Bald eagles have launched their annual return in search of open, warmer water and fish. Dams create turbulence below the surface of the river, which in turn, keeps pockets of water from freezing. Additionally, experts say wooded areas that overlook the water provide excellent roosting habitats for the migrating wildlife. 

Weather permitting, bald eagles could remain in the area through February. As warm weather arrives, most eagles will begin their journey back to northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada for the nesting season, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Here are some tips for watching them while they're here:  

1. Patience is key. You are more likely to see eagles if you have the time to spend.

2. Arrive early. Bald eagles are most active from sunrise to 11 a.m. when they feed along open water. They will return to roosting areas in the afternoon. 

3. Stay still and quiet.

4. Check the weather. Eagles prefer clear, cold mornings.

5. Dress accordingly. Wear layers so you can shed your outer clothing as the day heats up. Bring a hat or earmuffs for your head and gloves or mittens for your hands. Comfortable boots also are recommended.

6. Find an area where eagles are accustomed to human activity. Along roadways, eagles are usually accustomed to automobiles.

7. In your vehicle, maintain a distance of 100 yards; On foot, keep a distance of 300 yards.

8. Keep your pet on a leash in viewing areas.

9. Bring binoculars and telephoto lenses for best viewing.

10. For the best shots, head to the riverfront walkway at Lock and Dam 14 near LeClaire, a spot some wildlife enthusiasts have coined a "national treasure." 


Jack Cullen covers health and the outdoors for the Quad-City Times.