The Missouri River flooding of late spring and early summer created shallow lakes across its broad floodplain. Bringing silt and nutrients to the valley soil, annual floods are highly beneficial to the farmers who plant crops on this flat, fertile landscape.
Less fortunate are the fish that become trapped in its temporary pools. After several weeks of hot, dry weather, the flood-born lakes are rapidly receding and the stranded fish are dying by the thousands. Taking advantage of their plight, herons, egrets, mink and bald eagles snatch up the living while flocks of crows and vultures feast on the dead.
Such a macabre scene greeted visitors to the Eagle Bluffs Conser-vation Area, southwest of Columbia, this weekend. Hundreds of turkey vultures circled above the refuge while others strolled the muddy fields, enjoying a smorgasbord of rotting fish. Call it the circle of life; nature does not waste its bounty.