Eagle Season is Fast Approaching in Southwest Illinois

(Alton, IL – Dec. 20, 2022) Eagles are returning to their winter homes in southwest Illinois and the region is preparing for the upcoming Eagle Season with a full schedule of events including a kick off festival on Saturday, Jan. 7.

To celebrate the return of this majestic bird, the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau along with FLOCK Food Truck Park, the Audubon Center at Riverlands and National Great Rivers Museum will host the annual Eagle Ice Festival, Saturday, Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Eagle Fest is a great way to kick off Eagle Season and gives people the chance to celebrate the return of American Bald Eagles to the region for winter,” said Cory Jobe, President/CEO of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau. “This is a very popular festival with the visiting public and is an opportunity for people to travel throughout the Alton and Grafton area and enjoy a wide variety of free activities including seeing a live bald eagle, watching ice carvers and so much more.”

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a free Eagle Meet & Greet event will be held at FLOCK Food Truck Park, 210 Ridge St., Alton, where Liberty, the American Bald Eagle from World Bird Sanctuary, will be on hand with his handler to welcome visitors. Learn more about bald eagles and take photos during this event. Ice Visions ice carvers will also be at FLOCK creating a live ice sculpture during the event. Free face painting for kids is also on tap. S’mores kits are available for purchase so festival goers can enjoy s’mores by the firepits. FLOCK will also host three different food trucks and will have winter boozy drinks available.

Also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be family-friendly activities at the Audubon Center at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, 301 Riverlands Way, West Alton and National Great Rivers Museum, #2 Locks & Dam Way, Alton and the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, 435 Confluence Tower Dr., Hartford.

The Audubon Center will have outdoor learning activities about eagles and nature along the birding sanctuary’s trails. There will also be guided bird hikes and exploration of the trails at Riverlands along with firepits, make and take crafts, and sessions on local raptors with TreeHouse Wildlife Center

The National Great Rivers Museum will celebrate Eagle Fest with children’s crafts, open tours of the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, and a ‘Nest Watch Station’ with spotting scopes to view a resident eagles’ nest.

TreeHouse Wildlife Center will be at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with several birds of prey found in the region. This free educational session will focus on what kinds of birds can be seen in the winter. Following the presentations, take a tour of the Tower and try to spot local raptors.

Eagle Watching Shuttle Tours will also kick off on Saturday, Jan. 7 in Alton and Grafton. The tours will be held every Saturday in January and February. In Alton, enjoy a 90 minute shuttle tour highlighting eagle watching spots. Two tours each Saturday will be held at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tours begin and end at the Alton Visitor Center, 200 Piasa St.. Tickets are $15 per person and must be purchased online in advance. A two and one half hour tour is available each Saturday in Grafton starting at 9 a.m. Tickets are $30 per person and must be purchased online in advance. Tours begin and end in the Grafton SkyTour parking lot at 3 W. Clinton St. Tickets for both Alton and Grafton tours are available for purchase here: https://www.riversandroutes.co...

Every day visitors can travel along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway to visit the “Eagle Watching Hot Spots” featured on the Great Rivers & Routes Eagle Watching Mobile Passport. Again this year, the Passport will guide visitors during their eagle watching adventure. The free passport is available for iPhone and Android, will lead visitors to the eagle watching hot spots. Any one who checks in to five of the 10 eagle hotspots can register to win a two-night stay in southwest Illinois during the summer.

Annually, the opportunities for eagle watching continue to grow in the Alton region. Visitors can head out to view the eagles on their own, or they can take part in some of the traditional eagle watching events in the region, including eagle meet & greets, eagle watching tours and live bird demonstrations. Events take place nearly every weekend and throughout the week in January. A full list of events can be found online at: www.riverandroutes.com

For visitors who would like to make eagle watching a winter getaway, there are numerous eagle packages and specials available at hotels and bed & breakfast inns in Alton, Grafton and Elsah. Find out more at: www.riversandroutes.com

(The Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau is a certified Destination Marketing Organization serving Madison, Jersey, Calhoun, Macoupin, Montgomery and Greene counties and East St. Louis in St. Clair County. The bureau is dedicated to educating visitors about the region by providing information regarding the area’s history, unique landmarks, recreational opportunities, leisure attractions, special events and scenic marvels.)