U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Squaw Creek
National Wildlife Refuge

bald eagle in flight with blue sky behind
Highway 159 South
Mound City, MO   64470
E-mail: squawcreek@fws.gov
Phone Number: 660-442-3187
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Squaw Creek Refuge boasts large concentrations of bald eagles in the winter months.
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  Wildlife and Habitat

Continued . . .

Each spring and fall, northwestern Missouri is invaded by a cacophony of ducks and geese stopping to rest and fuel their bodies for the seasonal migration between northern breeding grounds and southern wintering areas.

Squaw Creek Refuge is home to a variety of animal species. Wildlife recordings show more than 30 species of mammals, almost 40 species of reptiles and amphibians, and more than 300 species of birds have been found using the refuge. The diversity of animal species results from the diversity of habitats within the refuge.

Squaw Creek Refuge comprises 7,350 acres of refuge land. Refuge habitats consist of approximately 3,200 acres wetlands, 2,020 grasslands, 1,560 forests and 490 croplands. Overlooking the refuge from the east, the loess hills habitat is a geological formation of fine silt deposited during the past glacial period. The hills stretch from about 30 miles south of St. Joseph, Missouri, to extreme northern Iowa.

Some of the last parcels of native plants, of a once vast native prairie, can be found here. Remnants of Missouri's native prairie are found here and include Indian grass, big bluestem, blazing star, compass plant, yucca, beard-tongue, and skeleton plant. Some native prairie has been restored on the loess hills and in the bottomland. Red-tailed hawks and great horned owls hunt for mice and voles in these grasslands.

Woodland slopes covered by mature oak-hickory trees are where the towhees, robins, nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, and tanagers can be seen during the summer. The woodlands provide resting and feeding perches for hawks and bald eagles. White-tailed deer and turkey are also common in the woodlands, and bobwhite quail and pheasants are found in the grassy edge near the woodlands.

Squaw Creek Refuge's wetlands can attract as many as 400,000 snow geese if conditions are correct during spring and fall migrations. Fall and winter waterfowl migration can peak with 100,000 ducks. Wetlands range from open pools and mud flats to flooded woodlands and cattail-filled marshes. An abundant population of muskrats - aquatic, rat-like mammals - is evident from the number of muskrat houses dotting the large wetlands. These dome-shaped houses make handy perches for bald eagles, double-crested cormorants, and Canada geese.

In the shallow, reedy marshes live secretive species like the sora rail and American bittern. The same reedy marshes are filled in the evening by thousands of roosting songbirds, including yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds. Open shallows give views of great blue herons wading on long legs fishing for frogs and fish. Marsh water levels are drawn down in spring to create shorebird habitats. Many species of sandpipers, plovers, dowitchers, and curlews prefer to migrate along freshwater routes, such as the Missouri River flood plain, foraging on mudflats.

Bald eagles follow concentrations of snow geese to the refuge feeding on sick and injured birds. Eagle numbers can peak with 300 birds or more in early December. A single pair of adult bald eagles has been nesting on the refuge in spring since 1997. Other federal and state threatened and endangered species observed on the refuge include the peregrine falcon, piping plover, and the Eastern massasauga rattlesnake.

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