RRSP bird count flat this year

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Photo by Kerry Hays/Missouri State Parks Park visitor The Roaring River State Park staff counted 351 birds from 31 different species during its annual bird count on Jan. 23. Kerry Hays, park assistant superintendent, captured the photo above of a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron in the park last summer.

The 2013 bird count at Roaring River State Park is nearly identical to the total number of birds tallied during last year's tours of the park.

"Roaring River offers a mix of different habitats, from open water and open grasslands to woodlands," said Tim Smith, park naturalist. "The complex of different habitats makes it an ideal place for a variety of species of birds."

This year, park employees counted 16 eagles, which is nine more the number recorded in 2012.

"During the week or two prior to the count, it cooled down significantly up north," said Smith. "The increase could have a little to do with that.

"There is not any one thing that we can put our finger on and say this is why, though," continued Smith. "We have been seeing more eagles throughout the park this year than we did last, and we believe it probably has something to do with the cold weather in the northern states."

In addition to the 16 Bald Eagles, park staff members counted 351 birds from 31 different species in the park. Last year, 352 birds from 27 different species were counted.

The top five species counted in the park this year included: Yellow-rumped Warbler; American Crow; Dark-eyed Junco; Northern Cardinal; and American Gold Finch.

Park employees collect annual bird count data by traveling from the park hatchery to Glade Shoot Ridge on Highway F. It takes several hours to complete the bird count. This year's count was conducted on Jan. 23.

Roaring River staff members encourage visitors to be aware of the many different species of birds living in the park. Individuals interested in learning more about the birds are encouraged to visit the nature center. The park will also host an eagle viewing event on Feb. 16.

The eagle viewing events, which give attendees an opportunity to learn about American Bald Eagles and view the birds roosting in the park, are held at the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center on Highway F in Roaring River beginning at 3 p.m.

Individuals planning to attend the eagle viewing program should wear appropriate winter clothing to the event. Attendees are also invited to bring cameras and binoculars.

The program usually lasts around one hour, but attendees are encouraged to view eagles for as long as they want. Nature center staff members will be available to answer questions during the viewing.

"We had a good number of participants at last month's eagle viewing event," said Smith. "We saw eight eagles, and we had around 40 people attend in January.

"Right now is a good time to see eagles," continued Smith. "We are expecting it to hold out another couple of weeks until the eagle viewing event."

Roaring River State Park offers eagle viewing events in December, January and February of each year. Park visitors can also learn about birds during Roaring River's annual WOW event, which is held in October.

For more information on bird viewing in the park or the annual bird count call the Roaring River State Park nature center at 847-3742.

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