The great migration of songbirds is mostly over, and the “pretty birds” have moved on to their northern breeding grounds. Several people have commented on what an amazing spring it was this year, with so many migrants congregating in backyards everywhere.
Swainson’s Thrush was almost a common backyard bird as they stopped off to search through the fallen leaf litter for something to eat.
Apparently the extreme cold weather and snow we had back in April stalled the migration, with birds piling up just south of us, waiting for better weather and northerly winds. Elsewhere the migration stalled where extreme flooding occurred in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.
As we returned north from Texas through the Plaines states in late April, we just missed the massive concentration of waterfowl that had briefly taken up residence in Loess Bluffs wildlife refuge in northwestern Missouri. It wasn’t easy to get to the refuge because there was flooding with road closures all around it. The refuge itself was also flooded, but we could still drive part way around it.
Redbuds were in bloom. Flooded pools that were full of migratory waterfowl two weeks earlier in the background.
Extensive wetlands attract a variety of waterfowl, especially Snow Geese.
May Apples were just about to bloom in the forests on the Loess Hills.
A month earlier, the refuge had an enormous population of Snow Geese stopover for refueling on their northward migration. The Kansas City Star newspaper reported that on March 5, there were about 20 Snow Geese on the refuge, and a week later there were 1.3 MIllion! Imagine the mess 1.3 million Geese would leave behind. Maybe it’s a good thing the water levels were so high.
The scene on the refuge on March 15, 2019. Photo from the Kansas City Star.
There were still quite a few Snow Geese on the refuge (far away across the water in the background) in late April. But what is of interest in this shot is the horde of Tree Swallows (small black dots on the cattails in the middle of the pond) spending a few nights in the marshes fattening up on insects.
We made a sunset drive through the refuge and spotted a few of the residents.
Lots of Great Blue Herons
Another GBH, in a scene looking like abstract art.
A pair of Sandhill Cranes moseying along the bank.
Turkey Vultures were congregated at the outlet of this large pond, where there was a bunch of stinky, dead fish. The last golden rays of the setting sun almost made this bird attractive…
After reveling in the spring weather of northern Missouri, we headed home to MN, where the leaves were still in buds on the trees.