Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Spectacular Spring Migration at Squaw Creek Refuge
Midwest Region, May 10, 2009
Print Friendly Version

The spring waterfowl, marsh, water and shorebird migration was spectacular at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.  Snow geese began to arrive in early February.  By the 16th, 600,000 snow geese were present, 1,200,000 counted the 24th and a peak of 1,600,000 estimated the 26th, the largest concentration in refuge history.  Even though a snow storm at the end of February moved birds south, more than 500,000 remained.  In early March, more than 600,000 were on the wetlands but birds quickly headed north as warmer temperatures prevailed in Iowa.

Duck numbers increased in March and peaked at 107,000 at the beginning of April.  A total of 17 different duck species were seen including a rare visit from a cinnamon teal.  American coots peaked at 37,300 in early April.

Bald eagle numbers were also noteworthy and numbers unusual during the spring.  Only 2 bald eagles were present in early February but peaked at nearly 200 at the end of the month probably following the snow goose migration.  A pair of eagles built a new nes at the south end of Pintail Pool and 2 eaglets eventually hatched.

The shorebird migration was excellent with several thousand birds counted each week during April and early May.  A peak of 5,350 birds (16 different species) were counted May 1. Refuge Biologist Frank Durbian estimated the seven shorebird species utilizing the refuge during the spring constituted at least one per cent of the JVSCHS population  Although Squaw Creek only supplies a fraction of the estimated total acres of spring migration habitat, it harbored from 1.0 to 19.5% of the total populations of these seven species during the srping migration (approximately 43,864 birds).

Contact Info: Ron Bell, 660/442-5754,extension 13, Ron_Bell@fws.gov
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State

Search by Region

US Fish and Wildlife Service footer