Bald Eagles

Blog Category
Discover Nature Notes
Published Display Date
Dec 30, 2018

They’re big and bold with piercing talons and yellow eyes. January is prime time to see them along big rivers and reservoirs.

Bald eagles get their name from their white-feathered heads. Their regal looks made them a natural for our national symbol, but their scavenger nature gave Ben Franklin doubts. He thought they were a bird with bad moral character that didn't make their living honestly.

Bald Eagles swoop in after food that other animals have sourced, grabbing what’s been left or dropped, or outright stealing other’s prey. They’re opportunistic feeders - choosing live, fresh or dead animals - whatever is available. They mostly eat fish. Bald eagles are fierce predators that hunt from high-up perches and hover over water scooping up fish with their talons.

Pairs will often mate for life and have a swooping, tumbling aerial courtship. They build large nests in tree tops near water and add on every year. The average nest is around four to five feet in diameter and two to four feet deep. The largest on record was in St. Petersburg, Florida at 9 1/2 feet in diameter, 20 feet deep, and weighing nearly three tons. If you spot an active nest in Missouri, you can sign up to be an eagle monitor.

Catch a closer view of bald eagles at Eagle Days events around the state. Your family can enjoy viewing them through scopes and special programs and activities.

Eagle Days Events

  • KANSAS CITY: Jan. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Jan. 6 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Smithville Lake Paradise Pointe Golf Course Clubhouse north of Kansas City. Call 816-532-0174 for more information.
  • ST. LOUIS: Jan. 19 and 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270 off Riverview Drive in St. Louis. Call 314-301-1500 for more information.
  • SPRINGFIELD: Jan. 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 20 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the MDC Springfield Conservation Nature Center. Call 417-888-4237 for more information
  • JEFFERSON CITY: Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the MDC Runge Conservation Nature Center. Call 573-526-5544 for more information.
  • CLARKSVILLE: Jan. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lock and Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater in Clarksville. Call 660-785-2424 for more information.
  • PUXICO: Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Puxico. Call 573-222-3589 for more information.

Discover more bald eagle viewing opportunities.

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