Warmer weather affecting eagle watching along the river

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WEST ALTON, MO (KTVI) - Whether you’re a casual observer or just have a want and need to get in the great outdoors there is still an opportunity to see eagles in the area.

“If you see a large raptor with a white head and white tail you’re looking at a bald eagle,” says Jean Favara, Conservation Mgr. Audubon Center Riverlands.

On Monday, Fox 2 spied some trumpeter swans and eagles through the scopes at the Audubon Center at Riverlands near the Clark Bridge in West Alton, Missouri.

This area is known as the Mississippi Flyway where 60 percent of North American birds will use this route as they migrate.

“We are at the confluence of two rivers the Mississippi and the Missouri and eagles like to roost in large trees next to these big rivers,” Favara said.

There weren’t any eagles near the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, but the Alton Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is getting reports of them all around Alton.

“We got a couple weeks left,” said Brett Stawar, president and CEO of the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I we’re kind of reaching our peak right now. We’re seeing about 130 to 150 eagles throughout the week when we do our counts.”

Up the Great River Road in Grafton, it's warmer weather this winter, which means no ice blocks and eagles floating downstream. But they are here if you have a keen eye and some patience. And that’s what’s bringing more visitors to the area and revenue for the Riverbend.

“Each year it’s over a million dollars,” said Stawar. “This year so far for January at the Alton Visitors Center we were up over 1,500 people over last year coming through the doors.”