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As bald eagles return to the bi-state, so do Bald Eagle Days programs

You don't have to travel all the way to Canada to see them. Join the Illinois DNR and Pere Marquette State Park for guided tours.

ST. LOUIS — Bald eagles are back in the bi-state!

America's national bird soars on a six to seven-and-a-half foot wing-span, making for a magnificent sight, and you don't have to travel all the way to Canada to see these fabulous creatures.

Eagles can be spotted in the trees along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers in the months of December, January, February and March.

When the birds return, so do Bald Eagle Days programs held at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois. Bring your binoculars, and get ready for an informative program on the bald eagle.

"You know at one point in time folks might say it was really rare to see a bald eagle, but know here in the wintertime, we expect to see them every day. Somedays we can see over 20 in a couple of trees," said Emily Conner, education manager at Audubon Center at Riverlands.

"You get to experience something wild, right where you drive by all the time," said Ashley Lockwood, educator at Audubon Center at Riverlands.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Pere Marquette State Park will offer 14 different Eagle Days sessions through March.

"Every year we welcome thousands of American bald eagles to the Great River Road region, and so the first Saturday of every January is our Eagle Ice Festival here in Alton and around the Riverbend area," said Cory Jobe, president of the Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau.

Learn to distinguish between immature and mature bald eagles, what they eat, why they spend winter months in our area and much more.

Reservations are required. To make yours, call 618-786-3323 ext. 1.

You'll also want to dress warmly, wear water- and mud-resistant shoes, have a full tank of gas and bring binoculars and a camera!

Here's the Bald Eagle Days tour schedule:

  • Thursday, Jan. 12.
  • Thursday, Jan. 19.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 1.
  • Friday, Feb. 3.
  • Monday, Feb. 6.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 14.
  • Thursday, Feb. 16.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 22.
  • Thursday, Feb. 23.
  • Friday, Feb. 24.
  • Thursday, March 2.
  • Thursday, March 9.

Each program begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Pere Marquette State Park Visitor's Center.

There will be a video presentation and program followed by an observational drive to view the wintering bald eagles.

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