Illinois hunting and fishing

The chase is on at Starved Rock. Photos by Chris Young.

Photo essay: eagle-watching on the Illinois River

January 22, 2012 at 07:37 PM

It’s been a winter tradition for almost 15 years to pack up the kids and go to Starved Rock State Park to see the bald eagles.

When the first eagle-watching weekend was held, organizers held their collective breath, hoping at least one eagle would be in the trees overlooking the Starved Rock lock and dam.

Over the years, it has been fun to watch the event grow along with the number of eagles spending the winter months along the Illinois River.

Most years, thousands of visitors turn out to see dozens of eagles.

A recent count from Starved Rock put the number at 16.

A little cold weather between now and next weekend would help concentrate the eagles near the dam where they are easier to see.

This year’s event is Jan. 28-29 at the Starved Rock Lodge and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.

Here is a sampling of photos taken over the years. They were taken at Starved Rock, but they could have been taken most anywhere along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

Take a minute to look up at the sky this winter. Keep an eye out for the American bald eagle, our nation’s symbol and a true conservation success story.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Eagles compete for fish below the Starved Rock Dam.

Illinois hunting and fishing

American Indian traditional dances are demonstrated at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Eagles soar against the backdrop of Starved Rock.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Thousands of people turn out for raptor programs and exhibits by conservation organizations.

Illinois hunting and fishing

A tree on Leopold Island in the Illinois River was full of eagles in 2010.

Illinois hunting and fishing

A celebrity arrives at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.

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