South Dakota Bald Eagle Awareness Days         Bald Eagle Awareness Days
Welcome to the Bald Eagle Awareness Days Website!

This annual event is a joint effort by conservation agencies and organizations to increase public involvement and awareness concerning bald eagles and other raptors.

Bald eagles are found only in North America. The bald eagle is the symbol of our nation, chosen because of its majestic and graceful appearance and its aura of power and wildness. When we realized that the bald eagle was rapidly disappearing because of human activities, a nationwide outpouring of support began to save the species. Such support was instrumental in the passage of the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940. Protection and recovery of rare species were strengthened with the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The bald eagle is not only our national symbol, but also a symbol of our ability to save and conserve species.

Native American name for Bald Eagle is anúnkasan.

Check back later this fall for information about the 2016 event.

Click to enlarge imageLife History: Bald eagles usually mate for life. Nests are typically built in tall trees near water. Nests may be enormous, since they are often used for many years. The female lays one to four eggs, with two being the most common clutch size. Eggs hatch after a 35-day incubation. The smallest chick may die if food is scarce. Both parents care for the chicks, which stay in the nest for 10 to 11 weeks. Bald eagles do not attain adult plumage (white head and tail, dark body) until four or five years old.

Food: In most areas, fish are the bald eagle's primary food, but waterfowl and rabbits are also important. Carrion is an important food source in the winter. Bald eagles that winter along the Missouri River in South Dakota rely heavily on dead, sick, or crippled waterfowl and on fish killed as they pass through the dams.

Habitat: Bald eagles usually inhabit forested areas near rivers, lakes, and seashores. Two hundred to three hundred bald eagles winter in South Dakota. Most of them concentrate near downstream areas of Missouri River dams, where they roost in remnant cottonwood forests. Bald eagles also winter in the Black Hills. Migrating bald eagles might be seen anywhere in the state.

Winter Roost Sites: A winter roost site can be a stand of large trees near a river or a valley with large trees that opens out toward a river. Both roost types offer protection from cold winds and from human disturbance. Many roost sites in South Dakota and throughout the nation are threatened by housing and marina developments.

South Dakota's Breeding Population: Breeding bald eagles have returned to South Dakota on their own as the continent's population has expanded. A pair unsuccessfully attempted to nest at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in both 1992 and 1993. The first successful nest in more than a century was located at Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge in 1993. More than fifty active nests were found in South Dakota in 2010.


 Bald Eagle Awareness Days

 Watching Eagles


 Educational Activities

Download an eagle brochure (PDF file) by clicking here. Brochures can be obtained from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks at 523 East Capitol Avenue in Pierre, South Dakota 57501.  If you have questions or comments, email or call the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks at (605) 773-4229.