More Eagles, Visitors in the QCA - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

More Eagles, Visitors in the QCA

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This weekend, a Quad Cities tradition is back. Bald Eagle Days are running now through Sunday at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island.

But, these days, the big attraction is the sheer number of eagles in our area.

"We are hearing reports of 250, 300, 400, 500 eagles congregating in just a short section of the Mississippi River," said Joe Taylor, President and CEO of the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau.

They're making for an economic boost for the QCA.

All of the extra eagles are bringing a lot of extra people to town to get a look.

"We field a lot of calls during the week wanting to know what our numbers are looking like, and if we can see them, if they come, can we guarantee we see them," said Mike McKean, a park ranger with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Of course, there's no way to guarantee eagle sightings, but with the number of eagles in our area these days, chances are especially good.

"This is the best year that I've seen it," McKean said, "In our area, Lock and Dam 15, we've probably seen four or five times the numbers that we usually see."

And that's attracting more visitors than usual to see the eagles for themselves.

"It's ordinary to have bald eagles in the Quad Cities during the winter, it is extraordinary to have them in the numbers that they are this year," Taylor said.

Whether people are lining the shores of the river to watch the birds in flight or snapping photos inside the Expo Center during Bald Eagle Days, more tourists in town means more tourism dollars for our local businesses.

"I think visitors will stay longer. That means they're going to use more hotel rooms, eat more meals in restaurants, do more shopping, go to more attractions," Taylor said.

And, he said, all of that money that they're spending while they're here adds up to a big impact in our local economy.

"It's jobs, it's income for our residents and then governments receive the benefit of taxes," Taylor explained.

But, the eagles likely won't be here in these numbers for long.

They were driven down river into the QCA by the recent cold snap, to find open water to fish and feed.

"This is peak time for eagle watching," McKean said.

That said, even when the ice melts, some eagles should be sticking around for the next several weeks at least.

You can learn more about bald eagle watching in the QCA and Bald Eagle Days at the Expo Center at visitquadcities.com.