Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Missouri Has Eagles?

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In spite of Eagle Days announcements on radio and news media, I have had three different people say "You mean there are eagles in Missouri?"  In case you have encountered this question as well, this is a place you can refer them to.
Jeff Cantrell, the conservation education consultant with the MDC in Joplin sent these pictures from the last week Eagle Days at Stella.  Like events at Schell Osage & Springfield, they have plenty of eagles to see in January.  Although it might be a little late to get there now, you might check these spots next January even if you can't make it on the designated Eagle Days.
"Depending on the weather, the area holds 200 - 400 eagles  in the watersheds of Shoal, Indian Creek, Elk and Big Sugar Rivers.  Some great photo opportunities are at Capps Creek Conservation Area and the HWY along Big Sugar State Park (east of Pineville) where you might be at eye level with our national symbol.  The extended area between Neosho and Exeter (HWY 86) / Stella and Wheaton (HWY A) provides excellent opportunities.  Sunday, alone, I had 23 eagles just west of the city limits of Exeter, Capps Creek held several and the sycamores along Indian Creek were loaded."
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As described in MDC Agent Notes, there were no longer nesting eagles in the state until we started raising and releasing them in the 1980s.  There are now almost 150 nesting pairs. "In addition to the nesting birds, Missouri commonly hosts more wintering bald eagles than any other state. These are birds that migrate south to find open water as winter progresses. The birds need open water so they have access to their main source of food, which is fish. Waterfowl also comprise a portion of their diets."
Yes, Virginia (and all the other states), there are eagles in Missouri. 

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