Eagle watching season begins along Mississippi River

GODFREY, IL (KTVI)– This is a great time of year for Godfrey, Illinois resident Robert Halford.

“We come down here hoping we’d see the eagles and sometimes the pelicans with the big bills,” says Robert Halford.

Halford was hoping to catch a glimpse of some big birds along the Mississippi River.

We’ve entered into eagle watching season and one of the best locations to lock eyes with an eagle, the Melvin Price locks and dam.

“It’s a feather in our hat,” says Walter Crawford.  “You’ve got Clarksville, Winfield.  All those dams that are just really great and Alton. The water doesn’t freeze by the lower part of the dams so they come here, and it’s like a buffet.”

Recent cold temps along the upper Midwest mean this year we’re seeing some of the largest wintering eagle populations.

According to World Bird Sanctuary founder Walter Crawford, his group did a recent study and found more than 21-hundred eagles between St. Louis and Quincy.

“They’re gregarious,” adds Crawford.  “They feed in groups which makes it cool.  You know, you’ll see maybe 15 on an ice float.  And some of them will get on an ice float, they’ll go down the river and get to a certain point they’ll turn around and fly back.”

But if you’re on the search for a bird with a big wingspan, go early in the morning or late afternoon, especially up near Grafton.

“Couple of years an eagle had a nest across the highway over here and that really drew a crowd and the young started flying out of the nest,” says Halford.  “It was really comical.”

And when it comes to a great time with the great outdoors, well, you can’t beat the admission price.

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