Bald eagles are coming soon to a body of water near you.
In Missouri and Kansas, this is the time of year when they swoop down on marshes in the area, following the waterfowl migrations. Their mission? To feed on the wounded or dead.
Each year, special Eagle Days presentations are put on to highlight the giant top-of-the-food-chain predators. Here’s a look at a few of them:
▪ The 37th annual Eagle Days presentation is set for Saturday and Sunday at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri. Highlights will include a chance to get an up-close look at a captive bald eagle during a presentation by the Dickerson Park Zoo and a wildlife tour of the refuge to see wild eagles.
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▪ The opportunity to view one of the big avian predators soaring over the Missouri River will highlight an Eagle Day event Dec. 12 at LaBenite Park in Sugar Creek.
During the presentation, which will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Missouri Department of Conservation will offer eagle-watching boat tours. Pre-registration for this part of the event is required. The sign-up period opened Tuesday. To register, call 816-228-3766.
▪ Eagles also will be in the spotlight Jan. 9-10 when Smithville Lake has its annual event. The presentation will be based at the Paradise Pointe Golf Course clubhouse, with both indoor talks and outdoors tours offered. Call 816-532-0174 for more information.
A mass migration
The Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri is living up to its reputation as a major stopping point on the snow goose’s fall migration route.
A survey this week indicated that 320,000 snows and blues have stopped at the refuge, creating a blizzard in the sky over the marshes.
The first major push of the geese came during the week of Nov. 16-24, when 207,900 snows and blues were counted at the refuge. The previous week, only 5,400 snow geese were using the marshes.
The numbers made another big jump last week as cold weather and snow to the north of Missouri pushed the snow geese south.
Judging the distance of your shots
Not hitting your shots at ducks or geese? Maybe you’re not judging the distance of passing waterfowl well enough.
Frank Nelson, a waterfowl biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, attended one of the agency’s Effective Wingshooting for the Hunter programs. And he learned some surprising statistics about the average waterfowl hunter. He outlined his findings in a news release this week.
▪ The average first shot at a duck is when the bird is 53 yards away.
▪ Even worse, the first shot at a goose is 67 yards away.
▪ Most hunters think birds are much closer than they actually are and underestimate the distance by at least 10 to 20 yards.
▪ Most hunters are shooting 30 to 40 yards beyond their personal range, leading to higher crippling rates of waterfowl.
Teachers at the workshop recommended locating a landmark, such as a decoy, at the edge of your personal range and stepping off the distance. Then when ducks or geese fly in, you’ll know when to pull the trigger and when to hold off.