Nature Viewing Guide
of the Meadville junction. Off Highway 36 in Linn County near Swan Lake.
Fountain Grove Conservation Area is a paradise for water-loving birds and mammals. During a winter day, look for bald eagles perching in large trees around open water. In the spring and fall you can see as many as 1,500 white pelicans as they rest on their migration route, as well as ducks. Fall and winter are the best times to get a good look at snow and Canada geese. Spring and summer look for warblers and herons along the Grand River. At dusk, catch a glimpse of an otter or beaver in the many pools and lakes, or perhaps spot a coyote as it searches the fields for mice and rabbits. Wildlife viewing can be done on foot along the trails or by car.
Three Creeks Conservation Area
Five miles south of Columbia on Highway 63 and 1.75 miles west on Deer Park Road in Boone County.
Hike along the limestone ridges and bluffs to see colorful hardwoods in mid-October and turkey vultures as they congregate in the area in March. The forests and grasslands harbor a variety of songbirds year-round. Escape into the dark world of Hunter's Cave to see little brown and pipistrelle bats, cave salamanders and cave crickets. The cave is closed from April 1 to Oct. 31 to protect the wildlife.
Nature viewing tips
- Study field guides and other books before you head out. The more you know about the habits and habitats of the plants and animals you want to observe, the easier it will be to find them.
- Adjust your schedule to the animals or plants you want to watch. Beaver work mostly at night, and four-o'clocks bloom only in the afternoon, but you have to get up pretty early to hear the predawn chorus of tree swallows, vireos and warblers.
- Don't try to get too close to the animals. Stay back and enjoy watching them through a pair of binoculars as they go about their normal routine. It's okay to sneak up real close to an elusive lady-slipper orchid, just don't step on it!
- Be like Daniel Boone - learn to read the signs the animals leave behind. Sometimes it's just as much fun to find an impression in a grassy field where a deer has bedded down as to see the animal itself.
- Write down what you have seen. Serious birders keep a list of all the birds they have seen in their lifetime. You might want to keep a journal of all the plants and animals you find in a particular area, or perhaps be the first on your block to have personally discovered all 303 species of Missouri spiders.
Ready for more?
Send for your copy of the Nature Viewing Guide, which lists 101 of Missouri's most spectacular nature viewing sites. The easy-to-read format lets you know at a glance what awaits you at each area - everything from restroom availability to what animals you can see. Color photographs give you a preview of some of Missouri's most interesting plants and animals. To order, send $3.50, plus $2 for shipping and handling (Missouri residents should add 22 cents for sales tax) to: Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City 65102-0180.