f you are tired of being indoors and would like to do something outside you may want to think about looking for bald eagles, reports Doug Yeager, a Missouri Department of Conservation agent in Platte County.
There have been numerous bald eagle sightings in the county, mostly along the Platte River and Missouri River bottoms. Last week there were 35 eagles on the Platte River near Hwy. 45, says Yeager.
On Friday morning, Feb. 5, a Landmark reader reported seeing eight eagles along Hwy. 371 not far from the Platte Ridge Park north of Platte City.
There has also been numerous Eagles at Smithville Lake. Driving gravel roads in the river bottoms, eagles can easily be watched from your vehicle.
Most eagles will tolerate a vehicle but it seems as soon as you step out of the vehicle they will fly away, Yeager says.
Be sure to take binoculars or a spotting scope. Bald eagles have 20/5 vision which means they can see something five times further away than a person.
An infrequent visitor to Missouri is the golden eagle. Juvenile bald eagles look like golden eagles since their heads are dark and have minor color differences.
It takes up to five years for a bald eagle to acquire the distinctive white head and tail feathers. Golden eagles are best identified by being fully feathered to their feet. Bald eagle legs are unfeathered with yellow ankles.
Eagles typically eat fish but they will take advantage of any carrion they find. They will also hunt rabbits, waterfowl and small mammals.
The bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 1995 and there are numerous nesting sites around Missouri. An eagle’s nest may be six feet across and three feet deep and is added to every year by the same breeding pair since they typically mate for life.
Females tend to be slightly larger than males, with a wingspan of eight feet and weigh 14 pounds. Males typically have a six foot wingspan and weigh 10 pounds.
Yeager say in recent years there has been as many as three active bald eagle nests in Platte County.