Eagle Days draws crowds despite cold weather

KANSAS CITY Mo -- Despite chilly winds, hearty birds and bird watchers both turned out in good numbers for the 32nd annual Eagle Days Dec. 4-5 at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

Thousands of snow geese rafted up in the Eagle and Cattail pools, rising off the water occasionally in noisy clouds. Trumpeter swans lounged in the Pintail pool. Wild bald eagles perched on tree limbs and muskrat mounds or soared over the marshes.

“The best thing was we had birds,” said Charles Marshall, refuge spokesman. “Nobody had any problem seeing an eagle.”

Eagle Days is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

On Friday, Dec. 3, more than 600 students from 14 schools and three home-school groups visited Eagle Days. Staff from the Dickerson Park Zoo raptor rehabilitation program displayed a bald eagle and a golden eagle. Students toured the marshes where MDC staff helped them at observation points to see wild eagles through spotting scopes. MDC staffers also gave presentations on ducks and furbearers in the marsh.

The general public attended Eagle Days on Saturday and Sunday. Refuge Manager Ron Bell said almost 6,000 vehicles took the auto tour, while 3,300 went through the visitor center and 1,850 attended the captive eagle program.

Waterfowl numbers remained strong on Monday at the refuge near Mound City, Mo. The count showed 233,000 snow geese, 26,000 ducks and 64 swans, Bell said. The bald eagle count showed 50 mature eagles and 71 immature eagles.

For more information about bald eagles in Missouri go to http://xplor.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/bald-eagle, and for information on the refuge go to http://www.fws.gov/midwest/squawcreek