Bald eagles are the main attraction during Eagle Days at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City. But visitors also see abundant waterfowl including the large and beautiful white trumpeter swans. Photos by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation
Migrating waterfowl and eagles are back in northwest Missouri, and late autumn is a good time to watch them at wetlands. For an interpretive view, the 42nd annual Eagle Days event with staffed education stations on the auto tour will be held Saturday, December 4, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City. An event brochure will also be provided to visitors taking the self-guided auto tour on Sunday, December 5.
Eagle Days is offered by a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Programs have been modified for safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic and precautions such as physical distancing will be followed. This will be an outdoor event only. This visitor center will be closed. There will be no food concessions, indoor exhibits, or bus tours. Live eagle shows will be virtual and held earlier in the week.
However, the hiking trails, auto tour route, and restrooms will be open. Most importantly, ducks, geese, trumpeter swans, and bald eagles will be using the refuge wetlands. The driving tour route circles past the wetlands. A chance to see eagles, eagle nests, and various types of waterfowl mingling in the marshes are the prime attraction. Wildlife is often close to the road and highly visible, but cameras and binoculars are useful, too.
Spotting scopes will be set up at key points along the tour route on December 4 for visitors to spot wildlife far out on the marshes. Interpretive stations along the tour route will include displays about mammals, bald eagles, snow geese and other waterfowl, duck calling and waterfowl hunting, and wetland management. Friends of Loess Bluffs and other conservation partners will have outreach tables.
Also, an MDC station will help visitors who are using the Agents of Discovery, a gaming app that helps people connect with nature. MDC encourages kids and adults to check out this free mobile gaming app and its focus on nature. MDC is partnering with the Agents of Discovery app to help the public explore natural areas around the state. Users can discover nature by completing “missions,” that help them learn about Missouri’s forests, fish, and wildlife. The gaming app must be loaded on digital devices before visitors arrive at the event.
Live eagle shows will be presented online with virtual programs from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30, and from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, December 3. Staff from the Dickerson Park Zoo at Springfield staff will host this program. They will talk about eagle biology and their role in ecology. On display will be captive eagles that were rehabilitated from injuries. This program is open to all ages. Registration is required. To register for the November 30 program, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZtX. To register for the December 3 program, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZtB.
For more information about the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zt2. To learn more about eagles and other Eagle Days events in Missouri, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zt6.