Best Spots for Eagle Watching in St. Louis

Thursday January 3, 2019

You don’t have to go far to see the country’s second largest population of bald eagles. For Eagle Watching in St. Louis just head north on the Great River Road (Hwy 100) to Alton and Grafton, Illinois. Each year, thousands of eagles migrate to the area. They come for the fish found in the cold waters of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The birds begin arriving in late December and stay until March, so there’s plenty of time to do a little eagle watching. Below are some of the best places to see the eagles in the St. Louis region.

Eagle Days at Chain of Rocks Bridge

Back this year is the popular Eagle Days at the historic Chain of Rocks Bridge. High above the Mississippi River, the bridge, once part of the storied Route 66, affords an excellent vantage point for viewing bald eagles as they “fish” in the open waters created by the rapids south of the bridge.

The FREE program happens from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20. Enjoy live Eagle Educational Programs every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The St. Louis Audubon Society will present a hands-on exhibit of local birds and a full-size replica of an eagle nest. Great photo opportunity!

Viewing scopes will be set up on the bridge for visitors to get close-up views of eagles as they cruise the area around the bridge and dive for fish. Trained volunteers will be on hand to help visitors use the scopes and get the most from their viewing.

Other activities include warming tents and childrenʼs art courtesy of The Green Center on Saturday.

As a bonus, Lewis and Clark re-enactors will give living history demonstrations at both bridge entrances. Re-enactors from the Corps of Discovery will be at the Missouri entrance to the bridge showing how Lewis and Clark and their crew lived, cooked, and traveled 200 years ago.

The Illinois bridge entrance will feature re-enactors from the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois.

The bridge parallels U. S. 270 along West Chain of Rocks Road between Riverview Dr. in St. Louis, MO and Illinois 3 in Madison County, IL.

Visitors are urged to bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Audubon Center at Riverlands

Another great place to view eagles is the Audubon Center at Riverlands where visitors can watch eagles from the comfort of the center through its massive two-story circular bay windows overlooking the river. Spotting scopes for eagle viewing are at the center which is off a back water area of the Mississippi River across the bay from Ellis Island where eagles like to roost in the winter on a strip of trees.

And the Center has two great FREE events to help you see eagles.

Raptor Saturdays is offered from January 12, 19, 26, and February 2 from 10am-2pm. See live raptors, owl, falcon or hawk up close presented by Treehouse Wildlife Center. View eagles, other raptors, Trumpeter Swans and other wiaterfowl from the warm and welcoming confines of the Audubon Center at Riverlands! Visitors can learn more about eagle-watching and use the high-powered spotting scopes to view eagles in their natural habitat from the center. Staff and volunteers will be on site to help visitors and answer questions.

Eagle Sundays is another exciting opportunity to see our national bird in its own environs. The program is offered January 6, 13, 20, 27 and February 3 from 10am-2pm. Visitors can see a live Bald Eagle up close presented by World Bird Sanctuary! See eagles, other raptors, Trumpeter Swans and other waterfowl in the wild at Riverlands from the warm, welcoming confines of the Audubon Center at Riverlands! Discover, learn and have fun! Again, high-powered scopes will be available for use and staff and volunteers will be on hand to assist and answer questions.

Audubon Center at Riverlands is at 301 Riverlands Way inside the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, MO. The center is just 30 minutes north of downtown St. Louis.

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Bald Eagle Day at Pere Marquette

Pere Marquette State Park is fortunate to play host to these seasonal visitors. Eagles may be spotted in the tree tops along the Illinois River in the months of December, January, February and March.

The program begins at 8:30 a.m. at Pere Marquette with a short video before the observational drive. Visitors will learn how to distinguish immature bald eagles from mature ones, what eagles eat, why they spend winters in St. Louis and much more.

The program is free, but reservations are required–cal 618-786-3323. Participants are advised to dress warmly and come with a full tank of gas.

The park is on Illinois Route 100 along the Great River Road.

The program is offered on the following dates: Jan. 5, 28, 29, 31; Feb. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14, 15, 22, 25 and March 3 and 4.

Although some eagles live in the St. Louis area year around, these are the months when you can see more of them.

Insider tip: Return to St. Louis when the World Bird Sanctuary celebrates World Eagle Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, Sunday March 31, 2019 for a day of eagle fun. Both admission and parking are FREE.

 

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