LeClaire will soar on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 21-22, 2023 in its inaugural Eagle Festival sponsored by the Riverboat Twilight.

This free, educational event invites guests to witness majestic bald eagles in their natural habitat as they fly high above the Mississippi River, according to a Friday release.

Iowa-based nature photographer Ty Smedes (photo above) will give a free presentation on bald eagles at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.

The LeClaire Eagle Festival is a celebration of the incredible, natural beauty of our river town as well as the opportunity to learn about these amazing birds,” said LeClaire Tourism Manager Cindy Bruhn. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both nature enthusiasts and those who have never seen these incredible animals in the wild, as well as the scenic vistas they call home.”

Bald eagles are typically found in LeClaire from December to March. The Eagle Festival will provide visitors with an unparalleled glimpse of how these birds of prey live in the wild while providing an up-close view of the mighty Mississippi River, the release said.

The two-day eagle extravaganza begins Saturday, Jan. 21, as Historic Cody Road hosts ice sculptor Rob Storm, who will create breathtaking works of art from 1-4 p.m. for display at local businesses. On Sunday, Jan. 22, the Celebration Center (229 N. Cody Road in LeClaire) will host multiple eagle presentations from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. along with a hot cocoa bar sponsored by Blackhawk Bank & Trust, and there will be more ice sculpting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other events on Sunday include:

  • 11 a.m. — Internationally acclaimed author and storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis will present a story about bald eagles, bringing along a spotting scope and books for sale.
  • Noon and 2 p.m. — St. Louis-based World Bird Sanctuary will host two presentations with live eagles. The World Bird Sanctuary has treated more than 21,000 injured birds and has helped organize conservation efforts on four continents.
  • 1 p.m. — Photographer Ty Smedes will give a lecture that offers an often-unseen look at the lives of Iowa’s bald eagle population, from fishing to building nests and much more. Find out how researchers track eagles’ movements and where the eagles come from. Second editions of Smedes’ book, “The Return of Iowa’s Bald Eagles,” will be available for sale and can be signed by the author, who’s based in Urbandale, Iowa.
  • 3 p.m. — Representatives from Living Lands & Waters will talk about the importance of the protection and preservation of the environment along the Mississippi River and how humans can help create a more hospitable habitat for bald eagles and other migratory birds.

The LeClaire Community Library and LeClaire Parks & Recreation also will be on hand with organized activities for children.

For more information, visit the festival website.