State of Missouri

Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis ©Robert Royse Website
Birding Missouri

ocated in the centre of the United States, Missouri offers a wide range of habitats and diversity of avifauna. The state is poised at the edge of the Great Plains on the west, and hardwood forests of the eastern US. Missouri’s weather and wildlife is strongly influenced by the great rivers of the American Midwest, the Mississippi and the Missouri.

The state may be divided into two major regions by the west to east passage of the Missouri river. The northern third of Missouri (north of the River) is composed of glaciated plains. These gently rolling lands have, for the most part, been cleared of pre-settlement prairies and riparian woods in preparation for extensive farming. Birds seen in this zone range from Lark Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark at the dry western extremes through Loggerhead Shrike, Dickcissel and other open area species in the centre, to edge/hardwood forest species in the east.

The south central portion (south of the Missouri River) contains the more rugged terrain of the Ozarks. The eastern half of this region includes dense hardwood forests populated with a variety of Woodpeckers, Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Kentucky Warblers, and Tufted Titmice (to name but a few). The White River Cedar Glades near the southwestern border of the state contain the highest concentrations of Greater Roadrunners, Prairie Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks, & Painted Buntings.

The southeastern portion of the state (known locally as the boot heel) is composed of Mississippi lowlands. Most of the swampy forests typical of this area have been converted to agricultural use, and the area presently has some of the highest concentrations of Killdeer, American Kestrels, Horned Larks, Red-Winged Blackbirds, and European Starlings in the state.

The west central portions of Missouri are blessed with surviving remnants of the native Tall Grass prairies once common to much of pre-settlement Missouri. In addition to many of the bird species seen in glaciated plains, this region is also home to Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers, Bell’s Vireos, and prairie specific birds like Greater Prairie Chicken, Upland Sandpiper, Short-Eared Owl, Grasshopper Sparrow and Henslow’s Sparrow.

Much of the remainder of the state is Missouri and Mississippi River Lowlands. These river floodplain regions have been significantly developed by the hand of man, leaving the rivers channelized, leveed, locked and dammed to a point where little of the dynamic character of these important bodies of water remains today. Some of the species with greatest abundance in these areas include Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Warbling Vireo, Least Tern, Fish Crow, Western Kingbird, and Yellow-Headed Blackbird. The Mississippi River lowlands also rest within a major migratory flyway for a variety of species.

The 1998 revision of the Annotated Checklist of Missouri Birds shows 397 species positively identified in the state. Nineteen additional hypotheticals boost the total to well over 400. Spring and Fall migrations see a wide ranging variety of eastern and western birds moving through the state. Forty-one species of Wood Warblers have been reported in Missouri, along with 22 Sparrow species, 10 Thrushes, 14 flycatchers, 9 owls, 22 Raptors, and scores of waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds. Some of the latest additions to this list include Anna’s Hummingbird, Eurasian Collared Doves, and Smew.

Nearly every corner of Missouri has something unique to offer the serious birder. The state is home to four National Wildlife Refuges: Squaw Creek, Swan Lake, Clarence Cannon, and Mingo, and countless Conservation areas managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Some favourite areas frequented by Missouri birders include (but certainly are not limited to) Eagle bluffs Conservation Area near Columbia, Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area in West Alton, Schell-Osage Conservation Area near Nevada, Lake Jacomo near Kansas City, Otter Slough Conservation Area near Dexter, & Taberville Prairie near Sedalia.

Missouri accommodates an active birding community, which avails us of many useful resources. The Audubon Society of Missouri (ASM) serves as the state’s major ornithological organization. This body maintains an up-to-date annotated checklist of Missouri Birds, and serves as the repository for rare bird sighting data. An e-mail listserve known as MOBIRDS is hosted by ASM, and serves the Missouri birding community as a rapid, efficient means to distribute rare bird sightings to interested individuals via the internet. Subscription information for this service is available on the ASM website at the address shown below. Spending a bit of time at the following web sites goes a long way toward helping one understand what birding is like in Missouri, but it’s nothing like actually doing it! Come join us, and we’ll be proud to share the best we have with you!

  • Jim Malone

    St. Louis MO |

  • Mike Beck

    Additional Material |
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 434

    (As of October 2018) |

    State Bird - Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Guide to Bird Finding in Kansas and Western Missouri

    | By John L Zimmerman & Sebastian T. Patti | University Press of Kansas | 1988 | Paperback | 230 pages, 17 illustrations, 26 maps | ISBN: 9780700603664 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Missouri

    | (Their Distribution and Abundance) | By MB Robbins & DA Easterlea | University of Missouri Press | 1991 | Hardback | 397 pages, b/w photos, distribution maps | ISBN: 9780826207913 Buy this book from
  • Missouri in Flight

    | (The Bird Photography of Mundy Hackett) | by Mundy Hackett | University of Missouri Press | 2007 | hardback | 160 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9780826217066 Buy this book from
  • Audubon Society of Missouri

    The Audubon Society of Missouri is dedicated to the preservation and protection of birds and other wildlife; to education and appreciation of the natural world; and to effective wildlife and habitat conservation practices.
  • Audubon in Missouri

    Offices & Chapters; Centers & Sanctuaries; Upcoming Events
  • Burroughs Audubon Society

    The Greater Kansas City Chapter of the National Audubon Society - 7300 SW West Park Road ~ Blue Springs, MO 64015
  • East Ozarks Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    Meetings are held at Memorial United Methodist Church, 425 North St, Farmington on the third Thursday of odd months
  • Grand River Audubon Society

    851 Glenwood, Chillicothe, MO 64601 - Terry McNeely
  • Greater Ozarks Audubon Society

    Connecting People with Nature in Our Southwest Missouri Communities...
  • Midland Empire Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    The Midland EmpireAudubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving NW Missouri, promoting conservation of birds, wildlife and habitat.
  • Missouri Bird Records Committee

    Missouri Bird Records Committee members listed
  • Nature Conservatory in Missouri

    Welcome to the Missouri Chapter of The Nature Conservancy! Here you'll find information on the many ways we're working with the people of the state and the nation to help preserve the diversity of living things by protecting the habitats - land, water, and air - in which they live…
  • Ozark Gateway Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    305 W. Bishop, Carl Junction, MO 64834, 417-438-6213- Ozark Gateway Audubon Society is the local chapter and part of the National Audubon Society…
  • Ozark Rivers Audubon Chapter

    The Ozark Rivers Chapter is the steward of Audubon Trails Nature Center (Audubon Trails NC). For the nature-lover, conservationist, hiker, runner and biker. Audubon Trails NC is located north of I-44 in Rolla, Missouri. The NC is a unique 70-acre reserve dedicated to community education and habitat preservation.
  • River Bluffs Audubon Society

    The mission of the River Bluffs Audubon Society is to educate, inform, and inspire the local community so they will actively conserve, enjoy, and restore habitat for birds and wildlife.
  • Scenic Rivers Audubon Society

    Poplar Bluff, MO 63901
  • St Louis Audubon Society

    The St. Louis Audubon Society (SLAS) was established in 1916 as the St. Louis Bird Club. In 1944, the Bird Club became the first local Audubon chapter in the United States. Today, the chapter consists of over 2500 members in 7 counties of Missouri and Illinois. The aims of the St. Louis Audubon Society are to: 1) Conserve native plants, animals, and their habitats; 2) Understand the environmental interrelationships of man with these natural resources and abiotic resources like soil, air, and water; 3) Promote and support the protection and conservation of our local, regional, and global natural systems; and 4) Support conservation and environmental research.
  • Webster Groves Nature Study Society

    Founded in 1920, Webster Groves Nature Study Society focuses on experiencing nature. Join WGNSS for birds, bugs, & botany! All events are free & open to the public, unless noted.

Abbreviations Key

  • BS Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary

    Facebook PageSatellite View
    Designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary encompasses a total of 3700 acres. Within the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a 1200 acre wetland/prairie restoration project.
  • IBA Lower Grand River Wetlands

    InformationSatellite View
    The majority of the Lower Grand River Wetlands IBA south of Linn County occupies the Missouri-Grand River Alluvial Plain, which was historically characterized by wet prairie, with some forest and marsh in the bottomland (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). The northern end of the IBA had some upland prairie, savanna, and woodland. Much prairie has been lost to cropland, but many acres persist as wetlands and bottomland forest on the conservation lands mentioned below.
  • Missouri State Parks

    InformationSatellite View
    For more than 80 years, the Missouri state park system has preserved and made available to the people of Missouri the best of our state's natural and cultural resources. The mission of the Missouri state park system is to preserve and interpret the state's most outstanding natural landscapes and cultural landmarks, and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities. Preserving Missouri's Natural Landscapes.
  • NC Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area

    WebpageSatellite View
    Discover Nature at Burr Oak Woods! Burr Oak Woods is a showplace for Missouri's fish, forests and wildlife -- a natural oasis in your own backyard, just 1 mile north of I-70 and minutes from downtown Kansas City.
  • NC Riverlands Audubon Center

    WebpageSatellite View
    The best place in the St Louis Region to naturally connect with the Mississippi River. Our mission is to connect people to the beauty and significance of the Mississippi River and the Great Rivers confluence, to inspire conservation of the river's rich diversity in birds, wildlife and other natural resources, and to support healthy, vibrant communities.
  • NR Shaw Nature Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Shaw Nature Reserve strives to inspire responsible stewardship of our environment through education, restoration and protection of natural habitats, and public enjoyment of the natural world.
  • NWR Mingo

    WebpageSatellite View
    The 21,592-acre refuge lies in a basin formed in an ancient channel of the Mississippi River. Mingo National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society as the refuge supports bird species and habitats that are of conservation priority...
  • NWR Squaw Creek

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Welcome to the website for the Friends of the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge located near Mound City, Missouri…
  • WiR Bell Mountain Wilderness

    WebpageSatellite View
    The 9,143-acre Bell Mountain Wilderness is part of the St. Francois Mountains, one of the oldest landforms in North America. This is mostly old-growth, oak and hickory forest, with pine and elm, grassy glades, and granite outcroppings.
Sightings, News & Forums
Trip Reports
  • 2018 [05 May] - Steve Hilty - Missouri & Arkansas

    PDF Report
    ...We concluded the trip with an exciting morning in the Eleven Point River campground— Swainson’s Warblers chipping and singing, along with American Redstarts, a Prothonotary Warbler, and a Wilson’s Warbler...
  • 2019 [05 May] - Steve Hilty - Missouri & Arkansas

    PDF Report
    ...Birding in Prairie State Park was excellent with resident breeders such as Dickcissels, Brown Thrashers, Bell’s Vireos, and a lovely little Henslow’s Sparrow much in evidence. We also saw a Sedge Wren briefly and found reasonably good floral diversity—Yellow Star Grass, Shooting Stars, Wood Betony, Rose Verbena, False Garlic, and Cream Wild Indigo...
Places to Stay
  • Cedarcroft Farm B&B

    RELAX in a thermal massage tub next to a real wood-burning fireplace, extensive snack, special gifts, full breakfast; it`s not your imagination of what a B&B should offer, it`s Cedarcroft`s Cottage on the Knoll! There`s a king-size canopy bed, assorted popular movies, satellite television, watching the birds and other wildlife from the front porch glider swing. Or stroll through our 80 secluded acres
  • Cinnamon Hill B&B

    Spacious comfortable home located on wooded site within walking distance of Table Rock lake. Watch the birds while a large country breakfast is served…
Other Links
  • Greater Prairie chicken

    A minimum of 4,000 to 5,000 acres of open grassland is believed necessary to support a stable population. As a result, several well managed farms are normally required to provide adequate acreage for a self-sustaining flock…
  • Missouri Birds

    Website serves the backyard bird enthusiast of Missouri. If you enjoy feeding and watching birds in your yard or local park then we hope to provide you with information to enhance the enjoyment of your hobby
  • Sky Cafe

    Bird food and feeders etc
  • Conservation Conversations

    Last update 2012 - Reflections on environmental education, wildlife issues, and birds; primarily of Southwest Missouri…
  • Dodson F@rm

    I am Jack Dodson. My wife, Lorraine, and I and our three children live on a farm in the middle of Missouri. We love nature and are working towards restoring our sixty acres to a more native state. We also have a “bluebird trail” which is a collection of nest boxes or bird houses for bluebirds and other native cavity dwelling birds. I am an amateur photographer and wanted a place to share my experiences and photographs….thus this blog is born.
  • World Bird Sanctuary

    Last updated 2015 - Our mission is to preserve the earth’s biological diversity and to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. We work to fulfill that mission through education, captive breeding, field studies and rehabilitation…

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