Kansas City, Mo. – Winter took a break but the bald eagles did not, which rewarded visitors Jan. 5-6 at the 24th annual Eagle Days at Smithville Lake. Bright sunshine and unseasonably balmy temperatures boosted attendance to 2,500 people during the two-day event, said Derek Dorsey, natural resource manager at the lake for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Eagle Days at Smithville Lake is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Clay County Parks, and other conservation partners.
“The live eagle show was jam packed for all seven shows with the good weather,” Dorsey said.
Live raptors and other nature exhibits were on display inside the clubhouse at the Paradise Pointe Golf Course Clubhouse. Visitors got a closeup look at an eagle, owls, a turkey vulture, and other raptors. Those birds have been rehabilitated from injuries but cannot be released back into the wild.
But wild eagles in the outdoors were also part of the show. Spotting scopes were set up at Smith’s Fork Park where the Little Platte River emerges from the spillway at the Smithville Lake dam. Eagles like to linger near the spillway and catch fish that have come through the dam.
Dorsey said about five eagles were present when the viewing began on Jan. 5. One mature bald eagle and one immature eagle were being watched by visitors through the spotting scopes by mid-day. But on Jan. 6, Dorsey counted 26 eagles near the spillway when the viewing began, and about 16 eagles stayed in the area as the day progressed.
“They put on some great displays of catching fish, fighting and talking back and forth,” he said.
Bald eagles migrate through Missouri during winter, following food sources such as waterfowl and fish. For information about places to see eagles during winter and other free MDC eagle day events throughout the state, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZG7.