Eagles and trumpeter swans were plentiful for Eagle Days Dec. 2-4 at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge

News from the region
Published Date

Mound City, Mo. – Visitors to the 43rd annual Eagle Days found numerous bald eagles and thousands of waterfowl at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City. The free event kicked off on Dec. 2 with busloads of school children touring the refuge and attending the captive live eagle programs presented by the World Bird Sanctuary. Eagle shows and the driving tour with nature interpretive stops were open to the public during the Dec. 3-4 weekend. This event was hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

Loess Bluffs is a historic and nature-rich wildlife refuge with wetlands bordered by steep hills with loess prairie and woodlands, north of St. Joseph. The wetlands are a key stop along the Missouri River bottoms for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and eagles. A Nov. 28 bird survey by refuge staff counted 370 bald eagles, almost 1,700 trumpeter swans, 85,000 ducks, and 165,000 geese on the area. Eagles follow the migrating waterfowl and are often seen sitting atop muskrat houses, catching prey near shore, or perched in trees watching the wetlands. Eagles are also maintaining active nests in a few locations along the driving route.

For Eagle Days, MDC and Loess Bluffs staff set up interpretive stops along the driving tour route. They discussed wildlife in the marshes such as beaver and muskrat, pointed out the eagle nests, and set up a duck wing maze where participants use the colors on wings to identify duck species. The school event on Dec. 2 included 11 elementary schools from northwest Missouri, plus students from Kearney High School.

Migrating waterfowl and eagles can usually be found in late fall and early winter at Loess Bluffs and at MDC conservation areas. They also frequent rivers and lakes. However, when severe winter cold arrives and wetlands freeze over, the migrants fly farther south.

For information about Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/454. To learn more about migrating waterfowl in Missouri, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/4p6. For information about eagles and other places to see eagle in winter, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zt6.