We went to Stella Missouri this last weekend on the promise of lots of eagles and we weren't disappointed. It took us a little while to find them but once we did, they seemed to be everywhere! Our total count was 21, most were flying but we also saw a lot just hanging out in the trees.
We had heard reports that the week before someone had taken a picture and counted 80 eagles in one image! Now that must have been amazing. They call this a "hot spot" for wintering eagles and conservationists have counted up to 200 in this area alone.
Stella is a magical spot, an intersection of four watersheds of Indian and Shoal creeks, and Big Sugar and Elk rivers. It's a place formerly known as The Village of Springs. Now it's southwest Missouri's bald eagle winter respite. It's a secret, perhaps, that Moses Eagle, a Cherokee Native American, knew when he named the town for his granddaughter, Stella Eagle, in the early 1900s.
We had a beautiful day for a drive, it was around 70º and clear. We headed out for Stella and found quite a few folks with cameras and telescopes set up near the school just inside the town. They were watching one eagle sitting in a tree along with at least three maybe more, flying around overhead. After not successfully getting any pics there we moved on to the Veteran's Park area where the Missouri Conservation Dept had set up tables with info, a mock eagles nest and lots of folks willing to talk about eagles.
From there with directions to some other sites to find the eagles we set out and it seemed the countryside was full of folks doing the same thing we were. The next spot to check was close to the town park down by the river where someone had baited the area with a bunch of dead chickens hoping to lure the eagles in. We found one down there but again he was too far away for a good picture. So we decided to strike out on our own and see what we could find.
While we were driving down a tree covered road we came across a lot of folks looking straight up into the trees at one just hanging out. We weren't more than 100 yards away and he didn't seem bothered at all! That's where I got my best picture, I had to shoot up into the trees from shade so I had to adjust the lighting a bit. But I think it came out pretty nice. We were on a narrow state hwy so we had to go a ways to turn around and way out in the field we saw 5 eagles soaring around, we could even hear them calling to each other!
© 2011 by Rottlady
After that we decided to drive east towards Shell Knob to head home while looking out for more eagles. We weren't disappointed, as you all know, my sister has an eagle eye and she found some in the trees along the highway. We turned around and found a good spot to see them across a big field and that's where I got the picture of three maybe 6 of them! It could be that some of the birds in that picture are crows, we don't know for sure. These birds all started flying around and diving towards the fields possibly hunting for fiend mice or something but we sat there and listened to them communicate and just play around for almost 30 minutes. Now that was fun!
I count 6 birds in this image, I know three are eagles for sure, the others could be crows.
© 2011 by Rottlady
I may not have detailed all the eagles we saw but I've done my best. I really enjoyed my Sunday outing and hope to do it again!