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Posts Tagged ‘red tail hawk’

If you think of the Mississippi River Flyway as a super-highway for migratory birds, then right now it’s the morning rush hour.

I was feeling a little under the weather this weekend, so a low-key adventure was just what the doctor ordered this Sunday.  Some girlfriends and I grabbed our cameras and a pair of binoculars, loaded up the Camry and took to the road for some amazing bird watching.

According to the Audubon website, up to half of North America’s migrating waterfowl and many shore birds use the Mississippi Flyway to navigate between their winter haunts and their summer digs.  It’s not hard to see why birds choose this route. As the ice pack breaks its hold on the river, the fish and other food sources become abundant.  Also, the river is such an easy marker of North and South for the birds to follow, that it’s like a natural GPS.

The tri-state area is something of a cross roads of the birds this time of year, and it’s not uncommon to see mixed groups of birds sitting out on the water.  Sunday we came across a particularly odd “flock” of canvas backed ducks, mallards, seagulls and white pelicans.

Our driving route gave us the best views of birds I could have asked for.  We started on the Quincy riverfront and headed north on Bonansinga Drive.  We then took a left by Bear Creek (W County Road 1550) and a right up County Road 423 E (this is the first right you see after Bear Creek. Quincy natives will know this as the “Bottom Road.”  The road takes you all the way to Warsaw where I can confidently guarantee Canadian Geese sitting along the riverfront.  From there, we headed towards the Keokuk Bridge — stopping briefly on the Illinois side by the boat launch for some bald eagle watching, and then we headed over the bridge to the Keokuk riverfront.

Your bird viewing will be different depending on the time of day and your luck, but we saw the following birds all on one Sunday (estimates of numbers where applicable):

– Bald Eagles (12) – Blue Heron (1) – Red Tailed Hawks (10) – Canvas Back Ducks – Mallard Ducks – Golden Eye Ducks – White Pelican Flock – Turkey Vultures (the biggest flock I’ve ever seen. 100+) – Wild Turkey (1…what was he doing out there?!) – Killdeer (2) – Canadian Geese – Assorted year-round birds including Common Grackle, Cardinals, Robins, Sparrows, Doves, Seagulls

Original Post March 8, 2011

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