Thursday, December 17, 2015


Stella eagle on cruise control, March 22, 2015, Springfield, MO - Becky Swearingen
Posting by Becky Swearingen, MN

STELLA!   The title, of course, is an homage to A Streetcar Named Desire, however, this blog is about eagles and Stella, Missouri. I spent the rainy Sunday of December 13th going to Stella, Missouri, to see if the convocation of eagles had arrived yet. It was still a little early, but I know they will arrive.

      December 13, 2015, Stella, Missouri - Becky Swearingen
My first time to Stella was in 2011 during the annual Eagle Days. The Chert Glades Master Naturalist group participates in the Stella Eagle Days. That is when I took my first decent shot of an eagle as it sat perched in a tree just above my head.  I’ve gone to Stella several times since then, getting more shots of eagles – one of my favorite photographic subjects.
Stella eagles in 2010 - Jeff Cantrell MDC
Eagles start gathering in Stella in December of every year. Stella itself has a human population of around 150, but during the winter it may have as many as 400 Bald Eagles in residence. They arrive from the Great Lakes region following flocks of Canada Geese, picking off sick and injured birds.

April 19, 2015, Springfield, MO
They stay in Stella partly because it is at the confluence of four watersheds: Indian and Shoal creeks, and Big Sugar and Elk rivers.  The Department of Conservation reports that there are eight active nests in the Stella area, so there is also a nice year round population of birds. In fact, I got to see this juvenile when I was there on December 13th.

December 13, Stella, Mo  2 ½ - 3 year old bald eagle.
At three they have the “Bandit mask - Jeff Cantrell - Photo by Becky
--> April 18, 2015, Redwing Prairie Conservation Area  If you’ve never gotten over to Stella, I recommend heading there sometime during this winter. Eagle Days is a good time to go as there will be spotting scopes set up for viewing, but I have found that no matter when you go in the winter, there will be eagles for you to view and enjoy.

Benjamin Franklin is frequently quoted as despising the eagle as a "Bird of bad moral character," this from a founding father who was "an inveterate flirt, and who sired an illegitimate child before his 1730 wedding." He was bothered by eagles who he felt only stole from other fishing birds.  

Between flirting and fathering it seems unlikely that Franklin had much of a chance to watch eagles.  Fishing in Canada, Bob Ranney and I watched as our guide whistled shrilly at an eagle across the bay, then threw a gutted walleye out on the lake and watched the eagle swoop in and grab it without a ripple on the water.  At Sac Osage in the pre-digital days we photographed eagles feasting on geese frozen in the ice, then trading off on stumps to warm their feet while others joined the party.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my BEAUTIFUL captures of the bald eagle, superb photo shots.