The flash of white catches the eye, even from a distance, silently announcing the approach of our national emblem.
But the beauty of the American bald eagle goes beyond its symbolism. Each year in this state, thousands of Missourians head out into the cold to enjoy watching the majestic birds flying and hunting on rivers and other waterways. With their bright white heads and tails, and wingspans as long as an average professional basketball player is tall, bald eagles are impressive birds to watch.
Parkland residents have a few more weeks to enjoy the eagles, which winter along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, as well as large lakes in central and west central parts of the state. From late December through early February, eagles can be seen perched in large trees along the water’s edge or flying and fishing early in the morning.
You can observe them on your own, or join others Saturday at the Missouri Conservation Department’s (DNR) final Eagle Days of the season.
The DNR sponsors Eagle Days in several locations across the state to educate the public about the birds and provide opportunities for a close-up look. The final event, the closest on to the Parkland, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Puxico. The event is free.
A bald eagle and a golden eagle from the World Bird Sanctuary will be on hand for live eagle presentations. The presentations will start at 9 a.m. and occur every hour until the last one at 4 p.m. There also will be spotting scopes set up on Mingo and Duck Creek Conservation
The refuge is about two hours south of Downtown Farmington. (Head south on U.S. 67 to east Route D, follow to north Route T, then go west on Missouri 51 to Puxico. The Visitor Center is located 1.5 miles north of Puxico on Highway 51.)
Whether you head to the refuge or seek eagles along the river, dress for winter weather. Consider taking along binoculars for a close look or a camera to preserve the sightings.
For those unable to travel to the eagles, turn on the computer and visit the Internet to see the magnificent birds from the comfort of your home. For example, several videos are online here.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.