Bald eagle on the Lower Wisconsin River
photo by Ted Nelson
Starved Rock State Park is hosting its annual Eagle Day weekend on January 23 and 24. There are multiple activities at both the Starved Rock Lodge and at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center at the Starved Rock Lock & Dam. There is even a $1.00 per person all day trolley that takes ornithologists (both amateur and expert) back and for between the two venues.
The events include a Raptor Awareness Program at the Lodge with a real bald eagle in attendance presented by the World Bird Sanctuary at 10am, noon, 2pm, and 4pm. No admission fee is required, however tickets need to be picked up at the Illinois Audubon booth in advance. There will also be a seminar on Asian carp and owls.
Take the trolley over to the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center and check out a live eagle program presented by the Illinois Raptor Education Center at noon, 2pm, or 4pm. Once again there will be no admission fee, but tickets need to be picked up at the Illinois Audubon booth. There will also be a Native American dancer on hand and a seminar on bird feeders. Pictures on the website also show a giant mascot bald eagle on hand, so the kids will love this one.
The eagles of course are the main attraction. They tend to congregate near open water during the winter, which makes the Illinois River near the Starved Rock Lock & Dam an ideal place. The overlooks above the dam inside the state park and at the Waterway Visitor Center both have high power scopes on hand.
This year with recent warm temperatures means that if the Illinois River is ice free along its entire length then the eagles could spread out instead of hanging out in large numbers at the dam. The Starved Rock hotline is reporting 10-15 eagles in the area, but is difficult to say where they will be at a given time.
It might be necessary to be more flexible and mobile in order to see them this year. Members of the Illinois Audubon Society will be on hand at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center to answer questions. Check with them for other good viewing spots in the area and be prepared to do some driving to find them if they are not at the dam. The Illinois birder’s forum reports that a dozen were seen last weekend, which is encouraging.
Starved Rock overlook where the action takes place
photo by Ted Nelson
To get to the park from Chicago take I-55 south out of Chicago toward St. Louis. Then exit on I-80 west 45 miles to Utica and turn off at exit #81 at Utica. Go south 3 miles on State Route 178 and follow signs to the park. Check out our nation’s symbol this weekend along with festivities at Starved Rock State Park.
The Louisville Kentucky State Parks Examiner, Patty Davis, wrote a great informative article about Eagle Days at Kentucky State Parks. If a little farther south check this article out for information about viewing eagles in Kentucky.
Subscribe to my articles with the button at the top of this page. Examiner does not share or sell your email address and there is no spam. Other e-follow options are listed below. Just click on the icons and they will take you there.
Traveling Ted on Facebook
Ted Nelson was recently named one of the top 101 Adventure Travel twitterers on twitter. http://abroadening.com/161 Click on the icon below to follow me there.