Every year the Rock Island Arsenal offers a family-friendly event that is free to the public. The Clock Tower and Eagle Watch Tours are coming up in mid-January. Local 4’s Emily Scarlett gives us a bird’s-eye view of where eagles are known to make an annual appearance, Inside the Gates.
Mike McKean is a Park Ranger with the Mississippi River Visitors Center. He tells Local 4 News, “Sometimes people are surprised like, ‘wait, you have bald eagles here? Ya, we sure do. They migrate down to us.”
It is not everyday that you get the chance to see multiple bald eagles.
“We have bald eagles that come into the area, usually in January, as it’s typically our coldest time of the year,” says McKean.
While most birds seek warmth in the winter months, bald eagles migrate here from Canada to find water that is not completely frozen over.
McKean says, “Around the dams, because of the turbulence that’s created by the water going through, pretty much keeps the water below open all the time. So, it creates areas where eagles can feed from.”
As part of the tour, you also learn about the historic Clock Tower. In fact, you get to climb all the way to the top.
Every week, someone has the responsibility of winding the clock. It’s been that way from the beginning and the writing in on the wall, literally. A note written on the wall from 1867 is from a Mr. Pratt documenting his time working on the clock.
Of course, for may the tours are all about the birds.
“It’s kind of good to have a come back story. They were on the endangered species list for a long time. They were taken off in 2007,” says McKean.
So, get ready to see the eagles in action right here in the Quad Cities.
“You think of them being in other places: Alaska, Canada. You don’t always think of them being in the Midwest, in Iowa and Illinois.”
Tours begin Saturday, January 14 and are free to the public.