Otter Slough Conservation Area

Established to protect wetland habitat on the Mississippi River floodplain, Otter Slough Conservation Area covers almost 4900 acres in southeast Missouri. In early April, waterfowl migration remains in full force and a wide variety of ducks stop to rest and feed on the shallow lakes and flooded fields; Otter Lake, at the north end of the preserve, is a cypress-tupelo swamp that is especially attractive to wood ducks, hooded mergansers, double-crested cormorants and migrant ospreys.

As the month progresses, the waterfowl diminish and waves of migrant shorebirds arrive at the preserve, attracted to the seasonal pools, sloughs, wet fields and adjacent rice paddies; joining the usual species are less common visitors such as American avocets and black-necked stilts. Bitterns and rails are attracted to marshy areas and a wide variety of wetland songbirds nest in the cattails and riparian woods. Toward the end of April, Otter Slough is an excellent site to observe migrant warblers, flycatchers and vireos, which gather in the buggy woodlands along Otter Lake.

To reach Otter Slough Conservation Area, take exit 52 from I-55 and head west on county routes P, W, Z and U, passing through Kewanee and Bernie. Turn north on route H and drive 4.4 miles to the entry road, on your left, off route ZZ. As always, birding will be best in the morning and late daylight hours.