Army Corps of Engineers rangers show us how they count eagles

Rock Island, Illinois (KWQC) - For anyone who's been out in those temperatures across the QCA, you've probably spotted more than one hundred eagles on the Mississippi River. But have you ever wondered who's counting them? Today a park ranger, Mike KcKean, with the Army Corps of Engineers at lock and dam 15 showed KWQC how the counting works.

With a pair of binoculars in his hands, McKean keeps his eyes focused on one eagle at a time. "We try our best to try not to double count on a day like this with all the activity, with the flying around that's a bit tricky, he said."

With the high count of eagles this year at Lock and Dam 15, usually 2 people are needed to track the high flyers. They often take two or three different counts and scanning each eagle, whether they're perched in a tree, on the icy river, or flying. A tough task for two people.

To make it accurate, they roam from one position to another, they take to the clipboard, recording every detail. "So we just want to make sure we're trying to do a thorough job of counting as best as we can at this site," McKean said.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, it's the most eagles they've seen since 2013 when 187 were recorded. But that's not the highest amount you can see on the Mississippi. In Burlington, Iowa at Lock and Dam 18, 500 eagles were recorded. Mckean says the QCA region isn't seeing nearly as many because Burlington is a bit more rural and open. For an animal that was once on the endangered species list, Mckean says it's good to see so many back in the area.

"It's kind of cool to see a comeback story in nature, being as they're our national symbol, how could we lose the bald eagle right," said McKean.

Although temperatures will increase through the week, park rangers say as long as the ice stays on the river, you should be able to take plenty of eagle pictures at lock and dam 15 over the next few days.