Rural Missouri Magazine

Where the birds are

photo by Jim McCarty

A recent census of the Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge population revealed why the northwest Missouri sanctuary is such a popular destination for bird watchers.

The census takers reported 89,000 snow geese, 75,000 mallard ducks, 118 bald eagles and lesser numbers of ring billed gulls, buffleheads and other interesting species.

Congress established Swan Lake in 1937 when dust bowl conditions obscured the future of our nation's migratory waterfowl. The Civilian Conservation Corps turned 10,670 acres of land into wetlands designed to provide them food and water for their annual migrations.

The original objective was to provide a home for prairie chickens and ducks. But by 1941 800 geese found the refuge. Each year their numbers have steadily increased to the 100,000 range.

Visitors here can bird watch using two spotting scopes placed here for visitors or can climb a unique observation tower converted from a silo. There's a visitor's center that helps explain the site's mission and hiking trails for closer looks.

Swan Lake is located 12 miles south of Highway 36 at Sumner, which is home to Maxie, the world's largest goose (left). For more information call (816) 856-3323



Previous Destinations
Ha Ha Tonka
Greer Spring
Fort Osage


Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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