A Dam Shame at Conowingo


I landed early at Conowingo Dam this morning. With several Feathered Friends in tow, we hoped to capture some exciting bald eagle action along the water.

By 7:30am, the parking lot was nearly full and the wildlife paparazzi were lined up along the fence line with their expensive camera equipment waiting for action.

Just two years ago around this time, the bald eagle population was much larger as seen in this just one image taken November 30, 2012. In this scene, 32 eagles were seen with over 80 being present at the dam.

Alas, today at the dam, a paltry 20 or so eagles were present. Yes, we are spoiled. After all, who gets to see a bald eagle at all. Let alone more than one? Not only was the bald eagle population paltry, but so were the Great Blue Herons.

The only ones represented in big numbers were black vultures and gulls. So what’s the change in just a short two years? Is it perhaps the growth of people at the dam in hopes of capturing that gallery shot of a bald eagle? Or is it environmental changes at the dam.


Exelon who owns and operates Conowingo Dam have been required to hold operations due to environmental impact studies of sediment that passes through the dam and enters into the upper Chesapeake Bay. Of course, this sediment is due to farming all along the Susquehanna river above the dam. The answer to what will happen at Conowingo Dam will be determined by the beginning of 2015. Those of us who love and care for these bald eagles are waiting with bated breath to find out what will happen.

In the meantime, the bald eagles and other wildlife are suffering the consequences. The shad aren’t as easily fished as they are when the dam is in full operation and the eagles most likely have had to find other hunting grounds.

It doesn’t say that action can’t be found at the dam. It just takes a lot more patience and waiting in cold temperatures. Action does happen, but it tends to be far and in between.

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Visiting the dam for the first time is still very exciting, and when arriving and hearing the Bald Eagles giggle always makes me happy. I will continue to visit the dam whenever I can in the meantime and hope for the best for these majestic creatures.

17 replies »

  1. The shots are absolutely beautiful as always! I find it really sad though, nature has learned to work with man but rarely the other way around, such as the dam 😦

  2. Beautiful images, but very sad story. This is being repeated all over the world with all kinds of wonderful creatures. I truly dream of a day when wildlife is no longer endangered by the actions of foolish men. Very sad indeed. 😦

    • When you think more about it Fatima, humans are truly a parasitic species. We try to keep things, but in the meantime we take all of our earth’s resources and wildlife. And we think we’re smarter. Thanks my dear for your thoughtful comment.

  3. Wonderful photography. Always enjoy eagles at their best fishing with full wing to create the dramatic dive!
    Emily thanks for your vigilant comments protecting the National Bird. They are so precious!..

    • My dear Graeme, what a true honor to see you here and you are so very kind with your words. I truly hope the best for these beautiful eagles at the dam. It is a special place that should be treasured for years to come.

      Hope all is well with you and at the zoo. Perhaps our paths will cross again soon.

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