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NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson Two eagles perch in a dead tree along the Illinois River between La Salle and Shippingsport. The more ice covers the river during the cold snap this week, the more eagles have been congregating near Starved Rock Lock and Dam. The dam becomes a tourist attraction each winter, especially during Eagle Watch Weekend, Jan. 25-26.
Eagle Watch Weekend
Events at the dam Saturday and Sunday include the Birds of Prey educational programs at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Native American dancer performing at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.; face-painting for children. Starved Rock chapter of Illinois Audubon Society will have telescopes available for viewing eagles and will sell refreshments.
Starved Rock Lodge will host a raptor awareness program at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and other activities throughout both days.
The park visitors center offers children’s activities throughout both days.
Bald eagles are the main tourist attraction this weekend, and with the Illinois River ice pack developing, Starved Rock Lock and Dam is becoming the main eagle attraction. Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center at the dam along Dee Bennett Road are hosting Eagle Watch Weekend events 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Gary Shea, manager of the visitor center at the dam, said numbers at the dam this week have increased from about 20 to approximately 25 eagles. He can’t guarantee that many can be viewed easily when people show up for events at the dam Saturday and Sunday, just the same as he can never guarantee anyone when they might be able to watch or photograph eagles eating fish.
“A lot of people try to put human values on them, like, ‘Are they coming in for breakfast or dinner?’” Shea said with a laugh. “There is no such thing in eagle world. They eat when they’re hungry.”
He estimated 60-75 bald eagles have been in the area in recent months, and when waters in the North freeze over, more fly south.
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