Eagle Watching

eagle-8914Eagle Watching at Starved Rock has become one of the most popular events of each winter season. Every year, hundreds of eagles migrate to the area. Don’t miss this amazing time of year! 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.

The Annual Eagle Watch Weekend is always in January. Enjoy live Bald Eagle viewing from the top of Starved Rock. Live Birds of Prey shows and various family activities are held at the Starved Rock Visitor’s Center, Starved Rock Lodge and at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. The Lodge offers Eagle Trolley Tours in January and February of every year.  Click here for more details.

Generally, eagles follow seasonal food supplies; as lakes and streams freeze over, bald eagles must go south to find open, fresh water. Adult bald eagles do not migrate with juveniles. Newly fledged eagles migrate before their parents; no one knows how young birds know when and where to travel. Some fledgling eagles wander in a wide range their first few years. Some return to their origin, while others do not.

Adult bald eagles begin fall migration when the northern lakes and rivers freeze over. Depending on the location, they usually migrate to the coast or large rivers near dams, where the water remains open. Wind currents play a large roll in determining their flight pattern.

Here in Illinois, the eagles start to arrive in December. They are scattered up and down the Illinois River feeding. When the temperatures get cold enough to freeze the lake waters and then the river waters, the eagles will flock to the dam to feed on open water. This is when the numbers at Starved Rock are the largest. The colder – the better!

Remember that bald eagles should remain undisturbed and it is important
that they conserve energy during the winter months.