Wednesday, December 2, 2015

37th annual Eagle Days at Squaw Creek

Free event highlights eagles and wetland conservation in northwest Missouri 
Mound City, Mo. – Bald eagles and waterfowl have migrated to wetlands in the Missouri River bottoms for thousands of years. It’s an ancient pageant that often includes huge snow geese flocks squawking as they arise from the marsh, ducks loafing in flotillas atop the water and eagles peering from perches in tall trees. People who enjoy nature and value conservation will celebrate the 37th annual Eagle Days at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 6.
   The refuge is near Mound City in northwest Missouri, north of St. Joseph, not far as the eagle flies from the Missouri River. Visitors will have a chance to see wild eagles along the refuge’s driving tour. But Eagle Days also provides a close-up view of captive eagles displayed by the Dickerson Park Zoo of Springfield, Mo.
    All activities are free. Eagle Days is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other public and private conservation partners.
    Eagle and waterfowl viewing is always weather dependent. Cold weather in northern states but moderate weather in Missouri that leaves marshes unfrozen tends to help the refuge attract and hold waterfowl and eagles.  Bitter cold and frozen marshes reduce bird numbers. But rare is the Eagle Days event without some watchable wetland wildlife present.
    4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. They will offer exhibits about wetlands and wildlife. Spotting scopes will be set up at key locations and staff will help visitors see eagles or watch waterfowl. A wide variety of wildlife uses Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. For example, elegant trumpeter swans often can be spotted among the waterfowl in the marshes visible from the driving tour.
MDC staff and volunteers will be at interpretive stops along the refuge driving tour from 9 a.m. to
   Dickerson Park Zoo Staff will present live eagle shows at the refuge headquarters hourly from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The zoo rehabilitates birds of prey such as eagles. Those birds with injuries too severe for them to return to the wild are used in exhibits and give visitors a close-up look at live eagles. The presentation includes interesting facts about eagles and their abilities.
   The Squaw Creek refuge is reached via Interstate 29 by taking the U.S. 159 exit west.
   For more information about Eagle Days at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, call816-271-3100, or visit http://1.usa.gov/1XoQu4m.
   MDC and partners also offer other Eagle Days events throughout Missouri.
   A new event this year is Missouri River Eagle Day 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12, at LaBenite Park in Sugar Creek, Mo. The park is on the south side of the river east of the Missouri 291 Bridge in the heart of the Kansas City metro area. The free program open to all will include live captive eagle displays, nature stations and youth activities. Also, there will be boat tours on the Missouri River to watch for eagles. Boat tour space is limited and advance registration is required, with registration beginning Dec. 1 by calling 816-228-3766.
   The 21st annual Smithville Lake Eagle Days will be Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 9 and 10. The event will also include raptor programs and guided eagle viewing areas lakeside.
  For information about these and other Eagle Days events throughout Missouri, and for eagle viewing sites throughout winter, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/events/eagledays.