"It's become quite an annual phenomenon for years."
That is how local photographer and former bird watcher Dennis Fast describes what people have been witnessing west of Kleefeld in recent weeks. Dozens of bald eagles have been roosting in the bush near the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre.
Fast says he used to live at Kleefeld and in fall he would head west of the community at the end of each day to check out the latest eagle situation. He recalls seeing more than one hundred bald eagles at a time some Octobers and Novembers.
Fast notes even though not all of the eagles have the white head, they are for the most part bald eagles. Some people have mistaken these to be golden eagles, but Fast says they are simply immature bald eagles who don't yet have a white head. Their heads won't turn white until year three or four.
These eagles will show up in early October. During the day they will fly around the countryside looking for roadkill. Fast says in winter they feed on carrion as opposed to fish in summer. Depending on snowfall, the birds will stick around until late November or early December before most of them will head south towards the Mississippi River.
Fast says the number of bald eagles has been increasing dramatically, both near Kleefeld and across North America. He notes these birds were very endangered across much of the continent and twenty years ago you probably wouldn't have noticed any around Kleefeld. But Fast says he started spotting them about a dozen years ago and more and more of them show up each year. In fact, he says Manitoba is now supplying eagles to some of their former habitats in the United States.