Now through February, Missouri is a prime location for winter eagle watching.
Each year, the Missouri Department of Conservation gives residents and visitors a chance to learn about bald eagles through several Eagle Days events around the state as well as opportunities to enjoy watching eagles on their own.
Because of Missouri’s big rivers, many lakes, and abundant wetlands, the Show-Me state is one of the leading lower 48 states for bald-eagle viewing. Each fall, thousands of these great birds migrate south from their nesting range in Canada and the Great Lakes states to hunt in Missouri. Eagles take up residence wherever they find open water and plentiful food. More than 2,000 bald eagles are typically reported in Missouri during winter.
MDC Eagle Days events include live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos and guides with spotting scopes. Attendees can watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water’s edge. Those who get up early to watch in the morning are more likely to see eagles flying and fishing. Eagle watchers should be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.
Upcoming Eagle Days events include the following:
— St. Louis: From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 18 and 19 at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270 off Riverview Drive. Call 314.877.6014 for more information.
— Springfield: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 18 and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at the MDC Springfield Nature Center, 4601 S. Nature Center Way. Call 417.888.4237, ext. 1708, for details.
— Clarksville: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 26 at Lock and Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater, 702 S. 2nd Street Call 660.785.2424, ext. 6506, or 660.785.2420 for more information.
— Stella: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 25 at Stella Veterans Memorial Park, 774 Ozark Street. Call 417.629.3423 for more information.
— Jefferson City: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 1 at the MDC Runge Nature Center, 330 Commerce Drive. Call 573.526.5544, ext. 3407, for details.
Where to watch eagles
Can’t make an Eagle Days event? Other hot spots for winter eagle viewing in Missouri include:
— Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Route K southwest of Columbia;
— Lake of the Ozarks at Bagnell Dam Access east of Bagnell;
— Lock & Dam 20 in Canton;
— Lock & Dam 24 at Clarksville;
— Lock & Dam 25 east of Winfield;
— Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge south of Mound City;
— Mingo National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Puxico;
— Moses Eagle Park in Stella;
— Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270 off of Riverview Drive in St. Louis;
— Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area east of West Alton;
— Schell-Osage Conservation Area north of El Dorado Springs;
— Smithville Lake north of Kansas City;
— Stockton Lake near Stockton;
— Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Sumner;
— Table Rock Lake and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery southwest of Branson, and
— Truman Reservoir west of Warsaw.
For more information on bald eagles, visit the MDC online Field Guide at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/bald-eagle. For more information about Eagle Days events hosted by MDC, visit nature.mdc.mo.gov/eagle-days-5.