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New Audubon Center north of St. Louis will facilitate bird viewing along Mississippi River

The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is opening a new information center overlooking the Mississippi River in West Alton.

Riverlands program manager Charlie Deutsch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the 3,700-acre sanctuary attracts tens of thousands of migratory birds every year.

Deutsch says the peak viewing season for large birds is November to February, when visitors can see eagles, trumpeter swans, and pelicans.

He hopes people will use the new 3,500-square-foot Audubon Center at Riverlands as a launching point to get out and explore.

“The idea was that folks would come in and get information, maybe look through some spotting scopes, find out about the birds that are in the area that day, learn a little about the site, and then head on out,” Deutsch said.

Audubon staff will also provide guided hikes and offer educational programs for middle and high school students.

Audubon Center executive director Patty Hagen says exhibits inside the building will include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's e-bird tracker.

“It's an interactive way for people to be able to identify birds, and then also report birds that they may have seen here on the trails at Riverlands,” Hagen said. “And all of that information goes into Cornell's citizen science database.”

The more than $3 million facility was built using federal stimulus funds as a joint project of the Corps and the Audubon Society.

The Audubon Center at Riverlands will officially open to the public on October 15.

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