CHICAGO – Each winter, an estimated 3,000 bald eagles migrate to Illinois, making the state one of the best locations in the country to catch a glimpse of America’s national bird. This winter, Illinois offers several eagle watching opportunities around the state.
Pere Marquette State Park Bald Eagle Days, Grafton
Now through March 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
A scenic observational drive up the bluffs of Pere Marquette State Park provides opportunities for guests to view the wintering birds. Informational programs teach visitors how to distinguish the difference between immature and mature eagles, what eagles eat and why they spend the winter months in areas like Illinois. Admission is free, but reservations are required. While in Grafton, get an eagle-eye view on the new Grafton Sky Tour, a unique aerial lift now open at Aerie’s Resort & Winery, offering amazing views overlooking the majestic Mississippi River.
Eagle Meet and Greet, Alton
Jan. 4-25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Visitors can see a live bald eagle up close and learn more their species and habitats at Alton’s Eagle Meet and Greet. The month kicks off on Jan. 4 with the Alton-Audubon Eagle Ice Festival where families can see eagles, enjoy cold weather games and watch ice sculptors create works of art at the Alton Visitor Center.
Eagle Days at Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, Edwardsville
Jan. 18-19 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Eagle lovers of all ages are invited to watch as thousands of eagles fish, ride ice floes, soar overhead and perch in nearby trees surrounding Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. The event also features a bald eagle meet and greet at the Treehouse Wildlife Center that specializes in the rehabilitation of eagles in an effort to re-release them into the wild.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Eagle Watch, Marion
Jan. 25-26 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is home to six pairs of eagles and their offspring. Guided tours take visitors to the eagle nests and through areas of high eagle-traffic, making it a great place to ensure an eagle sighting.
Bald Eagle Watch Weekend, Starved Rock
Jan. 25-26 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
This two-day event offers many eagle-watching programs, activities and exhibits occurring simultaneously at three separate locations: Starved Rock Lodge; the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center; and the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center. Visitors are encouraged to take a trolley shuttle between the locations as each are a short driving distance from the other. Make it a weekend getaway at the Starved Rock Lodge and cabins.
Great River Eagle Days, Quincy
Jan. 25-26 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Immerse yourself in Native American tradition and cultures at the annual Great River Eagle Days at the Oakley Lindsay Center. See Aztec dances by the Omeyocan Dance Company while perusing Native American vendors and food booths plus a traditional Blessing of the Eagle Ceremony.
To download bald eagle photos and b-roll click here.
For more information about planning an Illinois getaway, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism manages industry efforts that result in sustainable and significant economic and quality-of-life benefits for Illinois residents.