Best Place to Bird-Watch

Audubon Center at Riverlands

A robin's-egg-blue circle affixed to the entrance of the Audubon Center at Riverlands highlights the day's birding news in dry-erase marker: "Blue Grosbeak seen on Two Pecan Trail." There are telescopes along the large plate-glass windows inside the striking educational space, but outside is where the birdsong chirps. Senior ecologist Lane Richter, an avid bird watcher for eight years, says of that blue grosbeak, "He's been singing here all summer. And he's about as blue as the cap on this water bottle." A true cerulean blue. However, the bird Richter is most excited about having spotted in the 3,700 acres of the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is not flashy but the fairly common Passerina caerulea — it's the white-winged scoter, a sea duck. "This is not their turf. They stick to the coasts as a rule," Richter says. Another favorite is the American white pelican, which winters in Ellis Bay on the Mississippi. "They fish together like a sort of animated seine net, scooting the fish with their feet into one spot where they all can feast." The center's position near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers — a globally designated "Important Bird Area," makes it best place in the metro area to see 325 species fly by.

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