Tips for Eagle Watching in Branson, a Natural Attraction
Most Americans know that the Bald Eagle is the national emblem of the United States, but how many citizens can identify a bald eagle in flight, spot its nest, or describe its diet? The best way to learn such facts is to observe the bald eagle firsthand, and between November and March each year, Branson turns into a living classroom for birdwatchers, nature enthusiasts and eagle lovers. During the winter, myriads of Bald Eagles return with their mates as part of their yearly migratory pattern. To the delight of locals and visitors alike, Bald Eagles are easy to spot and fun to watch in and around the lakes and rivers of Branson.
The best locations for eagle watching near Branson are Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake. Below Table Rock Dam lies Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, another prime eagle viewing spot. Eagles are seen from Table Rock Lake all the way to Beaver Dam. Eagles are also often spotted near the downtown riverfront and at resorts and Corps of Engineers campgrounds near Branson. Other nearby, ideal eagle-spotting locations include Rockaway Beach, Kimberling City, Cape Fair, Lampe, Baxter, Shell Knob and the James River in Galena, Missouri.
Tips for eagle watching:
- For the best eagle experience, watchers should dress warmly and bring cameras and binoculars.
- With so many types of birds in the area, it might seem daunting at first to identify the Bald Eagle. Aside from the notorious and conspicuous white head feathers, a Bald Eagle can be identified by looking at the shape of its wings, which are broad and have many slots and the tips to aid in soaring and long distance flying.
- A Bald Eagle's nest can weigh up to two tons, and is easily spotted as a landing of twigs in treetops or on bluff ledges.
Other birds to look for :
- Hawks: Red-tailed, Sharp-skinned, Harris,' Cooper's
- Owls: Barn, Great-horned, Snowy, Barred, Screech
- Vultures: Turkey, Black
- Falcons: Peregrine, American kestrel
- Golden Eagle
Once commonly sighted in the United States and Canada, the Bald Eagle is now a fully protected species, making it illegal to even possess a single Bald Eagle feather (unless by an American Indian). Because of harmful pollutants and pesticides, Bald Eagle populations have dwindled. However, in Branson during the winter, visitors are thrilled to see in person the bird that has been our nation's emblem for over 220 years.
- The Bald Eagle was adopted as the nation's emblem in 1782 and now graces every dollar bill that is printed. It is the nation's most famous bird.
- Bald Eagles dine mainly on fish, but also on rodents, small mammals and carrion.
- Bald Eagles' flying speeds reach 20-40 miles per hour and diving speeds can exceed 100 miles per hour.
- Bald Eagles mate for life and return to the same nest every year.
- An adult Bald Eagle protects its young during a storm by outstretching its wings over them.