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Bird watching at Crane Lake

Birds have been descending on Mark Twain National Forest’s Crane Lake over the past month as the Forest Service has worked to dislodge woody debris from the dam’s outlet structure.

As material was removed, the lake lowered and exposed shoreline and lake bed areas. These exposed areas have provided birds with a bountiful buffet of invertebrates.

People are seeing a variety of species from small shorebirds to bald eagles, which are often seen soaring over the lake and surrounding hills. The double-crested cormorants shown in the picture were resting on some stick-ups along the shoreline one early morning.

A partial drawdown at Crane Lake is being maintained to address issues with the dam. The Forest Service is in the process of constructing a temporary boat ramp at the lake so that boaters and anglers can access the lake with the lowered water levels.

Birdwatchers can hike the 4.5 mile Crane Lake National Recreation Trail to view the various birds that are visiting the lake. To find Crane Lake, take Hwy. E south for 9 miles from Ironton, Missouri; right on Iron county road 124 for 2.5 miles; and then left on Iron County Road 131 for 2 miles.

Birds like these double-crested cormorants descend on Mark Twain National Forest’s Crane Lake.

Birds like these double-crested cormorants descend on Mark Twain National Forest’s Crane Lake.

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