The 11 Best Places and Times to See Bald Eagles in Missouri

MO Eagles
© Alexas_Fotos from pixabay and sketchify/ via

Written by Rebecca Mathews

Published: December 4, 2023

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Wintertime Missouri is home to one of the United States‘ largest bald eagle populations, who migrate there to escape Canada’s, and the Great Lakes, frozen waters. Missouri is a bald eagle hotspot due to its huge rivers, expansive lakes, and tall tree filled wetland areas, both essential bald eagle habitats. Let’s discover the 11 best places and times to see bald eagles in Missouri this year.

Best Time To See Bald Eagles In Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri with winter snow

The best time to see bald eagles in Missouri is December to February.

© Raney

October to February is the best time to see bald eagles in Missouri, but late December to early February is when they’re most abundant, due to thousands migrating from Canada and the Great Lakes. Mid-winter is when males and females meet to lay eggs and raise chicks in sky-scraping tree tops. This is the easiest time to spot bald eagles because their hunting time increases to provide chicks with food.

Best Places to See Bald Eagles in Missouri

Bald eagles build their nests in immense trees near water sources where they hunt fish and forage carrion. Eagle pairs often reclaim an old nest, but newbies build their own, or they resurrect an abandoned one. Many of Missouri’s lakes, marshes, rivers, and wetlands host bald eagles in winter if the nearby trees are tall enough.

Here are some of the best places to see Missouri’s bald eagles.

1.     Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area

Birds in the Missouri River flood zone

Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is one of the best place to see bald eagles in Missouri.


The name gives it away as one of the best places to see bald eagles! Off Route K, 10 miles southwest of Columbia 4,431-acre Eagles Bluff Conservation Area is a haven for bald eagles. The Missouri River, Perche Creek, and 17 shallow wetland pools provide them with fish.

Drees warmly, park on Warren School Road, and walk across to the park’s epic overlook.

2.     Lake of The Ozarks

Bagnell Dam Strip and Bagnell Dam

Bagnell Dam access at Lake of the Ozarks is a popular bald eagle migration spot.

©Kaleb Tallmage/

Lake of the Ozarks is a reservoir in mid-state Missouri. It holds back the Osage River and hundreds of bald eagles nest and hunt for reservoir fish from October to March. The best spot is Bagnell Dam Access.

3.     Clarksville Lock and Dam 24

Bald Eagle Fishing

Bald eagles pick up stunned fish from Lock and Dam 24 churning waters.

©Harry Collins Photography/

A viewing platform at Clarksville’s Lock and Dam 24 provides a great view of hunting bald eagles. This spot is particularly good because the dam creates ice-free churning water that confuses fish and allows bald eagles to simply pick them up.

Have a winter picnic here on the viewing area’s tables, but dress warmly!

4.     Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

Birds flying through the air in a Missouri refuge

Bald eagles use Mingo National Wildlife Refuge to raise their chicks from December to January.

©Brandon B/

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge was established for migratory waterfowl, and bald eagles take full advantage of its lofty bald cypress trees and fish-packed waters.

This huge 21,592-acre site is actually an abandoned channel of the Mississippi River. It’s a wintering ground for bald eagles with plenty of lookout sites and picnic tables to make visitors more comfortable. If you’re not sure where to spot them and need help, the visitor center on Highway 51, is packed with bald eagle information.

5.     St Louis, Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (River Dam 27)

Chain of Rocks Bridge

The Chain of Rocks Bridge is a famous bald eagle spotting ground.

©nick clephane/iStock via Getty Images

To the south of Chain of Rocks Bridge, rapids churn up the water making it easy for bald eagles to hook stunned fish from its icy current. This bridge crosses the mighty Mississippi River, connecting St. Louis County, Missouri with Madison County, Illinois.

An annual eagle viewing day takes place here. The World Bird Sanctuary gives talks on bald eagles with spotting scopes and a full-size replica of a bald eagle’s nest. This is a good spot to bring small children who might get quickly fed up with watching distant bald eagles.

6.     Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area

Pair of Bald Eagles Perched in a Bare Tree Chatter

Bald eagles pair up and nest in tall trees over winter. Riverlands is a safe refuge for this threatened bird.


The panoramic view of bald eagles nesting and hunting is unparalleled at Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area.

Head to 301 Riverlands Way, West Alton, MO 63386, and park in the designated area. Bald eagles live there all year round, but the best chance to spot them is during winter. Riverlands provide a high-powered spotting scope in the Audubon Center to enhance bald eagle views.

7.     Schell – Osage Conservation Area

Bald eagle, Mount Loretto unique area, Staten Island ny

Bald eagles perch in treetops and scan the waters for fish before swooping down.

©Dorothy matula/

Schell-Osage Conservation Area is an 8,634-acre wildlife paradise that bald eagles migrate to every winter. So many eagles nest and hunt here that the rangers open for public “Eagle Days”

It’s north of El Dorado Springs with parking and a visitor center on hand to help out. Eagles are spotted throughout the conservation area, and nest in its tall trees, especially cypresses, which were bald eagles’ tree of choice before Missouri’s cypress swamps were cleared and nearly caused their extinction.

8.     Roaring River State Park

Bald Eagles attending their nest along the shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Bald eagles raise their chicks over winter in Roaring River State Park, Missouri.

©RLS Photo/

Near Cassville, Roaring River State Park offers bald eagles spotting in winter, plus a movie and themed activities about this magnificent bird. Eagles soar down the Mississippi River fishing and searching out carrion.

This park is set in a deep and narrow valley in the southwest Ozark Hills. It’s stocked with rainbow trout that are popular with anglers and bald eagles alike! Hiking trails, picnic tables, and a nature center are all on hand to improve the day out.

9.     Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge

American bald eagle with wings spread and perched on branch against background of Alaskan Kenai region shoreline along Cook Inlet

Missouri’s Silver Lake is full of large fish that bald eagles prey on.


One of the best places to see bald eagles in Missouri is Sumner’s Swan Lake National Wildlife Reserve where bald eagles arrive each winter falling migrating waterfowl.

Built in 1937, this refuge is popular with bald eagles because it houses many lofty trees and 3,050 acre Silver Lake, which is packed with large fish like bass and catfish species. A perfect hunting ground for this large and powerful bird.

10. Smithville Lake

Smithville Lake Missouri

Smithville Lake in Missouri overwinters bald eagles that fish from its thawed edges.

© Kraft

North of Kansas City is Smithville Lake, a top spot for bald eagle viewing in winter. Majestic bald eagles soar over the hiking trails as they glide between the fish-packed reservoir and their chicks in tall tree tops. Even though Smithville Lake freezes in winter, bald eagles patrol its thawed edges.

Smithville Lake Eagle Days are popular with families. Hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation in January, officials help visitors spot bald eagles with scopes and their local knowledge. Lake edge treetops are one of the most frequented areas.

11. Truman Lake

Truman Reservoir  Missouri

Truman Reservoir, also known as Truman Lake, attracts bald eagles over winter.


West of Warsaw is Truman Lake, a bald eagle migration hot spot and epic place to spot this threatened bird. Why? The reservoir is full of largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and many catfish species!

Truman Lake is 56,000 acres but because it’s a flood control lake it increases to a major 200,000 acres and spills into four counties. It’s surrounded by 259 square miles of wild space all packed with hiking trails, benches, and epic wildlife encounters. Look for bald eagles perched in the tallest trees, and witness their spectacular fishing skills as they skim the lake’s surface.

Find Truman Lake at 15968 Truman Dam Access Road, Warsaw. MOS 65355, but wrap up warmly because it’s a chilly place in December and January when the highest numbers of bald eagles show up.


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About the Author

Rebecca is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on plants and geography. Rebecca has been writing and researching the environment for over 10 years and holds a Master’s Degree from Reading University in Archaeology, which she earned in 2005. A resident of England’s south coast, Rebecca enjoys rehabilitating injured wildlife and visiting Greek islands to support the stray cat population.

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