Bald eagles make a stopover in Elgin
The bald eagles have landed in the Fox Valley, and they are flying high and fishing this week along the Fox River near downtown Elgin.
Exactly how many are there is uncertain, but there are at least five and as many as a dozen.
They may not be endangered anymore, but bald eagle sightings still create excitement.
Bob France of Roselle was watching the activity out by the river Wednesday. France is a retired Park Ridge police officer who now owns a dog-walking business. He said he first spotted the eagles near Elgin's Gail Borden Library last winter at about this time.
France is an eagle enthusiast who has traveled up and down the Mississippi River to watch them, often seeing hundreds at a time. But he says it's more special to see them in your own neighborhood.
"The best part is seeing people's faces when I'm out here and show them where the eagles are," he said. "People are always amazed that they're so close to their own backyard."
The eagles -- taken off the endangered species list in the summer of 2007 -- could be seen from the north parking lot of the library. Much of the activity was near a sewage treatment plant a few hundred yards north.
One e-mailer to the Kane County Audubon website on Wednesday claimed to have spotted three eagles and eight immature ones near the river. Ten eagles, according to the website, were spotted Monday in the same general location.
Recent sightings include Sunday near North Aurora, and last week near Quarry Beach and city hall in Batavia. They've been spotted up river, too, both in the West Dundee and Carpentersville area.
Bob Andrini, president of the Kane County Audubon Society, said eagles are increasing in numbers in the area and are drawn to open water in the winter. They congregate near dams and turbulent parts of the river to give them a place to fish.
He says big birds are a big draw to non-bird watchers.
"To take people bird watching you have to have binoculars or equipment," he said. "With the big birds like the eagles or the owls that nested in downtown Geneva or the migrating white pelicans in Batavia, everybody can enjoy them."
He says the big birds are great for families.
"Parents get excited to see them, and that gets the kids excited," he said. "It's important to get kids to realize that there is a whole world outside to be explored."
The average bald eagle is between 10 and 14 pounds, can grow up to 37 inches tall with a wingspan between 72 and 90 inches. Females are about 25 percent larger than males.
Officials at the library said they were buying binoculars to allow visitors to take advantage of the large viewing windows on the river-facing side of the building and see the birds from the warmth of the building.
Eagles: Library will offer binoculars to visitors