It’s Eagle Watching Time In Illinois: Here Are The Best Places
When you hear things like "Illinois has around 3,100 bald eagles spending part of the winter in 27 counties" you'd think that we'd see a lot more of them than we actually do.
It's not that they're trying to keep a low profile, because that ship sailed when it was decided many years ago that the bald eagle would be our national symbol (over Ben Franklin's wish to make the wild turkey the symbol of the newly-independent states). You just have to know where to look.
If you're looking for a spot in Northern Illinois that isn't all that far away, take a ride down Illinois Route 2 along the Rock River between Byron and Oregon. You'll see a really big eyrie (eagle's nest) in the trees just north of Oregon, and bald eagles flying around the bluffs where the Blackhawk statue (also known as The Eternal Indian) is located.
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Which means that we're still right in the optimum time period to get out and take a look at these magnificent birds doing their thing in several spots throughout the state of Illinois.
According to EnjoyIllinois.com, if you're ready for a short road trip for some eagle-watching, here's where you should go for the best chance:
- Galena: They've got tours that will take you to not one, but five terrific spots for eagle watching.
- Alton: Another great eagle-viewing venue with several tour options available, or you can just head out on your own.
- Gladstone: Along the Mississippi River, the sky is full of eagles at Lock and Dam 18.
- Grafton: If you’d rather sit back and relax while in nature, then a guided two-hour shuttled tour with Grafton Eagle Tours is perfect for you and your party.
- Jonesboro: The Union County Refuge is a popular spot for bald eagle watching
- Oglesby: Both Starved Rock and Matthiessen state parks attract large eagle populations in winter, thanks to the nearby Plum Island Eagle Sanctuary on the Illinois River.
- Quincy: Lock and Dam #21 is a wildly popular spot for eagle viewing at this time of year.
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