They're back and they're flying. Once again, area residents and visitors can take up the winter pastime of eagle watching.
It doesn't take a special event to view these birds. Taking a drive between the locks and dams along the Mississippi River in Illinois or Iowa, or even a journey along the Rock River and its dams, can provide a good view of the bald eagle.
Communities, however, have set aside times for events that revolve around the eagles. Bald Eagle Days is going on today through Sunday at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island. Here, visitors will find live bird of prey demonstrations and live eagle programs. Other animals can be seen, including those from Niabi Zoo and Pella Wildlife Co.'s wolves. More than 100 vendors will have displays, and those feeling vigorous can climb a 20-foot tower. Viewing of the eagles has been arranged by the Quad City Audubon Society at Sunset Marina. A free shuttle bus will take passengers there from the expo center.
Between Rock Island and Davenport, Iowa, the Mississippi River Visitor Center on Arsenal Island will have free eagle watches and clock tower tours Jan. 25 and 26, and Feb. 1, 2, 8, and 9. Reservations are required for this particular occasion.
In Galena, bald eagle bus tours take 4 hours and include a look at the birds as they roost, nest, or feed. The journey leaves at 8 a.m. from the Stone Creek Inn. Again, reservations are required.
The eagles are busy birds in Iowa. The 30th annual Keokuk Bald Eagle Appreciation Days are Jan. 18 and 19. Along with eagle viewing at the riverfront, there are free indoor programs, an environmental fair, and pioneer activities for children.
Dubuque's Bald Eagle Watch is Jan. 18 at the Grand River Center. Free trolley rides take visitors to eagle viewing locations. Also look for children's activities and educational displays.
Muscatine visitors will find the Eagles & Ivories Concert Series Weekend to be Jan. 24 to 26. A 3-day concert package is available. And in Muscatine, outdoor viewing is at Lock and Dam 16 Jan. 25, as well as live eagle programs at the Pearl City Station.
Later in Burlington, those interested in learning about the bald eagles can join in an eagle watch Jan. 26, where they can help count the birds at Lock and Dam 18. The event starts at the Welcome Center.
All in all, there are plenty of eagles to watch and many choices as to how and where it's done. Don't miss an opportunity to "soar" with the eagles while they're here.
If you go
What: Eagle watching
Bald Eagle Days; 4 to 8 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; QCCA Expo Center, 2621 Fourth Ave., Rock Island. Cost: $5 for adults, $1 for children. Information: www.qccaexpocenter.com.
Eagle watching and clock tower tours: 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26 and Feb. 1, 2, 8, and 9; Mississippi River Visitor Center, Arsenal Island, Lock and Dam 15; free. Reservations and information: www.missriver.org or 309-794-5338.
Bald Eagle bus tours: 8 a.m. Feb. 8 and 22, Stoney Creek Inn, 940 Galena Square Drive, Galena. Cost: $70 for adults, $50 youth younger than 17. Reservations: 815-594-2306. Information: www.galena.org or 815-594-2306.
Keokuk Bald Eagle Appreciation Days: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 18-19, River City Mall, 300 Main St., Keokuk, Iowa. Eagle viewing scopes 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the riverfront. Information: www.keokukiowatourism.org.
Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 18, Grand River Center, 500 Bell St., Dubuque, Iowa; 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. free trolley to eagle viewing locations. Free. Information: www.traveldubuque.com.
Eagle Watch: 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 25, Welcome Center, Port of Burlington, 400 N. Front St., Burlington, Iowa. Help count eagles at Lock and Dam 18. Information: 319-753-5808.
In Muscatine, Iowa – Eagles & Ivories Concert Series Weekend, Jan. 24-26. Tickets are $15, available at door; 3-day package $40. Information and times: www.muscatineartscouncil.org.
Eagle watching, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 25 Lock and Dam 16. Live eagle programs at 9:30 and 11 a.m., Pearl City Station, 1100 Harbor Drive in Riverside Park. Information: www.visitmuscatine.com or 563-263-7913.