From the Missouri Department of Conservation
-- Five events starting in December offer Missourians a chance to see bald eagles in the wild and indoors. Thousands of bald eagles come to Missouri each winter. The number and location depends on weather. Because they rely on fish and waterfowl for food, eagles migrate as far south each winter as necessary to find open water. Missouri’s big rivers and reservoirs become eagle magnets some years. In other years their numbers are more modest, but a few places in the Show-Me State provide reliable eagle-viewing opportunities every year.
The Missouri Department of Conservation began taking advantage of these eagle hot spots in 1978, inviting people to come and view eagles at public events. Over the years, Eagle Days has expanded to include indoor naturalist programs with live eagles.
This year’s events include:
• Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, near Mound City, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6. Call (816) 271-3100 for more information.
• Smithville Lake, Little Platte Park Course Complex, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 9 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 10. Call (816) 532-0174 for more information.
• Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 16 and 17. Call (314) 877-1309 for more information.
• Springfield Conservation Nature Center, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 23 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 24. Call (417) 888-4237 for more information.
• Clarksville, Lock & Dam 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 30 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 31. Call (660) 785-2420 for more information.
Information also is available at mdc.mo.gov/events/eagledays.
The Conservation Department provides binoculars and spotting scopes for eagle viewing. Warm clothing is a must, since damp, windy conditions often prevail around large bodies of water in the winter. Indoor programs offer a chance to warm up and learn more about eagles and other birds of prey.
These organized events make eagle viewing easy. However, if you prefer to go it alone, you can see eagles at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area south of Columbia, Lock and Dam 25 east of Winfield, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary east of West Alton, Bagnell Dam Access at Lake of the Ozarks, Mingo NWR northwest of Puxico, Table Rock Lake and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery southwest of Branson and Truman Reservoir near Warsaw.
Watch for eagles perched in large trees at the water’s edge. Early mornings are best for seeing eagles flying and fishing. --By Jim Low