Have you seen any bald eagles flying around Lake County lately?
If you have, you're not alone.
The Lake County Forest Preserves shared a photo on their Facebook page Tuesday of a bald eagle that was spotted in a tree at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville. Commenters on that photo reported seeing bald eagles in other places, too, including at Route 173 and Kilbourne, and near Gregg's Landing in Vernon Hills.
Even more sightings were reported when the photo was shared on the Grayslake Patch Facebook page. One reader said she saw a bald eagle in Lake Zurich on Jan. 27. Another said she spotted one in Lake Villa last week, while another reader said she saw a bald eagle in Gurnee on Monday.
Mark Hurley, an environmental educator with the Lake County Forest Preserves, said it's not too uncommon to see bald eagles around Lake County.
"We do see some every winter," he said.
While there is an active bald eagle nest in the Chain O'Lakes area, Hurley said it's more likely that the eagles being spotted here in Lake County are northern birds from Canada, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Hurley said the bald eagles generally fly as far south as they need to as long as they can fish. If Lake County experiences a prolonged cold snap, the eagles will continue to fly further south. While most of the bald eagles flying south will use the Mississippi River as a guide, some follow the Lake Michigan shoreline or even the Des Plaines River.
"It's a visual for them," said Hurley. "It's open water for them."
When you have a forest preserve like Independence Grove with both open space and a big lake, that creates a promising place to see bald eagles, Hurley said.
"I agree, it's really cool," he said. "It's fun for people to see them. They're big and majestic."
Have you seen a bald eagle in McHenry County? If so, share in the comments section below.