“Flush Twice – It’s a Long Way to Eagle Bluffs”

Published: April 9, 2013

Original presentation by Tim James, Wildlife Management Biologist, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, MDC

Tuesday, April 9 , 2013

Lower floor of the Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
in Rocheport, MO (directions below)

Just south of Columbia, MO, in the McBaine Bottoms is a true Missouri River treasure. Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is one of several intensively managed wetland restoration projects lying in the river floodplain. This 4,431 acre wildlife haven has over 10 miles of river and creek frontage between the Missouri River and Perche Creek. It provides an important stop-over and feeding station for migratory waterfowl and crucial cottonwood forest habitat for migrating songbirds. Its wetland pools also serve as a final treatment for the City of Columbia’s wastewater. baldeagle

photo courtesy of MDC

From fall through spring, immense flocks of a stunning diversity of waterfowl can be seen here. From bald eagle nests to roosting blue herons, from rafts of American white pelicans to thousands of snow geese and swirling vortexes of red-winged blackbirds, the bird watching is peerless in the area. Late spring brings crowds of warblers and shorebirds. Horned larks flit in front of your car as you drive through.


This diversity is no accident. In order to mitigate for the thousands of acres of wetlands lost during the channelization of the Missouri River and conversion of wetlands to agriculture, the Mo. Dept. of Conservation created Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area to provide this critical wetland habitat in the river bottoms. Pumps throughout the area draw water from the alluvium to fill wetland pools just when the migrating waterfowl need them.

An additional supply of water comes from the City of Columbia wastewater treatment facility. After primary treatment, the wastewater flows to cattail ponds in the bottoms. Eagle Bluffs can then use that water to supplement their wetland pools providing additional bioremediation as well as a crucial watersource. Water level management is timed to provide suitable habitat for migrating birds that meets their life-history needs.


Tim James, wildlife management biologist for the area, shared his story of Eagle Bluffs. How it works, what animals use it and how concerns about water quality in the bottoms may effect wetland management. See links on the right for more info on recent concerns about contamination of Columbia drinking water due to infiltration from wetland wastewater treatment.

Resources and Links

The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport

is hosted by Missouri River Relief, Friends of Big Muddy, the Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge and the Columbia Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office (USFWS).

All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

Click here for a list of upcoming presentations»

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Kansas City and St. Charles.

Marsh Bird Monitoring Opportunity at Eagle Bluffs

The Missouri River Bird Observatory and Audubon Columbia will be hosting a “Marsh Bird Workshop” training program the following two days, April 10-11, at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. You’ll receive training to participate in the 2013 MRBO marsh bird survey. Experienced birders with desire to participate in a long-term project are preferred, but anyone can contact MRBO at ethan.duke@mrbo.org or 660-886-8788 for details.
Info on Marsh Bird Survey
Agenda for April 10-11 training at Eagle Bluffs

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