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Bald Eagles are starting to gather on the Mississippi River for the winter

WEST ALTON, MO – The eagles are returning to the St. Louis area.

Not the ones now featuring Vince Gill and Deacon Frey.  They will land at Scottrade Center March 18.

But the feathered kind that folks want to fly like and soar with, well those are already here.

“Anything that I can see that is a black spot, 99.99% of the time that`s an eagle,” says Jean Favara, Conservation Manager Audubon Center at Riverlands Nature Preserve.  “Because at this distance it`s the only bird big enough to see with my eye.”

The silver lining of the sub-zero temperatures that a blanketed much of the United States, is bringing greater numbers of the great bird to the Gateway City.

At the Audubon Center at Riverlands Nature Preserve in West Alton, 15 eagles have been spotted so far.

Further north near Clarksville, Missouri as many as 50 eagles have been seen by lock and dam 24.

“They generally only go as far South as they have to,” says Favara.  “So, they look for open waters.  So, any areas that have some open water, they can be found there.”

Some 60% of North American birds use the Mississippi flyway in the St. Louis region.

On our trip Monday along the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway from Alton to Pere Marquette State Park we spotted just a handful of Bald Eagles.

But another area to consider, the Melvin Price Lock and Dam.

You might call it a Corps of Engineers Cuisinart serving up some sushi for these big birds.

“Well it certainly keeps the open water because the water is flowing through the lock and dam, it helps keep the open water there,” says Favara.  “Sometimes fish will get stunned when they go through the dams and that brings them up to the surface and makes fishing a lot easier.”

So, keep your eyes open for some eagles, because last week`s cold spell north of here means better chances of seeing the national bird in this national league town.