The Eagles Have Landed
Winter is here, bringing with it cooler temps and numerous migrating bald eagles. Find out what brings the symbolic birds to Missouri and where to spot them.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
Once winter’s chill arrives, much of the region’s wildlife goes dormant, waiting for warmer weather to return, with one notable exception: the hundreds of bald eagles that journey south to Missouri every winter. “We get the migrating eagles that come from Canada and mainly Alaska because [of] the weather conditions further up north and food availability,” says Janet Haslerig, a Missouri Department of Conservation resource scientist.
In addition to the state’s comparatively temperate climate, bald eagles are drawn to Missouri for its numerous lakes, many of which do not freeze over entirely, which ensures reliable access to food even in the depths of winter. Those qualities make 417-land an especially great spot for the brown-and-white raptors. “If the weather conditions are really bad in certain parts of the area, meaning the northern part of Missouri, they have the tendency to go further south in Missouri and congregate around the large lakes where water is open, like Truman or Stockton and those locations,” Haslerig says.
For the best chance of spotting the national bird, head lakeside around dawn and dusk, which is when the birds of prey come and go from their roost sites to hunt. Haslerig says those roost sites can be home to stunning numbers of eagles, sometimes as many as 50 or 100. “It’s a pretty amazing sight to see that many,” she says. Typically located in tall trees not far from water, the roost sites are very large and easily visible, especially in winter due to the lack of foliage.
By the time February rolls around, migrating bald eagles will have returned to their northern breeding areas, but don’t worry if you missed out: They’ll flock south again next winter.Edit ModuleShow Tags