January 10, 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: MADELINE CARLSON
Each winter, an estimated 3,000 bald eagles migrate to Illinois rivers, making the state one of the best places in the entire country to view America’s national bird.
This year, Illinois Office of Tourism is partnering with Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau to showcase bald eagles in their natural habitat using Enjoy Illinois Facebook Live.
“The confluence of our three great rivers, the Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi, is a natural draw for wintering bald eagles,” said Brett Stawar, President and CEO of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau. “American Bald Eagles are a sight people never grow tired of seeing. Thousands of people come to our region each year to get a glimpse of the birds in the wild and enjoy our winter eagle activities.”
The hour-long Facebook live stream will be hosted from the scenic Audobon Center at Riverlands located in West Alton on Friday, Jan. 18 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Viewers will see eagles as they hunt, nest and fly overhead while learning interesting facts about the species from Illinois Department Natural Resources wildlife specialist, Scott Isringhausen.
In addition to the Facebook live stream on Enjoy Illinois’ Facebook page, Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau will host a social media takeover across Enjoy Illinois social media channels on Jan. 18 where followers can learn more about eagle watching throughout the region and upcoming events in southern Illinois.
Explore the events below for the best locations around Illinois to catch bald eagles in action this winter.
To download bald eagle photos and B-roll click here.
Bald Eagle Days - Rock Island
January 11 - 13 (varied hours below)
Considered to be one of the largest bald eagle events in the Midwest, Bald Eagle Days in Rock Island is an annual gathering that includes live eagle programs, live bird of prey demonstrations, Big Run Wolf Ranch, Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary and Jim Nesci’s cold blooded creatures. With over 100 display booths and a 20-foot climbing tower, residents and visitors can always expect a memorable eagle sighting. Hours: Friday 4 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Eagle Days at Old Chain of Rocks Bridge - Alton
January 19-20 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Eagle lovers of all ages are invited to watch as thousands of eagles fish, ride ice floes, soar overhead and perch in nearby trees. The event also features a bald eagle meet and greet at the Treehouse Wildlife Center that specializes in the rehabilitation of eagles in an effort to re-release them into the wild.
Bald Eagle Watch Weekend - Oglesby, Starved Rock
January 26 from 9 a.m-4 p.m.
Visitors are invited to take a short hike to the top of Starved Rock for live eagle viewing or join the park naturalist for a guided eagle viewing tour. Families can participate too with fun activities like the Birds of Prey shows at the Starved Rock Visitor Center, Starved Rock Lodge and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. Stay overnight at Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center, which offers rustic hotel rooms and log cabins in the woods.
Great River Eagle Days - Quincy
January 26-27 from 10 a.m-5:00 p.m.
The annual Great River Eagle Days event honors both Native American traditions and the return of the bald eagles with a variety of sacred ceremonies and entertainment features open to the public. The event also includes an expanded area for children’s educational and fun activities along with the children’s candy dance. Participants are encouraged to take advantage of eagle-watching on Saturday and Sunday at Quincy’s Lock & Dam 21 and a special $60 hotel room rate is available from the host hotel, Microtel Inn & Suites, for visitors.
Bald Eagle Tours at Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge – Marion
January 26-February 3 from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Home to six nesting pairs of resident bald eagles and their offspring, Crab Orchard offers guided tours to visit eagle nests and areas of the 44,000-acre refuge where eagles may be spotted. Reservations are required to see some of the most majestic birds in their natural environment. Not far from Crab Orchard is the HUB Recreation Center where guests can purchase an all-day pass to take advantage of the oversize pool, waterslide, and lazy river that’s always a fun indoor treat in the winter.
Pere Marquette State Park Bald Eagle Days – Grafton
January 28,29,31 from 8:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
February 1,2,4,5,7,8,14,15,22,25 from 8: 30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
March 4 from 8:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Informative programs led by a site interpreter are offered at Pere Marquette State Park’s Bald Eagle Days for attendees to learn to distinguish between immature and mature bald eagles, what eagles eat, why they spend winter months in the area and more. The events are free; however, a reservation is required. The Pere Marquette Lodge & Conference Center is a scenic stay for out-of-town visitors with a rustic timber 1930s Great Room and a 700-ton stone fireplace serving as the centerpiece for guests to warm up.
Fulton-Mason Eagle Day - Lewistown
February 2 from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
This annual event centered around the Dickson Mounds Museum features a variety of activities for eagle watchers of all ages to enjoy around Lewistown and Havana. A presentation from the World Bird Sanctuary, lakeside wildlife viewing, crafts and more await visitors. As always, make sure to stop by the museum's interpretive exhibits that cover 12,000 years of history in the Illinois River Valley.
Lake Shelbyville Eagle Day - Lake Shelbyville
February 2 from 10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the annual Lake Shelbyville Eagle Day not only includes children’s programs along with an eagle meet and greet where visitors can ask a handler firsthand their questions pertaining to bald eagles plus a special adult Birds of Prey Program. The event is free to the public, but a reservation is required.
For images and b-roll of bald eagles found in Illinois click here.
To view the special Facebook live stream of bald eagles in Illinois click here.
For more information about planning an Illinois getaway, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism manages industry efforts that result in sustainable and significant economic and quality-of-life benefits for Illinois residents.