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Eagle Days offers weekend of chances for observing majestic birds

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A bald eagle sweeps down on its prey in an Ozarks lake. As many as 2,500 of the majestic national bird spend the coldest months of winter in the Ozarks.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In winter, the Ozarks is an excellent region to view magnificent bald eagles. During this time of year, the state’s growing resident eagle population is swelled by migrating birds from the north, increasing their numbers to more than 2,500 eagles during some winters.

Lured by recent extreme temperatures, eagles are likely to be even more prevalent for the Eagle Days event on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 20 and Jan. 21 at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center at 4601 S. Nature Center Way. Eagle Days is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, Dickerson Park Zoo and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. All events are free and open to the public..

Guided eagle spotting, with both Springfield/Greene County Parks and Missouri Department of Conservation Department staff, takes place around Lake Springfield from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Moreover, the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game abasing the Tennessee Titans does not begin until 4:35 p.m.

Participants are invited to bring binoculars, telephoto lenses or small telescopes, or use scopes provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Spotting scopes will be set up outside the Springfield/Greene County Park Board’s Lake Springfield Boathouse and Marina for chances to view eagles at Lake Springfield. For more information about Eagle Days, call 417-888-4237 or visit MDC.Mo.gov/EagleDays.

Lake Springfield Park also includes the 3/4-mile James River Greenway Trail and the 1/4-mile Greater Ozarks Audubon Trail, both perfect for spotting eagles and other birds.

Eagle Days also brings indoor eagle programs to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Springfield Conservation Nature Center, 4601 S. Nature Center Way, Springfield. Programs feature both Phoenix, a bald eagle, and Aquila, a golden eagle, from Dickerson Park Zoo, along with zoo staff and volunteers. Programs begin hourly from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.  Sunday’s programs begin hourly from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Programs are an hour long.

The indoor portion of the Eagle Days, which will be at the Nature Center, includes activities, crafts, and an opportunity to view a live captive bald eagle furnished by Dickerson Park Zoo of Springfield. On Jan. 20, live eagle programs will be offered every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Jan. 21, programs will be at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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