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My Life’s Birds: #92

May 28, 2008

October 16, 1993 – Lake Springfield, Mo – As my dad and I expanded our birding horizons we began to explore places around the region, elsewhere in Southwest Missouri. One of the spots we would regularly hit was Lake Springfield, within the city limits of Springfield and conveniently. The lake was created by a small damn near the coal power plant, providing the water than was turned to steam to run the turbines that provided power for the entire city.

The lake was longish, shallow and choked with vegetation. As such, it was a pretty good place for ducks in the fall and spring, but there was a good sized population of American Coots. They’d hang out in the pond lilies by the boat ramp, feeding not only on aquatic insects and plant matter, but on the trash that boaters would leave behind. The population was mostly migratory, and tended to double or even triple in the cold months, but there were usually a handful there even in the summer, though it’s unclear if they ever nested.

Every time I go home to this day my dad and I find some time to swing by Lake Springfield, on the way to and from errands in the town. The coots are always easy to find even if the boat ramps have been modernized and a brand new boathouse sits where there once was nothing. The park around the lake used to have a somewhat sketchy reputation, perhaps necessitating the new boat house in the mind of the park board. But to this day the lake still has a reputation as a reliable place for the gregarious coots.

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