The American bald eagle adds to the beauty of Sauk Prairie in the wintertime. Drawn to open fishing waters below the Prairie du Sac dam, abundant sheltered valleys in the bluffs for nighttime roosting, tall riverbank trees for perching and plenty of space to feel secure, these magnificent creatures have graced the community with their presence for decades. Once nearly extinct in Wisconsin because of pesticide use, their numbers have steadily increased and they are no longer on the list of Endangered Species for our state. When waters to the north freeze, eagles migrate to Sauk Prairie. They number anywhere from 100 to 200 birds in peak years.
Eagles can be seen in Sauk Prairie from mid-December into March and are celebrated with a Bald Eagle Watching Day in January. Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Endangered Resources host this event, which features birds of prey shows, eagle viewing, bus tours, food and educational displays. Wollersheim winery offers a specialty wine in honor of the eagles. If you cannot make it for this special day, come watch the eagles soaring overhead throughout the winter or perched on Eagle Island in the middle of the river right downtown!
Identifying the Bald Eagle
It is difficult to mistake an adult bald eagle because of its distinctive white head and tail and its immense six- to eight-foot wingspan. Immature bald eagles aren’t as easy to distinguish because they don’t acquire the snow white head and tail feathers until they’re four to five years old. Immature bald eagles have varying amounts of white mottling all over, often with distinct white patches in their “under wing pits.” First year birds tend to be quite dark. The amount of white in their coloring increases each year until they become the gorgeous birds we’re familiar with.
Best Places to View Bald Eagles
Ferry Bluff Eagle Council Outlook: Across from the Mobil Station on Water Street in Prairie du Sac. Here you can get out of your car and use the spotting scopes to see eagles perched on Eagle Island or soaring overhead. An informational kiosk with eagle information is available.
Veteran’s Park: North on Water Street, past the business district in Prairie du Sac. A small sign marks the turn to the park. Stay in your car please! Birds may be seen across the river in the tall cottonwoods, flying or fishing.
Prairie du Sac Hydroelectric Dam: Continue on Water Street (Hwy 78) north of Prairie du Sac, about one mile, and turn right on Dam Heights Road. Follow signs to the dam. Please stay in your car to watch the eagles fishing.
Wollersheim Winery: Take the Hwy 60 Bridge east from Prairie du Sac to Hwy 188 and turn right (south). The winery is approximately one mile on the left. Stop inside the winery before viewing. Eagles frequent the bluff behind the winery.
West End of Water Street: Following Water Street south, go straight through the stop lights in Sauk City. The pull-off by the railroad bridge can have good views of eagles loafing in the large oak trees across the channel.
We ask that you stay out of the shaded areas on the map because:
• Much of it is private land with no trespassing allowed
• You won’t get better viewing there, but do run the risk of flushing the eagles, threatening their survival and ruining other people’s chances of seeing them
• The birds need about 100 yards between you and them to feel safe
• Bald eagles need lots of space—let’s give them a chance to thrive here!