Eagle watching opportunities provided along Illinois River

By Ryne Turke on February 1, 2016 at 1:26pm

West Central Illinoisans will have some excellent eagle watching opportunities starting this month.

Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge manager Bob Barry says an abundance of eagles can be spotted along the Illinois River in February.

Barry says eagles come to the Illinois River during the winter to concentrate on hunting water fowl.

Barry notes that eagles are no longer on the endangered species list and have been downgraded to “threatened”. He says you never know how many eagles you will spot along the Illinois River. Some years there are just a handful, but other years he has seen hundreds.

Barry passes along some tips for first time eagle watchers.

“You can scan up and down the river. Normally they will be sitting in a tree or flying overhead. They hunt fish and water fowl, so they are normally tied to areas that have water.”

Barry says there are some unique locations for good eagle spotting in Illinois.

“Even in Peoria, there are people that say you can go to the Steak N Shake across from the river and see eagles fly up and down the river.”

Individuals seeking the full eagle watching experience can check out the 16th annual Eagle Day Festival in Havana and Lewiston on February 6th.

Barry says the tour sites attract between 80-100 vehicles. Due to excessive flooding this year, the tour loop will be closed.

For a full list of free eagle watching activities, contact the refuge department at 309-535-2290.