Starved Rock not only place to see bald eagles

Kyle Russell, Senior Photographer

It is an iconic symbol, not only for our our school, but also for our country.

It is a species of bird that resides in all seven continents and includes more than 60 different variations with only two native to the United States.

It is the eagle. Here in the Illinois Valley, we get plenty of opportunities to see the Haliaeetus leucocephalus, or bald eagle.
At one point, this beautiful and majestic bird was close to extinction due to substances like DDT and other pesticides in use during the 1930s.

By 1940, decline of numbers within in the bald eagle species recieved national attention as the bird was placed on the endangered species list.

Sixty-seven years later, in 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list primarily thanks to changes in pesticide use and close monitoring by conservation efforts.

Starved Rock State Park offers great viewing areas for eagles. The prime time for eagle viewing is the last week of December through the first week in February.

The coldest weather is the best for viewing as frozen rivers drive the eagles near dams because they will typically remain open due to flowing water.

This will drive the eagles close to where they hunt Asian carp, an invasive species in Midwest waterways.
The Starved Rock dam is a great viewing location with both indoor and outdoor viewing platforms and programs such as Eagle Weekend in February.

If a road trip appeals to you, within an hour and a half you can drive to one of the top viewing areas in the lower 48, Lock and Dam 14 located just over the Mississippi River in Iowa.

Here, on cold days, eagles will land as close as 15 feet in front of you all day long, making it a once in a lifetime experience that everyone should put on their bucket list.

Although we are out of prime eagle season, Starved Rock still is home to several local eagles that nest at the Eastern tip of Ellis Island. If weather permits, take an afternoon trip out to the lock and dam. It may just be the perfect de-stressor during finals week.22