Quad Cities Is a Winter Resort for Bald Eagles
Each winter when the weather turns cold, the Quad Cities serves as host to a large majority of bald eagles making their annual southern migration from Canada to the unfrozen waters of the Mississippi River.
The Quad Cities celebrates over 50 years of bald eagle education in this region.
Visitors and Quad Citizens alike look to the skies to watch the eagles, easily identified by the white feathers of their heads and tails and their immense wingspans.
A symbol of freedom and strength, and once on the brink of extinction, bald eagles regularly awe visitors who line the banks of the Mississippi River on crisp, clear winter days.
Just down river from Locks and Dams 14 and 15, these magnificent birds of prey gather along the tree-lined banks to spend the winter in the Quad Cities.
The waters of the river remain unfrozen, fish is plentiful and old-growth forests provide prime sites for perching and roosting.
The Quad Cities celebrates the return of these transient residents each winter. The bald eagles seen in the Quad Cities are growing in number. In 2007, the eagle was removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.
Bald Eagle Days is the feature celebration on January 7-9, 2022, at the QCCA Expo Center located at 2621 4th Avenue in Rock Island, Illinois. It is the largest event in the Midwest dedicated to the United States’ national symbol. Hours: Friday 4 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $1 for kids 6-15 years. Free for kids on Friday night.
Thousands of residents and visitors turn out for the annual event which includes: live eagle programs and live bird of prey demonstrations. There are over 100 display booths and a 20-foot climbing tower. Visit the spotting scopes set up and manned by the Quad City Audubon Society at Sunset Marina in Rock Island for a great eagle watching opportunity with free shuttle bus service from the Expo Center. For more information, visit www.qccaexpocenter.com
Eagles are amazing birds. They are not really bald but develop white feathers on their heads at five years of age. Immature Bald Eagles have dark heads. A mature eagle will have a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet, has 7,000 feathers, and weighs 8 to 11 pounds. Their eyesight is seven times better than humans. They could even read a newspaper a football field length away.
The Mississippi River Visitor Center on Arsenal Island, between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois, is a great location for eagle viewing anytime. The Mississippi River Visitor Center is open Tuesday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please access Arsenal Island through the downtown Moline security gate and adults need a current U.S. picture ID. For more information, visit www.missriver.org
These are prime outdoor viewing locations in the QC where eagles are known to congregate in the trees near the river so you can go eagle watching anytime on your own.
Lock & Dam 15, Schwiebert Riverfront Park, 17th St. & 1st Ave., Rock Island, Illinois
Lock & Dam 15, 101 W. 2nd St., Davenport, Iowa
Lock & Dam 14, 25549 182nd St., Pleasant Valley, Iowa
Sylvan Island, 101 1st Avenue, Moline, Illinois
Illiniwek Forest Preserve, 836 State Ave., Hampton, Illinois
Hampton Heritage Center, 251 S. State Ave., Hampton, Illinois
Credit Island Park, 2200 W River Dr., Davenport, Iowa
Be sure to bundle up! The eagles like the really cold weather. Please remember your eagle etiquette if you’re going bald eagle watching. Bald eagles are under pressure to use as little energy as possible in order to maintain body heat. Therefore, it is important resting eagles are not frightened to the point of flying off and burning up badly needed energy. You can help the eagles survive by not approaching them and staying close to or in your car as you watch.
After eagle watching, spend the weekend in the Quad Cities enjoying other winter activities such as downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, winter biking, and winter hiking at any one of the area’s forest preserves or parks. There are also museums, attractions, theatres, and live music venues to round out your trip. Contact Visit Quad Cities at 800-747-7800 or visit their website at www.visitquadcities.com.
The Quad Cities is located on the Mississippi River and is made up of the riverfront cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Moline, East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois. The region is just a 2-½ hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. It is easily accessible via I-80, I-74, I-88 and several major state highways.
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