Eagle watching season takes flight with events through February

An eagle walks along chunks ice being carried along by the current of the Mississippi River north of Alton, Illinois, on Jan. 24, 2022. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

ST. LOUIS -- It's time for the eagles, like any migrating birds, to follow the Mississippi Flyway south and grab a few snacks along the way. It's also time for crowds of humans to grab their binoculars and watch.

The Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau based in Alton, Illinois, as well as local nature groups and centers, hosts the eagles and the people.

The tourism bureau also encourages self-guided eagle watching using a downloadable Eagle Watching Passport at explore.riversandroutes.com, which guides spectators to specific destinations.

Pere Marquette State Park

Visitors can make reservations for a bald eagle tour that starts at Pere Marquette State Park. The tours started in late December and will continue on select days through early March. The program begins at 8:30 a.m. with a presentation at the visitor center and continues with an observational drive to view bald eagles. Visitors are advised to dress warmly, bring binoculars and have a full tank of gas.

Audubon Center at Riverlands

The Audubon Center at Riverlands is one of the locations for as Raptor Saturdays and Eagle Sundays through January and mid-February. Eagle Days, previously held at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, will move to Riverlands for this year's festival on Feb. 11. This is to accommodate improvements on the Missouri side of the bridge.

When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 11 (Eagle Days).

Where: Audubon Center at Riverlands, 301 Riverlands Way, West Alton.

Cost: free; registration required for Eagle Days.

More info: riverlands.audubon.org; greatriversgreenway.org/eagledays.

National Great Rivers Museum

The National Great Rivers Museum is also a part of the Alton Eagle Ice Festival and will host watching tours and a live eagle from the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park. The event is free, and guided tours by shuttle are $15 per person. The museum will also host an Ice Jam at the Dam on Feb. 18, with presentations and live music.

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 18 (Ice Jam at the Dam).

Where: 2 Lock and Dam Way, East Alton.

Cost: free; $15 for shuttle tours.

More info: mtrf.org.

Missouri Department of Conservation Eagle Days

The Missouri Department of Conservation presents all kinds of eagle-watching events. The one closest to St. Louis still upcoming is Eagle Days on Feb. 11 at the Audubon Center at Riverlands.

Eagle meet and greets

The Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau in Alton will partner with the World Bird Sanctuary to host several Eagle Meet and Greet events. Visitors can meet a live American bald eagle Jan. 21 at the Alton Visitor Center, and Jan. 14 and Jan. 28 at the Grafton Visitor Center. The meet-and-greets are 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

  photo  An eagles snags a fish in his talons as it swoops low over the Mississippi River in Clarksville, Missouri, on Jan. 30, 2022. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)