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If you’re looking for something fun to do in January in Missouri, why not take a trip to see the bald eagles in Stella, Missouri?
Since we live about 40 miles away, we’ve been a few times. Pre-Covid, Stella hosted an Eagle Days event around the third weekend in January each year. I couldn’t find any information for this year, but like our visit last year, you can drive to Stella to see the eagles without the hosted event by the Chert Glades Missouri Master Naturalists, the Missouri of Department of Conservation and the City of Stella. The eagles show up whether there is a festival or not.
Remembering Our Visit to Stella’s Eagle Days
Veteran’s Memorial Park
Again, last year they didn’t have the festival, and I haven’t seen any information for this year. Still, I hope the festival returns one day in the future.
In Veteran’s Memorial Park, you’ll find booths about the eagles and activities for kids, like face painting.
Kristin got the single “eagle eye.” We were also honored to have the face-painting done by a former student of mine who was finishing up her degree and getting ready to live her dream of being a ranger.
Kristin had a great time with the interactive exhibits, like sitting in an eagle nest.
There were also some food booths. I had to get some Hmong eggrolls, which around here anyway, means there are noodles inside. Yum! We also had some hot chocolate.
Moses Eagle Village Park
After some snacks, we headed over to Moses Eagle Village park on South Ozark Street which runs parallel to South Indian Creek. The trees near this creek is an eagle hotspot in Stella. This park is named for Moses Eagle, an American Indian Cherokee man who moved his family to the area. The town is named for his daughter, Stella.
Bald eagles have always made places in Missouri a winter destination; there are several locations in Missouri that host eagle events and viewing opportunities from late December to early February. Indian Creek is a great draw for the eagles, although there is speculation that poultry farming was also a draw. Years ago, poultry farmers could dispose of dead birds on the land. Though this is now illegal, some believe that the area has imprinted on the bald eagles that return each year.
During Eagle Days, this park is a popular place for bald eagle enthusiasts and the hosts of the event to set up scopes.
In our experience, people are friendly and helpful. They are excited for you to see the eagles, so they help point them out to you until you get the hang of it.
This is what the bald eagles look like from this Moses Eagle Park.
You can go over by the river to get a closer look. I’ll talk more about that in a moment.
How to See the Bald Eagles When It Isn’t Eagle Days
Of course, the eagles are here whether Eagle Days is happening or not. Last winter, we picked a Saturday and drove over to see if we could get a glimpse. We weren’t the only ones there, but it wasn’t as busy as when the festival is happening. And there aren’t helpful people around with scopes. Still, we decided to see what we could see. We brought binoculars and our Nikon D3400 DSLR camera. We popped on the largest lens we have. a AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm. As you’ll see, it did okay. But we met some people with really big lenses. I’m sure they had amazing shots!
We drove over from Joplin, and before you even get to Stella, you’ll start seeing eagles flying in the sky.
We headed straight to South Ozark Street since that’s where we spotted bald eagles previously. Then, we drove up to the creek where we could see eagles in the trees. With the help of our camera and binoculars, we were able to get some great views.
The bald eagles are so majestic.
We spent a couple of hours just watching the eagles.
We drove the area a bit, just to see what else was around, and stumbled upon these deer in the meadow. You never know what you’ll see when you are exploring.
As you can see, whether Eagle Days is happening or not, you can have a great time checking out the bald eagles in Stella, Missouri, in January. The festival is fun, especially for kids, but the real draw is the bald eagles. It’s definitely worth making a visit to Stella. So, when you’re wondering what to do in January, head to Stella!
Other things to do in Missouri: