Eagle Days return to Chain of Rocks this weekend

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – Don't let the frozen ice chunks on the Mississippi river fool you, warmer temperatures are on their way this weekend, and so are the eagles.

'It's one of the largest eagle viewing events in the whole state of Missouri and certainly in the area,' says Dan Zarlenga, Missouri Department of Conservation.  'Last year we had 8,000 people show up.'

Tuesday at the historic Chain of Rocks Bridge, crews put warming tents in place for Saturday and Sunday's annual Eagle Days.

'Well the bridge and area gets its name from a shoal of rocks that the water rushes over,' says Zarlenga.  'When the fish go over that they get stunned and brought to the surface and fish are eagles’ favorite foods.'

With a wingspan of six to eight feet, and acute vision, 50 times that of a human, this bridge that crosses into Madison County is the perfect place to spot the giant birds on the Mississippi.

'December through February our population of eagles swells tremendously because they're coming in from the North where the water is more frozen there,' says Zarlenga.  'They're here where the water is more open and they can feed on fish.'

In the wild a nest like this can weigh as must as 4,000 pounds, but this weekend you can see a mockup, up close.

The World Bird Sanctuary will be on hand with live demonstrations and volunteers near the spotting scopes will help you spy on the national bird that was almost extinct.

'If we want creatures like the bald eagle to be around 50 or 100 years from now it’s' going to be up to our children to make sure they carry on that legacy,' says Zarlenga.  'So instilling that in them right now is a wonderful thing and this is a great event to help do that.'

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