by Aaron Post, Missouri Conservation Agent
trange weather we are having! I was patrolling the Weston bottoms along Kirk Road on the warmest, windiest day in December when a blur of white caught my eye. It definitely wasn’t snow, but it was a snowy owl. These large, white birds are quite rare this far south. The last time I saw one in Missouri was about six years ago when one took up residence along Smithville Lake for the winter. Searching for prey is what motivates these birds to migrate. They prefer wide open spaces, and their primary prey are lemmings up on the Canadian tundra. When food becomes scarce, they move south. There, they prey on mice, waterfowl, and rabbits, which makes the wide-open river bottoms a pretty good stopping place.
If you head out to do some bird watching, the roads through the Missouri River bottoms offer some excellent opportunities. You will likely see bald eagles, huge flocks of snow geese and other waterfowl, swans, and a variety of songbirds that migrate along the river bluffs. There will be an Eagle Days program at Smithville Lake Jan. 8-9 at the Paradise Point Golf Complex, if you’d like a little more controlled climate.
If you have questions about conservation, call me at (816) 244-0702. You can also call Conservation Agent Doug Yeager at (816) 835-6086. If you’d like to report a violation, you can call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111 and remain completely anonymous.