The Lake of the Ozarks is a feeding and resting ground for numerous species of wildlife, including many varieties of birds. During winter season, it’s great to spend outdoors in the Ozarks and experience the fun and excitement of winter bird watching as there are tons of migrating birds in the area. Bird species that are a familiar sight on the lake include the great blue heron, hawks and ducks of many varieties, cliff swallows, bobwhites, blue jays, cardinals, eastern meadowlarks, wood thrushes, phoebes, pileated woodpeckers and the “leftovers” king of the sky, belted kingfishers, and the turkey vulture.
The great blue heron that is often seen on the lake, makes its nest in quieter spots along secluded areas away from human activity. The birds will desert the sanctuaries if they are disturbed by some human activities in the area. Most of the birds live in colonies or “rookeries”. One such colony can be found ¾ mile south of Bagnell on the east side of the Osage River, where you can see as many as 80 nests of this great blue heron.
During the month of October, bald eagles migrate to the Ozarks and remain until mid or late March. A few of these birds have been known to nest on the lake but the close proximity of homes and human activities prevent any accumulation of this bird. Although many of the species have been seen on the Little and Big Niangua arms, some of the best concentrations can be found near Old Bagnell, and just below Bagnell Dam, on the Osage River. Eagles and gulls dive and chase herring especially when the dam turbines are operating.
Golden eagles have been seen also in the area, but they are not a common sight. Both bald eagles and ring-filled gulls migrate from the Great Lakes region to spend the whole winter time in the Ozarks. Other birds that have been sighted as they migrate to this area are Canada geese, the white pelican and trumpeter swans. Large birds with a long black neck called double crested cormorants or “water turkey” have also been sighted – sometimes in groups of 30 in the shallow areas around Swinging Bridges off Hwy 42, near Brumley. Northern rough-winged swallows and eastern phoebes make their nests on the bluffs that contour the lake.
Other species which are too numerous to mention can be sighted at Lake of the Ozarks. Areas that offer excellent viewing are just about anywhere in the outdoors or even driving down the road or off the deck of your condo or resort accommodation, or around your campsite that is beautifully located on the lake or rivers, and in the woods. The Lake of the Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Parks which are easily accessible to the public are great for winter bird watching.
The Ozarks region in Missouri is a great place to enjoy winter bird watching as the place is a migrating ground for numerous wildlife species including varieties of birds.
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