It's no goldfinch, but the bald eagle is a pretty majestic bird. And though it represents our nation and not our state, the species is on the rise in Iowa.

The Iowa DNR is currently in the midst of a survey of the bird's population, and as wildlife biologist Stephanie Shepherd told Radio Iowa, the bald eagle numbers are looking good in Johnson County, specifically in the middle of the University of Iowa campus:

This is the Iowa River that goes through Iowa City, so around the Iowa City area both north and to the south. Our staff counted over 700 eagles on this stretch of river and in one mile, counted over 400.

Considering the population of bald eagles across the state was significantly lower just thirty years ago, the increase in numbers is astounding.

In Iowa, in the late ’90s, we were talking about a hundred nests across the state. Now, it’s easily up to 500 and that’s probably a conservative estimate.

Shepherd added.

Radio Iowa continued, saying that 2022 is set to be a stellar year for eagles in Iowa, but the current numbers will likely stay consistent, according to Shepherd.

Populations tend to grow to a certain level and then when they’ve filled in all of the appropriate habitat, they will level off a little bit. That’s one of the things that this winter survey gives us. We are starting to see a little bit of a leveling off of the population, which is not a bad thing.

More than 1,500 eagles were reported on the lower stretch of the Des Moines River on three routes of the survey the DNR conducted.

According to the Iowa DNR, there were zero bald eagle pairings in Iowa in 1905. The site continues: "The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act was passed in 1940 in an attempt to reverse the eagle’s decline. However, it became clear a more comprehensive policy was needed if we wanted to save bald eagles, and other species, from extinction. In 1978, Congress protected the Bald Eagle under the Endangered Species Act."

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