Eagle Watching

Here they come -- convoys of birds looking for winter homes throughout the Great Rivers & Routes region.

Hundreds of American Bald Eagles, thousands of Trumpeter Swans, ducks, geese and even the occasional Snowy Owl take up residence in the region from late December through early March.

Gather your gloves, parkas, hats, boots and binoculars and spend time outside along the rivers and bluffs of the region in what becomes a bird watchers paradise each winter. Look for eagles in the trees and bluffs lining the Mississippi and Illinois rivers or on the open river waters. Marvel at the beauty of Trumpeter Swans as they make the Audubon Center at Riverlands their winter home. Take a brisk winter hike on the historic Route 66 Chain of Rocks bridge to discover new ways to eagle watch. Take a self-guided eagle watching tour with the new Great Rivers & Routes Eagle Watchers Mobile Passport (available to download here starting in December!) and earn a free Eagle Watchers T-Shirt to commemorate your visit.

Facts & Information On American Bald Eagles

  • Eat fish, carrion, smaller birds and rodents
  • Soars through the sky rather than flap wings
  • There is a large amount of bald eagles in Alaska and Canada
  • Use their talons to fish or steal the kills from other animals
  • Live near coasts and lakes where there is a large amount of fish
  • Can live up to 28 years
  • Both female and male bald eagles have a blackish-brown body, white head, neck and tail, yellow feet, legs and beak and pale yellow eyes
  • Bald eagles weigh anywhere from 6.5 pounds to 14 pounds
  • Their body is usually 34 inches to 45 inches long. This is similar to a 6 foot man.

For more information on eagle watching, please call the Great Rivers & Routes Visitor Center at (800) 258-6645. Check out our new Eagle Watcher's guide here to learn more about our new eagle watching passport program where you can become an Official Great Rivers & Routes Eagle Watcher and earn a free T-shirt.

Don't forget to take a break and warm up at local restaurants. Be sure to spread out your bird watching fun with an overnight stay.

Eagle watching in Southwest Illinois

The crisp cool air and open waters of the Mississippi Flyway are a refuge for eagles, trumpeter swans and visitors alike in Alton, Illinois. Learn More