Bald Eagle Watching

Each year, up to 2,500 Bald Eagles make the trees and bluffs along the Mississippi River their winter roosting grounds, as the water stays open and free of ice on this portion of the river. Bald Eagle watches usually occur in January and February, but eagles can be seen from mid-December through early March. It all depends on the weather. As warm weather arrives, most eagles will begin their journey back north to northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada to prepare for the nesting season.

This year is the 44th year of bald eagle education in the area!

Eagles are amazing birds. They are not really bald, but develop white feathers on their heads at five years of age. Immature Bald Eagles have dark heads. A mature eagle will have a wing-span of 6 to 8 feet, 7,000 feathers and weighs 8 to 11 pounds. Their eyesight is even better than humans. They can read a newspaper a football field length away!

Bald Eagle Events

Quad Cities Bald Eagle Days
Friday - Sunday, January 10-12, 2013
QCCA Expo Center, 2621 4th Avenue, Rock Island, IL
Hours: 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm Friday, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm Saturday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday

Mississippi River Visitor Center
Arsenal Island, Rock Island
Jan. 4, 5, 25, & 26; Feb. 1, 2, 8, & 9.
Combination eagle watches and historical clock tower tours
Saturday and Sunday times are 9:00 am and 12:30 pm
Reservations required. Group size is limited. Please call 309-794-5338.

Bald Eagle Safaris
Get an up close view on a Bald Eagle Safari with Bob Motz. He provides spotting scopes that magnify 15 to 45 times and mount on the car window frame for good viewing of eagles in trees. You can see the yellow of their eye, the nostrils in the beak, and the black talons of their feet. Binoculars are also provided to see eagles in flight. The safaris make good birthday and anniversary gifts. Cost is $20 per hour for one to four people. Two or three-hour safaris are recommended. Call Bob at 309-269-3922 or email him at to arrage a safari.

Good Watching Places

The Mississippi River Visitors Center on Arsenal Island, between Davenport, IA and Rock Island, IL has scopes set up for viewing and eagle cams set up throughout the area. The best spots are:

Bald Eagle EventsBald Eagle Viewing Locations

Eagle Etiquette

The bald eagles are under pressure to use as little energy as possible in order to maintain body heat. Therefore, it is important that resting eagles are not frightened to the point of flying off and burning up badly needed energy. You can help the eagle survive by not approaching them and staying close to or in your car as you watch. Bring binoculars to get an up-close view.

Determine what you are viewing. Although the white head and tail of an adult bald eagle make it unmistakable, a juvenile eagle goes through a series of plumage changes on its way to maturity. Juvenile eagles exhibit a brownish color and do not acquire the white head and tail under they reach four or five years of age.

Be sure to bundle up! The eagles like the really cold weather.


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