The Missouri Department of Conservation kicks off Eagle Days this weekend, highlighting chances to see bald eagles spending part of the late fall and winter here.
The nearest events are at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge northwest of St. Joseph and at Smithville.
No Eagle Days event is planned this year at La Benite Park in Sugar Creek.
The events begin this weekend at Loess Bluffs (formerly Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge). Informational programs, held at the refuge headquarters, include exhibits and events with live captive eagles. There are guides with spotting scopes. The hours of those programs are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
A road loops through the refuge itself, and typically dozens of bald eagles can be seen daily at this time of year. As of Monday, the refuge reported having 110 bald eagles, including 17 adults with the distinctive white heads. Also: 96,000 geese (mostly snow geese), 71,000 ducks and more than 800 trumpeter swans.
Loess Bluffs is about two hours north of Kansas City, just off Interstate 29, near Mound City.
Dress to stay warm, and take binoculars and maybe a camera. You might want to pack a sandwich and a Thermos of coffee. Amenities are scarce. Call 816-271-3100 for more information.
The Smithville Eagle Days is 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 6 and 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 Jan. 7 at the Smithville Lake Paradise Pointe Golf Course. Call 816-532-0174.
Though it has no Eagle Days programming, the Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge is listed by the Department of Conservation as a good place to see eagles. It’s northeast of Kansas City, near Sumner, Mo. As of Tuesday, it reported 55 bald eagles, 26 trumpeter swans, seven sandhill cranes, nearly 26,000 geese and 111,000 ducks.
Other Eagle Days:
• Jan. 13 and 14 at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of Interstate 270 off Riverview Drive in St. Louis. Call 314-301-1500.
• Jan. 20 and 21 at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center. Call 417-888-4237.
• Jan. 27 at the Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City. Call 573-526-5544.
• Jan. 27 and 28 from at Lock and Dam 24 and the Apple Shed Theater in Clarksville. Call 660-785-2424.
• Feb. 3 at the Schell City Community Center and the Schell Osage Conservation Area. Call 417-876-5226.
In addition to Smithville, Loess Bluffs and Swan Lake, the Department of Conservation also lists many other hot spots for eagles: Truman Lake, the Schell-Osage Conservation Area north of El Dorado Springs, the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Route K southwest of Columbia (the Katy Trail runs through the edge of it), the Bagnell Dam access east of Bagnell at the Lake the of Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery near Branson, Moses Eagle Park in Stella in the southwest corner of the state, the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge near Puxico in southeast Missouri, the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, and the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area east of West Alton. Also, three spots on the Mississippi River: Lock and Dam 20 at Canton, Lock and Dam 24 at Clarksville, and Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield.