PEORIA HEIGHTS- You see them every time you pay with cash and it's our country's national symbol, but how often do you actually see a bald eagle up close?
About 100 people crammed into a room at Forest Park Nature Center to catch an up close look at Mikitcha, a nearly 10 pound bald eagle.
"It's just a thrill when you get to work with a wild bird and as close as I am to those when they're on the glove," said Joe Hand, Mikitcha's handler at Wildlife Prairie State Park.
Hand said while it doesn't happen as much any more, people still like to hunt the majestic birds. That's why he said he likes to team up with his feathered friend to raise awareness.
"We've had eagles come into the park when we're doing rehab on eagles several years ago that were shot in the local area, so it does happen even though it's a federal offense," Hand said.
After learning about eagles and how hundreds of them spend winter in the Illinois river valley, people went down to the river to try and catch a glimpse. People strained their eyes through binoculars, standing on the river's banks.
"We haven't seen any, but I didn't know we had any around our area," said Mandy Simmons, who took her two young boys on the expedition.
"Two eagles soaring!" someone finally said.
They were off in the distance, but they were there, flying high.
"It's awesome, the kids are excited to see it and it's a way we can teach them about conserving and taking care of what we have," Simmons said.
Hand said one of the bald eagle's favorite is the Asian carp, so these birds might stick around for a while.
Meet The Team
Take a moment to meet WMBD 31's team. Click here to learn more about the people who are "Taking Action for You!"