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Eagle Watching in Winter: How to Safety Enjoy Wildlife

From late December to March, thousands of eagles make their way to Illinois to feast on fish from the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Winter is the perfect time to witness this wildlife spectacle. But with winter comes poor road conditions and inclement weather, making the drive out to some of the remote areas where you can see eagles hazardous. Also, the bright white flash of a bald eagle’s head is enough to distract you from safe driving. Consequently, it’s more important than ever to stay alert and safe on the road.

Safe and Fun Wildlife Watching

Eagle watching in Illinois is an event everyone can enjoy. But to do so safely, keep these things in mind:

You aren’t the only car on the road. Eagles gather and feed along rivers and streams until they freeze over. Roads that provide access to these areas might not have designated pull out areas or shoulders. Don’t be tempted to stop on the side of the road unless there is a place you can safely park. If you are unable to pull off the road fully, keep driving.

If you can safely and completely pull off the road, respect the eagles. Wildlife experts recommend you don’t come within a quarter mile from eagles and try to watch them from inside your vehicle (another reason to find a safe place to pull off.) Use binoculars instead of trying to get closer. Avoid making loud noises. Even just slamming your car door can alarm an eagle. Eagles need to conserve their energy, and disturbing them can hinder their ability to do so.

Practice common sense. Be careful when driving at dusk and dawn when eagles are most active. Other wildlife, such as deer and small mammals, may also be active during these times. When coupled with low visibility, your risk for an accident goes up. If the sun starts to set while you’re eagle watching, consider packing up and heading home. Use high beam headlights if you can, and stay vigilant when scanning the road.

The winter eagle migration is a must see. Be cautious when driving at dawn and dusk, and always pull your car entirely off the road. Leave the eagles undisturbed and enjoy one of Illinois’ most amazing wildlife spectacles. If you are involved in an accident while out on the roads this winter, consult with an experienced Arlington Heights auto accident attorney. An attorney can help you file your claim and get you fair compensation for your losses.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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