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updated: 3/8/2014 10:16 AM

Annual Ill. eagle count spots record bird numbers

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- The Audubon Society says volunteers counted a record number of American bald eagles during an annual midwinter survey.

The society said Friday that 5,975 of the birds were counted between Jan. 1 and 15. Extreme cold in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin is believed to have led to a larger number of the birds to winter in Illinois.

Tom Clay is the society's executive director. He says the highest survey count was 4,292 in 2008. Last year just 2,324 bald eagles were counted.

More than 90 percent of the eagles counted this year were along the Mississippi River.

The society asks volunteers to spot and count American bald eagles to track population and habitat trends and to drum up public interest in eagle conservation.

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