With mild winter temperatures, it is all the more inviting to get out those trusty binoculars and peer out to catch a glimpse of America’s favorite feathered fowl. Catch the migration of thousands of eagles as they visit Starved Rock Country. The Annual Eagle Watch Weekend in January allows visitors to view the majestic Bald Eagle from atop Starved Rock! Find out more about Eagle watching, a popular event drawing visitors from all over.
Know Before You Go
These white capped birds were once on the verge of extinction and declared an endangered species in 1978. After 40 years of cooperation between various parties and the government, the American Bald Eagle, the nation’s symbol, was removed from the endangered species list. Former President Bush said:
“This great conservation achievement means more and more Americans across the nation will enjoy the thrill of seeing Bald Eagles soar.”
Share the achievement of joint efforts and the resurgence of the Bald Eagle with younger generations. Visitors to Starved Rock Country should know:
• The American Bald Eagle may perch along tree tops, soar high overhead and sun themselves at river islands or ice floes. Patience is key to successful viewing.
• How to stay warm. Visitors need to dress in layers. Gloves, hats and boots are recommended. Viewers should take hot beverages with them on an outing. Turn on the car’s heater for brief periods of time to ward off the chill.
• It is important not to disturb the visiting bald eagles as they need to conserve their energy.
• Eagles come to the area due to the fish available in the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. From late December to March, they make the most of the plentiful food source.
• Adult bald eagles do not keep company with juveniles when migrating. The first to migrate are the newly fledged eagles.
• The freezing over of Northern lakes and rivers marks the beginning of fall migration for adult bald eagles. They will then journey south for available fresh water sources. Open sources can include the coast and large rivers located close to dams.
• Eagles begin their arrival in Illinois in December. They can be found along the Illinois River actively searching for fish. Once waters freeze, they move to the dam. This open water source will then host a staggering and concentrated amount of eagles.
Starved Rock State Park in Illinois remains a respite for the Bald Eagle for a good portion of the year. As winter temps dip, more concentrated numbers of this popular bird can be easily found at the dam. This natural refuge and Heritage Harbor, with a prime location along the Illinois River, makes for ideal locations for birders to watch the Bald Eagle in its natural habitat. Ideal times for viewing activity are from 7am-9am or 4pm-5pm. Bring the family and experience the visual feast together.