Site Description: DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge encompasses an old oxbow of the Missouri River. Its 8,300 acres consist mostly of riverine deciduous forest, a large oxbow lake, and croplands. The interpretive center has large windows that face an 875-acre lake. There are also outdoor viewing platforms for close viewing, a twelve-mile drive around the refuge, and four hiking trails. Located about halfway between Blair, Neb., and Missouri Valley, Iowa, the refuge includes parts of both states.
Ornithological Summary: The refuge is an important stopover for waterfowl during spring and fall migration. It is also an annual destination for birders, particularly in fall, to view the enormous numbers of snow geese (and some Ross' geese) which have attained a maximum daily average of almost 250,000 in recent years. There is a bird checklist of at least 240 species, including 8l breeders. Peak populations of ducks, mostly Mallards, average 50,000 birds. Bald Eagles counts have been as high as 140. There are impressive numbers of certain breeding passerine species, specifically Red-headed Woodpecker, Dickcissel, and Grasshopper Sparrow. New wetland developments and water management regimes are improving the refuge for migrant shorebirds and prairie restoration efforts are adding significant areas of tallgrass habitat for grassland birds.
For more information, call or write Kevin Poague, Important Bird Areas Coordinator, Audubon Nebraska, P.O. Box 117, 11700 SW 100th Street, Denton, NE 68339 402-797-2301, Fax: 402-797-2304.