Missouri Bird Identification

Missouri Bird Identification
The Audubon Society of Missouri has a checklist of 428 bird species that are found in Missouri. While many of these birds breed in the Show Me State and stay year-round, many others pass through on their way north or south. Other birds will winter in Missouri after living in northern climates in the spring and summer, or simply spend the warm months there before heading south. The bird watcher in Missouri has many ways to locate and identify this assortment of birds.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Field Guide to Missouri Birds Notebook and pencil Binoculars
  • Field Guide to Missouri Birds
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Binoculars
Step 1
Invest in a field guide of Missouri birds. One such book is the "Birds of Missouri Field Guide" by Stan Tekiala, a guide that has detailed information on 115 of the most frequently seen birds in Missouri. Take your field guide with you when birding as well as a notebook, pencil and binoculars. Refer to the guide when you spot an unfamiliar bird and take meticulous notes about its markings, behavior and habitat to help you to identify it.
Step 2
Look for the many species of waterfowl that spend at least part of the winter in Missouri. At some point, you will get a glimpse at mergansers, goldeneyes, scaup, redheads, teals, snow geese, mute swans, pintails and other water birds. Focus on the feathers of the males in particular to make identification, as they are typically much gaudier than the girls.
Step 3
Check beneath trees while walking in the woods for owl pellets. These droppings are the waste products of owls and are full of whatever the birds could not digest. You may find bits of bone and feathers in these droppings. The presence of droppings will alert you to either an owl's perch or nest. From there, you can stake out the area and hope to see the bird. Missouri's owls include the great horned, eastern screech, barred, barn and burrowing owls.
Step 4
Remember that Missouri is home to a huge variety of songbirds. The state's location in the middle of the country means that it has species of eastern birds as well as western types. Look for warblers, sparrows, finches, thrushes, wrens, vireos and flycatchers. Concentrate on recognizing them according to their bird family before trying to narrow down the distinct species. These birds will be in a variety of habitats, including your backyard at your bird feeder.
Step 5
Become familiar with the habitat of the Missouri state bird, the eastern bluebird. This bird prefers farmlands, orchards, golf courses and other open spaces. It has a blue back, wings, tail and head with an orange throat and white belly. You can attract the eastern bluebird to your bird feeders with mealworms, a favorite food of this species.

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