Yesterday, enveloped in chilly air and shrouded by a low overcast, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, on the Missouri River floodplain, was loaded with ducks. Mallards, gadwall, shovelers, coot and blue-winged teal filled the shallows while flocks of lesser scaup, ring-necked ducks and ruddy ducks gathered on the deeper pools. They were joined by scattered pairs of Canada geese, a few pied-billed grebes and the occasional great blue heron, stalking the shorelines.
Of special interest were one snow goose, resting in a flooded woodland, a single white pelican, lounging on a mudflat and a lone trumpeter swan, feeding in a shallow channel. All three of these species are generally found in sizable flocks and the combined presence of these solitary visitors was unusual, especially during the spring migration.
When a flocking species is found alone, it is often a sign that the bird is sick or injured. If so, these white-feathered visitors, conspicuous in the brown, March landscape, will soon be culled by a coyote, a fox or a bald eagle. Such is nature's way; spring may be the time of birth and renewal but death knows no season. Then again, these loners may just relish their solitude and, once they tire of the hospitality at Eagle Bluffs, will join their cohorts to our north.