Since more eagles live in Minnesota than any other state other than Alaska they are usually not too difficult to find.
During winter they are even easier to photograph because they congregate where ever they can find open water.
Through most of the winter there are only a few locations to find open water, most are near power plants or where rivers join together, and this is where I have often spent many weekends over the past 10 years.
Colville Park in Redwing, MN usually has the largest number of wintering birds. The power plant, that is located just up river, helps keep the water from freezing up. It is not unusual to see close to a hundred eagles in the trees around the open water.
Unfortunately this year I have not seen many eagles around Redwing. The most that I have seen in the area during a single trip is only about a half dozen. On a trip down to Redwing this weekend I was really surprised to see that most of the channel where the eagles usually fish and roost was frozen over. This is very unusual and I wonder if the power company is doing some sort of work on the plant so that they are not currently pumping warm water into the river.
Another typical location that I like to visit is near the small town of Reeds Landing. The water stays open there because of the turbulence created by the Chippewa River joining into the Mississippi. I have seen a few eagles in this area of the river on my various trips but it seems as though there are quite a few less then I have seen in past years.
My best eagle experience so far this winter came back on December 13th. After striking out for the most part at all of my typical eagle haunts I decided to continue south on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River.
In the town of Alma, WI I found around 25 eagles on the ice below the damn. Most were sitting on the edge of holes in the ice looking for fish. Occasionally one would take off and scoop up a fish from the open water and take it back and eat it on the ice. All of the pictures in this post were taken at Alma on December 13th.
Since December I have made numerous trips down the river in search of eagles. I have stopped in Redwing, Reeds Landing, Alma, and Whitewater State Park, on each trip I have found eagles but not in the numbers that I have seen in past years. This may be a result the very colder than normal temps that we had in November, December and January this winter, which may have driven the eagle population further south this year then in the past.