Saturday, May 5, 2018

Global Big Day at Eagle Bluffs

On this annual Global Big Day, sponsored by eBird, I had every reason to choose Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area for my personal bird count.  This refuge, on the Missouri River floodplain, is one of the best birding locations in Missouri; indeed, I have personally referred to it as the Ding Darling of the Midwest.

Arriving just after 7 AM, I spent three and a half hours scouring the refuge, paying more attention to the woodland areas than I often do on my regular visits.  By the time I left, I had seen 66 avian species, more than my combined Big Day counts for the past two years (which were at the Mendocino Botanic Gardens, in California, and at our Littleton farm, in Colorado).  My seasonal firsts on this sunny, warm morning included prothonotary warblers, warbling vireos, least sandpipers and dickcissels; surprisingly, the count did not include any raptors other than bald eagles and their growing eaglets.  Among the more numerous species were red-winged blackbirds, blue-winged teal, American coot, turkey vultures (I don't think of them as raptors), indigo buntings and yellow warblers.

Who knows where I'll be for the Global Big Day next spring but few refuges in the country can match the habitat diversity and easy access offered at Eagle Bluffs.  I am fortunate that it is so close to our Columbia home and remain forever grateful to those who established this magnificent preserve. No doubt, the avian residents and migrants of central Missouri share my sentiments.