ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Each year, bald eagles make the flight from the frozen waters up north to our area in untold numbers. Bald eagles are making the St. Louis area home for the winter. Dan Zarlenga talks with John Fuller about what makes Missouri so attractive to these raptors and how you can see them first hand at a special event this weekend
Q. Why do we see so many bald eagles this time of year?
- Missouri does have its own resident bald eagles
- But the population swells December through February each year as more migrate in from the north
- Fish are the eagles preferred source of food . . . they are excellent fishermen
- As waters freeze in the north, many eagles come down here where there’s less ice to make fishing easier
- The two largest rivers in North America meet right here at the Confluence, which is a great place to find open water for fishing
Q. You have a life-size bald eagle here….tell us a little about them.
- This is a male, the ones with the white heads . . . this takes about 3-5 years to develop
- Females and immature males have more mottled coloring without the white heads
- The name “bald eagle” actually comes from an Old English word, “balde”, meaning white
- Vision is 6 times sharper than a human’s
- They have 6-8 foot wingspans and weigh 8-15 pounds
- Live 15-25 years in the wild, 50 in captivity
- Mate for life
- Known to practice “in air piracy” by taking food from other eagles
Q. What’s the special event this weekend?
- Eagle Days at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
- 9am-3pm this Saturday and Sunday
- One of the area’s premier eagle events, Partnership between the Missouri Dept. of Conservation and Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources
- Free family event
- View eagles in the wild from spotting scopes on the bridge staffed by trained volunteers
- Continual live eagle programs by the World Bird Sanctuary
- Warming tents with educational displays and kids crafts
- Lewis and Clark living history camp with historical displays and demonstrations
Q. Where is the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge and what makes it a great place for eagle watching?
- Off Riverview Drive in North St. Louis County, just south of the I-270/Riverview Drive exit
- The “Chain of Rocks” structure just downstream breaks up the water, keeps it flowing and brings fish to the surface for easy access for the eagles
- The bridge provides a perfect elevated vantage point
Q. Any final considerations?
- Be sure and dress for winter weather!
- We ask you leave pets at home for their own safety
- Bring binoculars and cameras