From staff reports
Bald eagles are making their way into the area with the cold weather, and there is no shortage of opportunities — or options — for viewing them.
The village of Stella, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and state parks in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas have a number of events planned, including cruises on Beaver Lake.
“As a rule, we go out every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday ... on our pontoon boat,” said Josephine Barry, manager of the visitor center at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in Benton County, Ark.
The cruises take place in the Van Winkle arm of Beaver Lake, one of the more remote parts of the lake.
The cruises are in such demand that park officials have added extra tours for the holidays, including Monday, Tuesday and Friday of next week.
All cruises leave at 3 p.m. Pre-registration is required and may be arranged by dialing 479-789-5000.
“It’s a great eagle season on Beaver Lake,” Barry said. “There has not been a cruise that hasn’t seen eagles.”
The cruises leave from the Rocky Branch Marina and take about 90 minutes. The cost is $10 for adults, and $5 for children ages 6 through 12. Children under 6 are admitted free.
People should dress for the weather and bring binoculars, Barry said.
“We go out in all kinds of weather,” she said. “The only thing that will keep us at the docks is high winds.”
At 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, ornithologist Joe Neal will give a program at the park on the winter birds at Beaver Lake. At 3 p.m., Lynn Sciumbato will present a program called “Raptor Rescue.”
Other eagle viewing events are set for Saturday, Jan. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 16, at Roaring River State Park near Cassville.
A video about bald eagles in Missouri will be shown at 3 p.m. After the video, participants will go outside the nature center to watch bald eagles come in to roost for the night. Binoculars and warm clothing usually are needed.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has an Eagle Days event set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center. On hand will be Phoenix, a bald eagle from the Dickerson Park Zoo. There will be eagle viewing opportunities at the Lake Springfield Boathouse and Marina. An indoor program on eagles will be held every hour on the hour at the nature center.
The village of Stella in Newton County will hold its fourth annual Eagle Days on Jan. 26. The event has been growing in popularity each year, according to Chuck Dalbom, who helps organize it.
“Last year, they had over 1,000 people,” Dalbom said.
Eagle Days usually begins at 10 a.m. and wraps up at dusk. The Missouri Department of Conservation sends a master naturalist to help educate visitors about eagles.
“We’re seeing them already,” Dalbom said of the eagles. “They are not here in large numbers, but they are coming down. As the weather gets colder up north, they will drift on down this way.”
ALTHOUGH NO FORMAL EVENTS are scheduled, the Schell-Osage Conservation Area in Vernon County is another popular spot for viewing eagles.