Sunday I had the opportunity to volunteer as a Missouri Master Naturalist for Eagle Days held at Squaw Creek National Game Refuge. Squaw Creek comprises about 8,000 acres of which about 2,000 acres is water filled at all times and another 1 - 2,000 has water at some time. [To get this gardening related, I helped in late Spring to plant ~ 2,000 Cord Grass plants in an area that had been crops and is being converted back to prairie.] The area also has one of the largest areas of Loess hills and soil in the USA. It was built as a WPA project in the 1930s.
It is one of the largest areas for Canada Geese migration and many other birds. There are 3 permanent Bald Eagle nests on the site. One nest yesterday had eagles nesting. The overall numbers of birds has not hit the peak yet, as the weather has been so mild this Fall up north. Here are the estimates for yesterday:
Bald Eagles 40 - 50
Canada (& other) Geese 400,000
There is also a nearby lake called Big Lake about 5 miles away. The area in between is lowland mostly farm land. The entire area is called the valley area and yesterday the total Canada geese count was estimated at 1 million.
At its peak, sometime in the next 4 weeks or so, Squaw Creek itself will have a million or so geese.
Yes - it IS an awesome thing to see. And hear! From over a mile away at HQ the din of noise is something. And when an Eagle spooks the geese and a few hundred thousand get spooked and take flight, the sky is filled. They fly here and there and eventually come back.
We had 3 observation sites set up and my group agreed that we had observed 12 different Bald Eagles - one on a nest.
Neal asked about Swans. Yes Neal - they are HUGE!
About 3 times the size of a Canada Goose. Most of the swans were Trumpeter Swan and some Tundra
We also had an Eagle exhibit and a zoo brought in both a Bald and Golden eagle. It was the first time I ever saw a Golden eagle from 20 feet. Both birds were rescues as are the vast majority in captivity.
Virtually all the birds there are migratory, though the refuge has a year round population of a few hundred ducks and geese called the "gimps". These are birds that have been injured in some way and can not fly adequately. They are somewhat cared for.
I had a fun and learning time and we had thousands of visitors and guests between Sat & Sun.