Reservoir attracts migratory birds

Staff writer

Marion Reservoir is a major attraction for the county. In addition to campers, boaters and swimmers, it also attracts a variety of birds this time of year.

Where geese honk and ducks quack, hunters tend to follow.

A waterfowl report provided by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism said that although the expected hunting success for waterfowl is poor at Marion County Reservoir at this time, approximately 350 ducks were spotted Friday.

Hunting conditions were reported to be “good” because the lake level is back up to normal. The north end of the reservoir, French Creek Cove, and all of the small coves and shorelines have flooded vegetation including smartweed, which is a perennial plant that forms dense colonies in shallow water or moist soils and is heavily consumed by ducks, small birds, and small mammals.

Most of the ducks were redheads, ruddy ducks, and golden eyes. However, a few teal ducks and some mallards were observed.

“Late November through December is the peak time for waterfowl,” Scott Amos said. “We get a good number at that time.”

Amos is a biology technician for Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism at Marion Reservoir and Wildlife Area. Along with his other duties, he monitors migratory birds and other wildlife at the reservoir.

Amos and a helper use binoculars to keep a tally on what types of birds they spot.

“We start in summer, in late August, and continue all the way into hunting season, late into the winter,” he said. “During that time, there is a three-day period in which the data we collect goes out to people at the federal level in a formal report.”

Amos said hunting limits could vary annually due to the national data collected each year.

“All birds are federally protected except for three invasive types — the starling, the house sparrow, and the pigeon. Game-birds like duck and geese have hunting regulations.”

Along with hunters, some bird enthusiasts travel to the reservoir to catch a glimpse of the migratory birds they might not normally see here year round.

“There really are so many birds that follow the seasons,” Amos said.

While doing his waterfowl report Amos said he has also seen many other types of migratory birds including a white-faced ibis, an American avocet, a chipping sparrow, and thousands of franklin’s gull, to name a few.

Amos said most birds tend to migrate because they follow a food source such as insects or prefer a particular area for breeding.

 

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