Each year Bald Eagles from the northern United States and Canada migrate to the Upper Mississippi River. These Bald Eagles congregate near the locks and dams on the river where the water is not frozen so the eagles can fish. One of my favorite dams to photograph Bald Eagles in the winter is Lock and Dam 14 near Le Clair, Iowa.
Tips for photographing the Bald Eagles in the winter
- Dress for the cold weather. Dress in layers, invest in hand and feet warmers, and wear insulated boots. The parking lot is close to the boardwalk so you can quickly return to the car if you need to warm up.
- The parking lot can be icy in the winter be careful and make sure you have good traction.
- Bring spare batteries for your camera as the batteries will lose their charge faster in the cold.
- Most of the shots will be in flight photos of the eagles. Make sure you have you auto focus set for auto tracking (AI Server – Canon, Continuous Focus – Nikon)
- Watch your shutter speeds. It can be cloudy and gray in Iowa in the winter. Also when an eagle dives for a fish, the background will darken causing the shutter speeds to drop. You may need to raise your ISO to keep your shutter speed at 1/1000 of a second or faster.
- Be patient. It may be a slow day and then all of a sudden you will get a flurry of eagles in close proximity. One evening after a slow day, most of the photographers had left about 20 minutes before sunset. We had 7 really close Bald Eagle Flybys and dives for fish in the remaining 20 minutes prior to sunset.