Duck Clouds at Eagle Bluffs

As the tide of spring begins to accelerate, the number and variety of waterfowl at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, on the Missouri River floodplain, is dramatically increasing.  This morning, massive clouds of ducks filled the air while even larger flocks gathered on the fields, lakes, ponds and sloughs.

Mallards and northern pintails accounted for at least 90% of the duck population, joined by smaller numbers of American wigeon, gadwalls, northern shovelers, American coot, buffleheads, ring-necked ducks and common and hooded mergansers.  As usual, Canada geese were present in large numbers now mingling with flocks of greater white-fronted geese; while a flock of snow geese passed overhead, none were observed on the ground (except for the remains of one hapless migrant, torn apart by an eagle or coyote).  Other sightings included seven sandhill cranes, numerous great blue herons, a half dozen bald eagles and a small flock of American white pelicans.

This morning's spectacle will only increase over the next few weeks, peaking from late March into mid April.  By then, migrant shorebirds will join the waterfowl and the early summer songbirds will grace the riparian woodlands.  It's surely a fabulous time of year for birders in America's Heartland.