Outdoor Recreation

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jan 2009

Scout it Out

Nodaway Valley

Name: Nodaway Valley Conservation Area

Location: Holt and Andrew counties, north of St. Joseph.

For more information: visit our online atlas, keyword "Nodaway".

Waterfowl hunters and watchers will find Nodaway Valley Conservation Area, located north of St. Joseph, a great place to get their feet wet. More than half of this 3,813-acre area is composed of wetlands. About 2,000 acres of shallow wetland habitat and more than 400 acres of bottomland forest were restored in a massive project completed in 2002 with the help of conservation partners. The area, which is bisected by a 4.4-mile stretch of the Nodaway River, draws waterfowl like a magnet.

During the waterfowl season, portions of the area are designated as a Waterfowl Hunting Zone, which means that they are open only to registered waterfowl hunters. A Refuge Area is closed to all uses from Oct. 15 through Jan. 15, and a No Hunting Zone is closed to all hunting throughout the year. However, this area is open to nature viewing and other uses from the close of the North Zone Duck Season to Oct. 14. The areas are posted and are shown on the area map. White and snow goose hunters taking advantage of the Light Goose Conservation Order may set up in areas open to hunting without registering.

Light Goose Hunting

This season is an exciting bargain for waterfowlers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has implemented a Light Goose Conservation

Order for the 11th consecutive year. The order, which allows a long hunting period, no bag limits and liberalized hunting methods, is designed to help reduce populations of snow geese and white geese. These species’ numbers have multiplied to the point that the birds are causing ecological damage to portions of fragile arctic tundra.

The Conservation Order for light geese will be in effect from Jan. 31 through April 30. A Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit ($6 for both residents and nonresidents) is the only permit required to hunt during this conservation order.

For in-season snow goose hunting reports, explore the links listed below.

Light goose hunting can be the most exciting event of your life. You might be surrounded by thousands of noisy, feeding birds at one time, and they’ll block out the sky when they take flight. You could experience unforgettable wingshooting. For a description of the action, read Hunting the Wind in the October 1997 Conservationist, online. You can find a proven recipe for cooking snow geese at the link listed below.

Feathered Fascination


It’s OK to have a favorite bird. Mine has always been the chickadee. I’ve watched them from the kitchen window and from a treestand, where they seemed almost as interested in me as I was in them. They like wooded areas, and they’re a plucky little bird that will flit to a nearby limb to give you a sidelong appraising look.

We have two species of chickadees in Missouri and it’s hard to tell them apart. Both the black-capped (Poecile atricapillus) and the Carolina (Poecile carolinensis) chickadees have a black cap and bib and white cheeks. Carolina chickadees are slightly smaller than black-caps and have more, or at least some, white visible in their wings. You are more likely to see Carolinas in the Ozark region and black-cappeds everywhere else.

Both have an entertaining call—chick-a-dee-dee-dee. However, the Carolina chickadee’s call is higher pitched and more rapid. Their whistled songs also differ. Black-caps have a two- or three-note whistle—fee-bee or fee-bee-ee—while Carolina chickadees whistle a four-note fee-bee-fee-bay.

Chickadees are year-round residents of Missouri and often beat migrating wrens to birdhouses suitable to both species. They are territorial during their breeding season, but form flocks in winter. They often frequent birdfeeders and will cache or hide some of the seeds to eat later.

Feed Hungry Birds

Backyard snack bars keep birds in good shape.

Birdfeeding is not a bad hobby for you or the birds. It’s easy to get started, inexpensive to maintain and provides you with an infinite variety of interesting behavior to study or simply observe. The birds, on the other hand, benefit greatly from having a ready supply of vittles at a time when natural food sources are difficult to obtain.

There are no rules to birdfeeding, but it is better to place feeders where predators, such as house cats or hawks, won’t find the visitors easy prey. It’s nicer for the birds, too, if there is nearby cover to hide in or to block the cold wind.

Choose a location where you can observe the birds from a comfortable place inside your house. Start with a platform feeder and, perhaps, a finch feeder. Add different foods and feeders as you become a more sophisticated birdwatcher. Don’t worry if the birds don’t come right away. They’ll eventually find your food and put your feeders on their normal route.

Stock your feeder regularly to keep the birds coming. Although birds can survive winter on natural food, backyard feeders likely reduce bird mortality during ice storms and severe weather.

Bald Eagle Watching

Visit these prime spots for viewing our national symbol.

Eagle Days are fun and exciting events that let you learn about and see our national symbol in the wild. You can find out about Eagle Days adventures by going online.

If you prefer to strike out on your own, however, simply visit the same locations on your own schedule. Early in the morning is the best time to see eagles flying and fishing. Later in the day, they’ll be perched in large trees along the water’s edge. The lack of foliage in winter allows you to spot them easily. Bring binoculars or a scope and dress warmly. This is cold birdwatching.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler