PRAIRIE SLOUGH CONSERVATION AREA
Edge Wade, 2018
583.86 acres Lincoln and Pike Co. DeLorme 33, 9-G
MDC owned; For information call 636-441-4554
This conservation area is within the National Audubon Society’s Lincoln Alluvial Complex Important Bird Area.
Directions: The two accessible portions of this site must be entered via different roads, both off Rt. P northeast of Elsberry, east of the intersection with MO 79.
To reach the first section (with the privy and boat ramp), from the junction with MO 79, go about 3.8 miles on Rt. P to the cantilever sign pointing to a right turn onto Lincoln County R. 910 on google maps, a.k.a. Prairie Slough Rd. The boundary of the area is about .6 miles east.
To reach the second section that runs along Deer Slough on the east side of the 406-acre Prairie Slough Natural Area, from the cantilever sign for Prairie Slough CA, continue on Rt. P into Pike Co. The first road east (right) past the county line is Pike Co. 202 (shown on google maps with its Lincoln Co. designation of 905). The area boundary is about a quarter mile south from the turn off Rt. P.
ADA Information: Birding can be done from or near a car along gravel roads or parking areas. The privy is accessible.
When to Visit/Species to Expect: The bulk of trip reports have been from March through May, with a few late January and February trips, very limited summer reports, and virtually no reports from late fall through most of January.
The draw for the well-represented time frame is the hope of finding American and Least Bittern and/or King Rail, Virginia Rail and Sora, all of which have been reported in years with favorable water conditions.
Bald Eagles in winter and Mississippi Kites in migration and summer are seen over the Mississippi River from the boat ramp area. A good spread of dabbling ducks is seen in season, and several shorebirds have been reported in May. Marsh Wrens are present in early summer, and Sedge Wrens are found in August and September. Swallows of several species are likely all summer long.
This is a good area to find Prothonotary and Yellow Warblers as well as the nearly ubiquitous Common Yellowthroat. Orchard Orioles and Warbling Vireos compete as songsters.
Features of interest to birders: The area includes about 72 acres of sloughs (about half Prairie Slough and half Deer Slough), 76 acres of wetland (along the road toward the privy), and 438 acres of bottomland wet-mesic forest/woodland (mostly within the natural area).
Two emergent marshes (rich habitat of shallow water with water-tolerant plant species) along the road into the first section hold water throughout much of the year. Depth varies seasonally and yearly. Breeding King Rail have been present some years.
The natural area has bottomland forest, backwater sloughs and shrub swamp natural communities.
Toilets: 1 privy
Hazards/Limitations: The area is subject to Mississippi River flooding; conditions are variable. Access to much of the area may be limited to impassable at times. The two parking areas off Lincoln Co. Rd. 910 along the east side of the natural area may be mud-covered.
A community south of Elsberry on MO 79 has a reputation for collecting funds from birders pressing pedals too hard in their eagerness to see birds. Watch your speed.
Nearby Birding Sites: Hamburg Ferry Access, B.K. Leach CA, Clarence Cannon NWR, Upper Mississippi CA (multiple sites), Cuivre River SP.