Crowds enjoy Eagle Days in Clarksville
Alex McGrath of the World Bird Sanctuary holds Sabo, a bateleur eagle from Africa, during the live eagle show at the Apple Shed on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Crowds of more than 1,000 per day packed the Apple Shed and watched raptors soar along the Mississippi River at the annual Clarksville Eagle Days Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26.
Beverly Wallis, of Warrenton, was sitting in the crowd Saturday enjoying the live eagle program.
“This is my first time here and I’m really excited,” she said. “The eagles are huge when you see them close up. It’s amazing.”
Introducing the live eagle show was M.J. Walker with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Missouri has from 2,000 to 2,500 wintering eagles each year, second in the nation to Alaska, Walker said.
Many of them fly down the river from Minnesota and Wisconsin and stop at Clarksville to fish.
“The dam keeps the water open,” (from ice) Walker said. “As long as they can find open water, they will stay and don’t go any farther.”
Putting on the program was the World Bird Sanctuary of Valley Park.
Presenter Christina Rankin said the sanctuary’s hospital received 400 birds last year and released 43 percent of them back into the wild after treatment.
Rankin started with an up-close presentation of “Sabo,” a bateleur eagle that was confiscated from trappers. The eagle found in Africa travels up to 300 miles for food, she said.
Most of those in attendance were there to see McGwire, a bald eagle the sanctuary uses for educational venues. McGwire was named after former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire.
Bald eagles are not hairless on their white heads, Rankin said. They get their name from the old English spelling of the word for white, which was balde.
Kathi Moore of the conservation department was also at the show and had coordinated the special Eagle Days held for area students on Friday, Jan. 24.
“We had 800 students, mostly fourth graders from Pike County and Hannibal,” Moore said. “They love it.
“They also get to go to the river and see eagles. To see the look on their faces and the smiles when they see a live eagle in the wild is incredible.”
Mary Korn and Tina Korn of south St. Louis were at the riverfront with binoculars and a camera.
“They’re beautiful with the water in the background,” Mary Korn said. “We’ve been here since seven o’clock this morning.
“We come almost every year. We love to eagle watch.”