STELLA — Organizers are gearing up for the annual Stella Eagle Day, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, in the village of Stella. However, good eagle viewing should be all day long.
The event gives the opportunity for visitors to see bald eagles soaring through the sky.
The event is free and open to the public. If there is inclement weather, Saturday, Feb. 2 will be the weather date.
"The main purpose is really to just give families a reason to get out and enjoy the outdoors," said Jeff Cantrell, conservation outreach with the Missouri Department of Conservation. "We are obviously featuring the bald eagle which is a great hook right there. And on the education standpoint, we are going to tie in the eagle to our good clean, quality waters of Elk River, Shoal Creek, Indian Creek and so on, so the learning aspect will be the eagle itself and its habitat."
Those who attend are advised to dress for the weather and bring binoculars. Information about bald eagles can be picked up at the veteran's park in Stella, located on Ozark Street.
"If they have binoculars, bring those, because we might have spotting scopes set up in different locations, but we will have a road map of good places for them to go and take a nice Saturday drive and look for eagles," he said. "Some spots, we may have as many as 50-90 eagles in one spot or some areas just three over here and five over here."
For a number of years, bald eagles have been seen soaring in Stella.
Explaining why Stella is such a unique place to see the eagles, Cantrell noted a couple of reasons.
"The one thing that really did it was years ago before poultry farmers were composting their chickens or turkeys that would die during the evening, they would just throw them out and feed them to the eagles," he said. "And the eagles were such low numbers that was actually a good thing to help them out at the time. They don't do that anymore, they compost those carcasses, but the eagles have imprinted to learn behavior and they have learned this is an area to come to. And now they still take advantage of some dead poultry, but they mainly take advantage of road kills, anything that has just died naturally and these rivers have not frozen over and they are fishermen by heart so they are fishing in Elk River, Indian Creek, Shoal Creek and so on. We have some that nest here, the numbers are coming back to a point where we have some year round residence eagles as well."
If the weather cooperates, organizers expect between 1,000 to 1,400 people to see the eagles.
For more information, call 629-3423.
Page 2 of 2 - Interesting facts
• Cantrell noted about the lifespan of an eagle. "A life span of 25 years is not unheard of," he said. "It takes them five years to have the full whitehead, whitetail and there is several patterns of their feathers. When you look at them, you can tell them if they are a one year old, two-year old, three year old, four year old. My favorite is the three year old, they look like they are wearing a mask, and they look just like the Lone Ranger."
• Moses Eagle founded Stella and the town was named after his granddaughter, Stella Eagle. The signs, which lead to the village, say, "Where Eagles Soar."