Eagle Valley is a 1450-acre preserve located in southwest Wisconsin that is privately owned and managed by Kohler Co. and Kohler Trust for Preservation. Its wooded bluffs and prairies border 2.75 miles of Mississippi River, home to several nesting pairs of Bald Eagles; 87 other bird species have been documented as confirmed or probable breeders on the property. The rich and diverse habitats are also home to dozens of mammals from White-tailed Deer to Masked Shrews, various amphibians and reptiles, including Timber Rattlesnakes and Snapping Turtles, and many other species. In addition to providing an important stopover for birds migrating along the Mississippi, Eagle Valley provides a winter home for hundreds of Bald Eagles, many of them from Canada. Deep, fast-flowing stretches of the river remain open even during the coldest winter weather, providing the eagles and many other animals with a rich source of food and water during that cold, lean season.
The Eagle Valley staff has been actively researching raptor ecology since 1989. Projects include raptor migration counts, studies of Bald Eagle winter night-roost dynamics, and eagle satellite tracking. Through these efforts, a great deal has been learned and shared about the eagles that migrate through and overwinter here and the ecosystem that supports them.
Over the past quarter century, there has been a dramatic return of eagles and nests to this stretch of the river. One such nest is just west of Eagle Valley on the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The eagles occupying this territory built a nest in 2007 and this area has been their focal point since. Through a solar-powered wireless system installed in 2013 that originally included two pan/tilt/zoom cameras, one above the nest (nest camera), the other on the pole (pole camera) 90 yards south that also held the solar panel and transmitter, the signal is relayed from the floodplain nest site to the blufftop, and from there to our office, making life in the eagle’s territory available to a wide audience.
The Eagle Valley camera is a joint venture between Kohler Trust for Preservation, Raptor Resource Project, Kohler Co., and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Faith Technologies was instrumental in much of the initial system installation. Personnel from all partnering organizations participated in planning and execution of the nest camera installation.
On a calm August 2016 day, the limb with attached nest camera broke off and was suspended 30 feet off the forest floor, but the nest remained. On May 17, 2017 a flooded Mississippi River and a 62 mph wind gust combined to push down the beaver-girdled and now completely dead nest tree and suspended limb with camera still attached. (The camera was intact and recovered.) The adult eagle pair had not raised young in the nest since 2014, but the area remains a focal point of their activity.
The pole camera still functions well and will continue to pan the pool area for eagles, Great Blue Herons, and other birds and mammals. Per an agreement with USFWS the camera will be focused on a pool just to the west from September through December so the public can view waterfowl coming and going. The rest of the year the camera will view the goings-on of all wildlife that live in or visit this area.
We hope you enjoy it!