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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Annual Stella event draws crowd of birdwatchers

  • STELLA — The weather was mild and the eagles were out Saturday, as crowds of visitors flocked to Stella for the fourth annual Eagle Day event.
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  • STELLA — The weather was mild and the eagles were out Saturday, as crowds of visitors flocked to Stella for the fourth annual Eagle Day event.
    From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Stella's Veterans Memorial Park was filled with booths offering information about eagles, children's activities and plenty of birdwatchers.
    The event was held in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Chert Glades Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists.
    Jeff Cantrell, conservation outreach and education with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said in the past week there have been an estimated 120 eagles around Stella.
    Halfway through Saturday's event, more than 200 people had signed the attendance book and at least 25 eagles had been spotted, while more spectators were continuing to show up.
    Cantrell said for those from the Department of Conservation, events like Saturday's are a way to get residents interested in the outdoors.
    "Our focus is to get families out and spend time outdoors enjoying nature and the hook we're
    From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Stella's Veterans Memorial Park was filled with booths offering information about eagles, children's activities and plenty of birdwatchers.
    The event was held in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Chert Glades Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists.
    Jeff Cantrell, conservation outreach and education with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said in the past week there have been an estimated 120 eagles around Stella.
    Halfway through Saturday's event, more than 200 people had signed the attendance book and at least 25 eagles had been spotted, while more spectators were continuing to show up.
    Cantrell said for those from the Department of Conservation, events like Saturday's are a way to get residents interested in the outdoors.
    "Our focus is to get families out and spend time outdoors enjoying nature and the hook we're using is bald eagles," Cantrell said. "And so we're hoping, from that, then maybe they're more likely to bring their family again next weekend and drive the roads and so on. And then, maybe that leads to an interest in birds or wildlife in general."
    While there were plenty of eagles flying overhead, Cantrell said the number is down from last year.
    "With the weather being so mild, we actually have less eagles this year than we did last year," Cantrell said. "When it's pretty harsh up north, it pushes more eagles down."
    Historically, Missouri is in the top two of the lower 48 states with the highest winter eagle population, coming in second only to Washington.
    "This area between Exeter and Neosho is bordered by good rivers, you've got Shoal Creek, Elk River, Big Sugar and so on, so the open waters is a good draw," Cantrell said.
    Page 2 of 2 - While Cantrell said similar eagle viewing events are held across the state, Saturday's event in Stella drew spectators from far beyond the small Newton County community.
    Shelly Bottorff, of Galena, Kan. and her daughter, Kenlee, attended the event for the first time on Saturday.
    Shelly said she had learned about the event on television and thought it could be an educational outing.
    "I've always liked eagles and thought it would be a good learning experience for the kids," Shelly Bottorff said. "I haven't seen very many in their natural habitat so I thought it would be neat to see. We're hopeful to see some and get some good pictures."
    The Bottorffs, along with several other spectators, lined the side of A Highway on Saturday, as they watched through binoculars for eagles flying above.
    "I think it'd be really neat to see one," Kenlee Bottorff said.
    Cantrell said the Eagle Day event started unofficially six years ago, and has been an organized effort run by volunteers for the last four years.
    Last year's event drew an estimated 1,200 people.

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