20 March 2024

Birds of Winter, Among Others

Written by: Ivan Bossert

Hello again, it’s Ivan! January and February flew by, with lots of winter events. The Audubon Center’s area-wide bird-themed scavenger hunt was a big hit again and people of all ages participated. Weekends were the name of the game this winter; the confluence region is a hotspot for Bald Eagles and Trumpeter Swans during the colder months, so we kept the refuge open for a while on Saturdays and Sundays for people to have a chance to see a bird. I designed a banner to hang below our road sign with information about the temporary extended hours.

On alternating weekends, I was at the Audubon Center for Raptor Saturdays and Eagle Sundays. These events had vendors, education tables, guided hikes, and the nearby World Bird Sanctuary brought live raptors and gave programs! It was a big hit.

One of my favorite experiences so far was at the end of January, when a few of the local outdoor partners (Army Corps of Engineers, National Parks, FWS, Audubon, etc.) went to the Clarksville Lock and Dam a couple miles up the Mississippi River in a small town. Each partner had a different station, and I was at eagle viewing and s’mores making. Five or six local schools brought out their fourth-grade classes and rotated through the stations throughout the day. It was a fun time all around, and the bald eagles were not hiding, but just before lunchtime I was called over to where a new class was arriving. One of the students spoke only Spanish, and I turned out to be the only one working the event that spoke Spanish too! He was quiet and shy at first, but eventually he was (still quietly) talking with me. I was scared that he was going to judge me for being out of practice, but he was very nice when I forgot a word or misunderstood him. The other staff let me abandon my post and hang out (or translate) with him as his class rotated stations, so I got to do all the fun things the students did. I wasn’t expecting any Spanish interaction in rural Missouri, but it was really affirming to exercise that muscle and have it be so useful.

To wind down the winter program season, me and Ranger (Refuge Visitor Services Manager) Bob set up a table for Ice Jam at the Dam, put on by the Army Corps of Engineers. This Dam was closer to home, right across the Illinois River from St Louis. It was frigid, with a stiff breeze making things colder: a hearty last hurrah of winter weather.

As the weather warms up, the schedule will as well. I’m looking forward to more programs outside and the business that comes with it. Until next time!

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