Staff at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in Holt County will hold their 41st annual Eagle Days event next month.
Lindsey Landowski, refuge manager, said the two-day event during eagle migration in December is free and open to the public. The event often attracts thousands of visitors each year and highlights the benefits of the large bird migration to the nearby agricultural communities.
As many as 300 immature and adult bald eagles, and an occasional golden eagle, may be seen during the migration peak which is usually by the first of December.
A record of 476 bald eagles were counted during a 2001 survey. The first recorded successful bald eagle nest fledged three young eaglets in the summer of 1997.
While some eagles are residents, the migrating eagles leave the refuge in the spring and summer to return to lakes and streams in the northern forests.
Eagle Days will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Landowski said attendees to Eagle Days can drive around the refuge auto tour route independently or take advantage of a free guided bus tour and stop at eagle viewing stations staffed by volunteers to view the birds up close with spotting scopes.
The free guided bus tours on Saturday will be every half hour from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the guided bus tours on Sunday will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every hour.
She said there will be a live captive eagle program by the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri, which will showcase rehabilitated birds.
The live captive eagle shows will be every hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The event is hosted in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, which started hosting Eagle Days in 1978 to educate the public about eagles and how they could help with a planned restoration effort.
In the early 1980s, a project to bring nesting bald eagles back to Missouri began. Over a period of 11 years, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Dickerson Park Zoo obtained 74 eaglets from captive breeding facilities or healthy wild populations and set them up in artificial nests at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge and Schell-Osage Conservation Area in Missouri.
The restoration efforts by various groups was successful and the number of birds increased.
In addition, there will be special eagle exhibits on display at the event and Remington Nature Center volunteers will help with crafts for children. Fairytale Face Paint will be at the event for face painting creations.
The Midland Empire Audubon Society will be selling wild bird seed and feeders and the refuge visitor center nature shop will be open. The Mound City Boy Scouts will have food and drink for sale.
For more information, call at 660-442-3187 or visit https://www.facebook.com/LoessBluffsNWR/.