By Larry Archer
As waterfowl and other spring migratory birds begin heading north, it’s a good time for birders to be heading south. And Coon Island Conservation Area (CA) is about as far south as one can get and still be in Missouri.
Located south of Poplar Bluff just north of the Arkansas state line, this 3,223-acre combination of wetlands and bottomland hardwoods is an early stop on the way north for many migratory species, said Coon Island CA Manager Luke Wehmhoff.
“It depends on when in March you’re here, you may still have snow geese around and you may still have pintails around,” Wehmhoff said. “Toward the end of the month, you’re getting into blue-wing teals and shovelers.”
The wetlands — and the waterfowl they attract — aren’t the only draw for birders.
“It’s a pretty big chunk of bottomland hardwood habitat — one of the bigger chunks in southern Butler County — so the Neotropical migrants may start filtering through, too,” he said.
Anglers, using either rod and reel or bow, can take advantage of the Black River and its backwaters, Wehmhoff said.
“It’s a real common time of year for it to be flooding,” he said. “So, some people may bowfish in the flood waters down there.”
“They may see swamp rabbits if they rattle some bushes in some of the bottomland habitats, so it’s kind of neat that you can see swamp rabbits as opposed to just cottontails.”
—Coon Island CA Manager Luke Wehmhoff
Coon Island Conservation Area consists of 3,223 acres in Butler County. From Poplar Bluff, take Highway 53 south, then Route HHsouth 8 miles, then County Road 244 east 1 mile.
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