Wintry gusts rolling through the great Mississippi River Valley bring a magnificent opportunity to witness the majesty of Bald Eagles in the Great Rivers Country region. Approximately 2,000 eagles migrate to the region from December through March, making this region of Illinois home to the second largest population of Bald Eagles in the entire continental United States.
One of the prime locations to catch the birds soaring overhead is Grafton, a river town located along the bluffs of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The sheer sense of Grafton’s pride for its most famous inhabitants is evident on the signs proudly touting the town, “Home of Wintering Bald Eagles.”
Every winter, curious visitors and professional eagle watchers flock to the Grafton riverfront and nearby Pere Marquette State Park to catch a glimpse of the “baseballs,” the nickname given to eagles because of their white head. The majestic eagles flying overhead against the wintry scenic river backdrop is a breathtaking site not to be missed.
If you are looking to enjoy Bald Eagle watching with an expert, Scott Insringhausen will take you on journey to prime spotting locations on special Bald Eagle Days at Pere Marquette. Learn how to distinguish between immature and mature Bald Eagles, what the birds eat, why they spend their winter months in the area and more. After learning the ins and outs, Scott will guide you on a scenic eagle watching drive. Make sure to reserve your spot, dress for the weather and have a full tank of gas!
Warm up after your eagle watching experience in downtown Grafton. The charming Main Street has homemade fudge shops, Native American wares at local shops and loads of antique stores. Unwind after the day at a local winery and let your worries melt away with a stay at a quaint bed and breakfast.
With beautiful eagle watching, a charming downtown, wineries and bed and breakfasts, Grafton is a prime spot for a winter getaway. Plan your trip today and be sure to tell us all about it when you get back!
–The Illinois Office of Tourism