CHICAGO — Majestic bald eagles are hanging out on Chicago's South Side.
"It is always satisfying for me to see our national bird. It is extremely exciting however to view them in Chicago on a regular basis and a thrill to be able to photograph them in flight or just perched," said Dave Gruver, a resident of suburban Lansing and a member of the IL Birders Exchanging Thoughts group.
Gruver was one of several members of the group to spot the eagles, both adults and juveniles, on Chicago's South Side over the past several days. The exact location is not being revealed to protect the eagles.
The bald eagle was once common in northeastern Illinois but was no longer a breeding species within the region by the early 1900s. The bird was once an endangered species but was upgraded to threatened and, in 2007, was taken off both lists. The bald eagle is still protected under the provisions of the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prohibits anyone from harming or disturbing the birds.
Illinois has become a hotbed for the bald eagle's wintering population; in 2014, the state trailed only Alaska's numbers, according to the Tribune. In the last few years, nesting pairs have been spotted in Lake County and a few miles outside the city in Palos Township. Bald eagles nest in the winter in warmer climates like Louisiana, but get closer to states like Illinois in the spring.
A bald eagle also was photographed earlier this year in March near Rainbow Beach Dunes on the South Side along Lake Michigan. One was seen in fall 2015 after being electrocuted on a power line on the Southwest Side.
If you see a nest, don't get too close. As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes: "To lessen the potential for nest abandonment, please do not approach within 150 yards of the nest."
Check out photos from Dave Gruver of the bald eagles, both adults and a juvenile, below or in the slideshow above.
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