Missouri

It’s pelican time at former Squaw Creek refuge, so where are the flocks of gawkers?

Pelicans in Missouri? Just a short drive north of KC

The Leoss Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, formerly the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, currently has about 1,000 pelicans.
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The Leoss Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, formerly the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, currently has about 1,000 pelicans.

Spring is here, thaw has come to the wetlands, so everybody’s probably asking: Where can I find a pelican?

Well, not at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge up north of Kansas City, because that place is no more. As of Jan. 11, Squaw Creek became Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge.

The change was part of a move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rid the department of names that some might find offensive or derogatory.

But back to the pelicans.

For years, people have made trips to what is now Loess Bluffs, about 100 miles north of Kansas City in Holt County, to see the snow geese and trumpeter swans. Canada geese and bald eagles are also big draws.

But few visitors, it seems, want to watch the pelican.

They might be the C-SPAN of waterfowl.

There are several hundred pelicans at Loess Bluff now, and Darrin Welchert, wildlife biologist, says he doesn’t know why they’re not a crowd favorite.

“They’re a big bird with an abnormal beak,” he said.

High praise indeed.

The pelicans arrive about this time every year from the Gulf Coast on their way north to Canada. More could show up soon, and they should be on the 3,400 acres of wetlands habitat at Loess Bluffs another month or so, Welchert said.

So there’s plenty of time to go see them.

Or, you could stay home and watch C-SPAN.

Donald Bradley: 816-234-4182

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