Migration Season at Eagle Bluffs

Though summer heat still envelops Central Missouri, there are signs of a seasonal shift at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.  On my visit to the floodplain yesterday, summer songbirds were still evident in the woodlands and the greenery, though fading, was not yet tinged by the hues of autumn.  Across the northern half of the preserve, little change was evident and wildlife was rather sparse; turkey vultures soared above the grasslands, a few great blue herons stalked the shallows and a lone bald eagle perched atop a wood duck box.

However, near the southern tip of the refuge, meandering pools and channels, flanked by mudflats, had attracted large flocks of great egrets and migrant shorebirds, soon to depart for southern climes; green herons fished along the shorelines and a small group of double-crested cormorants lounged on a sandbar.  Joining these migrants and summer residents were numerous killdeer, a large number of great blue herons, Canada geese, a few wood duck families, small flocks of mallards and a pair of belted kingfishers.

This seasonal shift will intensify in the coming weeks as flocks of blue-winged teal arrive on the floodplain, joined by an increasing number of cormorants and American white pelicans.  Coot, duck and grebe migrations will build through October and, as autumn chill deepens in November, the spectacle of migrant snow geese will grace the Missouri Valley.