Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days is presented by Ameren Missouri and features opportunities to view wild bald eagles in their natural habitat as well as up-close during numerous interpretive programs throughout the weekend. While the bald eagles are the main draw, attendees also will be able to learn about several other species of Missouri's birds of prey, including peregrine falcons, American kestrels and a variety of owls. All Eagle Days events are free to attend and open to the public.
"Eagle Days is a great way to shake off the cabin fever that can start setting in during a long winter," says Tim Jacobsen, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau. "It doesn't matter how old you are, it's always a thrill to see real, live bald eagles perched in a tree or swooping down towards the Lake to catch a meal. On top of that, the interpretative programs are fascinating and you can learn so much about some of Missouri's largest birds. It's a really neat event and a highlight of the season for many visitors and locals, too."
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, more than 2,000 bald eagles are typically reported in Missouri during the winter, thus making the "Show-Me" state one of the leading lower 48 states for bald eagle viewing. Each fall, thousands of bald eagles migrate south from their nesting range in Canada and the Great Lakes area to take up residence in Missouri. The meandering shoreline and tree cover surrounding the Lake of the Ozarks make the area an ideal spot for these majestic feathered creatures during their winter sabbatical.
Eagle Days events get underway at 9 a.m. and run until 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4, and from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5.
Typically, around 4,000 spectators show up throughout the weekend to enjoy the activities and learn about Missouri's birds of prey.
There will be four total locations throughout the the city of Lake Ozark featuring scheduled Eagle Days activities.
Osage National Golf Resort, 400 Osage Hills Road, hosts interpretive programs presented by the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis.
The programs take place every hour, on the hour, beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday and at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The entertaining and educational programs include presentations of a variety of eagles by the organization's naturalists as well as questions and answers from the audience. The last presentation on Saturday finishes up at 4 p.m. and the final presentation on Sunday concludes at 3 p.m.
There will be many activities and exhibitors at the School of the Osage Heritage Elementary, 1571 Bagnell Dam Boulevard, throughout the weekend. The highlight of the activities at the elementary school is presentations by the Dickerson Park Zoo of Springfield, Mo. Staff members from the zoo offer two rotating interactive programs, one focusing on bald eagles and another program featuring peregrine falcons, American kestrels and owls. The programs occur every hour beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Additional activities at the elementary school include coloring and photography contests as well as face painting. Listed exhibitors include Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri State Parks and the Lake of the Ozarks chapter of Missouri Naturalists, to name a few.
Activities at the School of the Osage conclude at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Attendees interested in wild eagle viewing will have two locations to choose from. Willmore Lodge, 1 Willmore Lane, has many prime eagle-watching view points overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks and will also feature interactive exhibits and locally-made crafts on display. Willmore Lodge will be open from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The Bagnell Dam Access, located roughly three miles from Willmore Lodge off of Highway 54 on Osage River Bridge Road, is another great place to view eagles in the wild. Additionally,
visitors to the Bagnell Dam Access also will be able to watch eagle nest-building demonstrations by Master Naturalists. Free hot chocolate will be available at the Bagnell Dam Access. Activities at the Bagnell Dam Access run from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
According to the event organizers, the best way to enjoy Eagle Days is by dressing warmly and bringing cameras, binoculars and/or spotting scopes.
Anyone planning to attend the Eagle Days activities will find an ample selection of accommodations to fit all sizes of groups and budgets. Guests can choose from resorts, cabins, condos, vacation homes, hotels, motels, campgrounds and RV parks as well as bed and breakfasts. Some offer special winter and holiday lodging rates where travelers can save as much as 40 percent off in-season rates.