Birding on Mississippi River Pool 9

Located in the midst of some of the best birdwatching and wildlife viewing habitats of America. The abundance of top-quality wetland habitats makes Ferryville the perfect destination for those seeking to observe the spring and fall migration of waterfowl. The national treasure of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge hosts:

  • 306 species of birds
  • 165 bald eagle nests
  • 5,000 heron and egret nests in 15 colonies
  • 50% of the worlds canvasback ducks
  • 20% of eastern U.S. tundra swans
  • 51 species of mammals
  • 42 species of freshwater mussels
  • 119 species of fish
  • 3.7 million annual visits for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and other recreation. 

Pool 9 Full of Ducks

On one cold early November day in 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was conducting a waterfowl census flying low over the Pool 9 . They counted 277,015 canvasback and 91,350 scaup. The canvasback number is significant because The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated on 489,000 of the big ducks in all of North America during its breeding duck survey. Other species in this daily pool 9 count included 7,335 mallards, 4,195 gadwall, 1,740 Canada geese and 1,580 swans, as well as 15,290 coot and one white pelican.

Helpful Links For Birding Resources & Information




Hundreds of bald eagles can be seen during migration.

During the peak of migration thousands of canvasbacks, common mergansers, goldeneyes, mallads, shovelers, blue-wing teal and coot gather on the refuge.

The peak of songbird migration is in mid-May when more than 150 species can be seen.


Great blue herons nest in the rookeries in the flooded timbered areas of the refuge. Some of these contain over 1,000 nests and include great egrets and double-crested cormorants.

It is also a spectacular sight to see the American white pelicans feeding in formation or soaring over the pool 9.


The fall colors are the backdrop for thousands of waterfowl migrating back to their wintering grounds.

Migrating tundra swans grace the pool through free-up.


Wintering bald eagles congregate in the open water around the area.

More migration information here.