Quad City bald eagle count triples during cold snap

PLEASANT VALLEY, Iowa -- The number of bald eagles in the Quad City area has tripled over the past week due to the bitter cold snap.

Park rangers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers count the eagles every Wednesday morning in December, January and February at locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

On Wednesday, January 3, rangers counted nearly 50 eagles at Lock and Dam 14 -- 38 adults and 10 juveniles.

"It's at least tripled in this area, just between last week and today," said ranger Judy Borah. "They like the cold, and so far it's doing well for them. Last year, we had a lot of low numbers because there was so much open water that they didn't need to centralize at the lock and dams."

When the temperatures drop, eagles flock to the areas near lock and dams because the water never freezes, allowing them to fish.

"I've never seen so many. This is my first time in Iowa, so... everyone's been talking about it," said Tiffany Collins, who spent several hours photographing the eagles Wednesday morning.

Last year, about 1,500 bald eagles were counted by lock personnel, which was down slightly from the 1,700 spotted in 2015-2016.

One of the reasons for monitoring the number is to ensure last year's decrease was an anomaly and not the beginning of a decline in eagle populations.

Related: Local photographers hope new perches by Lock and Dam 14 attract more eagles