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Save Our Eagles

Illinois Has A Growing Eagle Population, With At Least 3,100 Bald Eagles Who Winter Here Each Year In At Least 27 Illinois Counties.

About Save Our Eagles

Citizens can take advantage of the small window of opportunity provided during the winter months in which the largest population of wintering bald eagles in the continental United States comes home to roost in Illinois.

Any of the more than two million wildlife watchers from Illinois and beyond are thrilled to see these magnificent birds in their natural environment. The spectacular displays put on by Illinois' wintering bald eagles provide millions of dollars of revenue to Illinois communities.

Did you know that the fourth Saturday in January each year is Illinois Eagle Day? Eagle Day celebrates the American Bald Eagle, the official national emblem of the United States and the living symbol of our nation's freedom, spirit and strength.

Please browse this site for more information about eagles in Illinois.


Eagle Watching

Specially Planned Programs Allow Visitors to Experience Bald Eagles and Witness the Majesty of Our National Bird

Every winter, Illinois presents visitors with the opportunity to see more than 3,100 bald eagles in their natural habitat - more wintering American bald eagles, in fact, than in any other state outside Alaska. The first eagles of the season are spotted in Illinois in December and remain in residence until they migrate back north in March, with January and February the optimal time for visitors to see eagles.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service considers the magnificent American bald eagle as protected.

To accommodate visitors who want to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the bald eagles' majesty and glory, towns and parks across much of the state will host specially planned eagle observation programs and exhibits throughout the prime-viewing season. For anyone interested in American history, bird-watching and the environment, bald eagle season in Illinois is a not-to-be-missed opportunity.

Plum Island Campaign

A 55-acre island located in the middle of the Illinois River just 85 miles from Chicago's Loop and downstream from Ottawa, Plum Island is an uninhabited, pristine site that can be viewed from atop Starved Rock.

1100 A.D. - Earliest known evidence of human settlement in Plum Island region.

1500-1700 - The Kaskaskia - members of the Illiniwek Confederacy - reside in a village on the north bank across from Plum Island, which is used for farming and as a burial ground.

1683 - early 1700's - French build and occupy Fort St. Louis at Starved Rock.

1760's - Ottawa Chief Pontiac murdered by Illiniwek at a tribal council. To avenge his death - according to legend - Ottawa and Pottawatomi warriors surround a band of Illiniwek who starve to death atop Starved Rock.

June-September, 1930 - University of Illinois archeologists and students under A.R. Kelly conduct first-known excavation of a limited number of selected sites on Plum Island. They discover at least eight different ancient burial sites, as well as unburied skeletal remains indicating the possible massacre of inhabitants of an Illiniwek settlement. They also find more than 7,300 ceramic, bone and ground stone objects, and corn storage systems.

November 15, 1938 - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wins permanent easement rights on Plum Island.

September 21, 2000 - "Starved Rock Island LLC" based in Orland Park, Illinois, purchases 45 of Plum Island's 52 acres.

April, 2000 - Friends of Plum Island submit a petition with more than 8,000 signatures to then-Gov. George Ryan.

January, 2001 - At least 83 eagles are spotted on Plum Island during Eagle Watch Week.

January, 2001 - Developer Don Barclay announces plans for an upscale 250-room hotel on Plum Island, complete with a 60-slip marina and five-star restaurant.

March 26, 2001 - Developers informed by Illinois Department of Natural Resources that it opposes construction of a bridge from Starved Rock State Park to Plum Island because a bridge structure "...takes the heart out of one of the major day use areas of the park."

April 25, 2001 - Friends of Plum Island and others attend a town hall meeting to urge Cong. Jerry Weller and other public officials to designate Plum Island as an eagle habitat.

September 24, 2001 - Sen. Pat Welch voices his opposition to the developers' plan based on the disruption of the natural habitat and potential obstruction of barge traffic.

February 28, 2002 - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejects developers' plans to find alternate sites for dredging material placement and notes "...most of the island is subject to inundation by flows in the Illinois River."

March 24, 2002 - Prayer vigil for Plum Island organized by SOARRING ("Save Our Ancestors' Remains & Resources Indigenous Network Group") attracts hundreds of Native American activists and eagle-lovers.

January 25-26, 2003 - Thousands of tourists visit the area for Bald Eagle Days in Utica and Bald Eagle Watch Weekend in Ottawa. From January through March, LaSalle County businesses gross at least $1.8 million from eagle-watching.

Spring, 2003 - Developers continue to advertise sale of "prestigious lots" on Plum Island with lots ranges from $125,000 to $210,000, and "luxury log cabins" featuring 3 bedrooms and fireplaces, ranging from $88,335 to $110,540. Full water and sewer access is promised. And while promoting "...the tranquility of nature", the developers also tout nearby jet-ski rentals.

June 18, 2003 - U. S. Army Corps of Engineers reiterates its easement rights to developers.

June 24, 2003 - A spokesman for the developer claims, "Less than 10 percent of the island will have coverage." However, Starved Rock Island LLC's own marketing materials show at least half of the island will be developed, not to mention infrastructure such as sidewalks and sewage treatment.

June 25, 2003 - Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn - Chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council - urges developers to halt promotions of real estate on Plum Island due to several concerns, including damage to eagle and fish habitats, disrespect of ancient burial grounds, potential for flooding, lack of access from either shore, interference with barge traffic and public safety.

June 26, 2003 - Illinois Department of Natural Resources reminds developers that they have not yet received proper permits to dredge a marina, destroy eagle roosts, disturb burial sites or enjoy access to State-owned property for "...ingress or egress or for utility right-ofways."

June 27, 2003 - Developers tell Associated Press, "(Our) eagle study shows they're only there for three weeks a year." He later corrects himself, saying, "The eagles are out there in December, January and February...the disruption is truly minimal." According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, however, the eagles begin arriving every October and stay through mid-March.

June 28, 2003 - Developers host a two-day open house for prospective buyers of "spectacular" lots at Starved Rock Marina Estates, and accept down payments from several buyers, despite having no assurances that any permits will be issued for construction.

July 6, 2003 - Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn launches "online petition drive" to protect Illinois eagle habitats, especially those on Plum Island.

March 28, 2004 - Victory rally to celebrate the saving of Plum Island.

Banner Marsh

"People united cannot be defeated" - Governor Pat Quinn In July 2005,

Governor Quinn (then serving as Lt Governor) launched an on-line petition drive on this website to save the natural areas around Banner, Illinois from a proposed strip mine development.

The Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area and Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area - 25 miles southwest of Peoria, Illinois - are vital natural areas that serve as habitats for the hundreds of American Bald Eagles that use the area each winter, American White Pelicans who rest there during their migration, Great Blue Herons, ospreys and other wildlife.

Governor Quinn joined with the Banner residents and supporters in celebrating the victory to save the Banner Conservation area from a proposed strip mine. Working together, citizens defeated the mining permit required for the proposal.

The mining plan would have surface mined a 643-acre tract located between the Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area and the Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area, a site less than a mile from the Illinois River. The people of Banner were concerned that mining operations would drain local wells, pollute water with heavy metals, and rupture the Banner sewage treatment plant infrastructure.

The Banner Marsh/Rice Lake natural areas offer a range of nature-based tourism opportunities, including bird-watching, hiking, biking, fishing, boating and camping.

This area is used each winter by hundreds of American Bald Eagles and is a major rest stop on the migratory flyway of the American White Pelican. In addition, the site is habitat to great blue herons, ospreys and other magnificent birds and nearby US 24 has recently been declared a national scenic byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation