In the 1960's I had already assumed I would never see a bald eagle in the wild. I assumed that if I ever made it to my mid 50's, they would either be extinct or you might be able to go visit a few in a bird sanctuary somewhere.
Growing up in Chicago made those assumptions more realistic than not. The chances of seeing a bald eagle, or making it to my mid 50's, in the Chicago area… why would that happen?
And yet, 45 years later, living a two minute walk to the Fox River in Yorkville, 50 miles from downtown Chicago, bald eagle sightings have become almost commonplace, but still fascinating.
I see them year round while out fishing the river, but winter seems to concentrate them in the open water below the Yorkville dam. Last year my friend and avid bird watcher, Larry Granat, saw a dozen in one day. For the birders, he runs a Facebook page called The Kendall County Bird Page and it's worth a visit.
A couple of winters ago I was out on my front porch when an eagle came drifting up from the river. The crows were following him and you can tell he was annoyed. To take a break and to get away from the crows, he landed in the tree in my front yard, directly over my head. Of course, no camera.
This morning I made my usual trip down to the dam area to see what birds were around. Besides the ducks and geese, herons were stalking the island shore and seagulls were drifting on the wind. Within 15 minutes I had seen four bald eagles, three adults and a juvenile. I was expecting to see none this day.
I know birders in Chicago and the surrounding areas that travel out to the Rock River, the Mississippi River or down to Starved Rock for the off chance of seeing bald eagles. Why travel if you don't have to, they're barely 50 miles away.
While out here, stop in at River City Roasters to warm up and grab some coffee and something to eat. They're right on the river and overlooking the dam. From a window seat, you might not even have to stand around out in the cold to catch sight of an eagle.
Oh yeah, I forgot, the usual question… where the hell is Yorkville?
You know where Aurora is? Yorkville is about 12 miles southwest of there.
The eagles should be around all winter. If you've always wanted to see one, it beats driving 100 miles or more for the opportunity.