Missouri and its Birds

  • Northern Shoveler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Dickcissel
    Photo by Al Smith
  • American Redstart
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Hudsonian Godwit
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • American Tree Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Barn Swallow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • White-crowned Sparrow
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Green-winged Teal
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Baltimore Oriole
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Blackburnian Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Common Yellowthroat
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Scarlet Tanager
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Northern Cardinal
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Palm Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Snowy Owl
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • American Avocet
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Nelson's Sparrow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Snowy Egret
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Bald Eagle
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Bobolink
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Red Crossbill
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • American Bittern
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Peregrine Falcon
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Rusty Blackbird
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Cape May Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Bay-breasted Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Snowy Owl
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Black-and-white Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Harris's Sparrow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Mourning Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Bonaparte's Gull
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Prairie Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Canada Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Field Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Green Heron
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Cape May Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Wood Thrush
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Golden-winged Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Horned Grebe
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Eastern Bluebird
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Blue-winged Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Black-bellied Plover
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Indigo Bunting
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Summer Tanager
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Lincoln's Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • American Kestrel
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Painted Bunting
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Blue Grosbeak
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Le Conte's Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Carolina Wren
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Yellow Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Cedar Waxwing
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Hooded Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Swamp Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Purple Finch
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Ring-billed Gull
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Kentucky Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
Missouri lies in the middle of the great North American heartland, with a fauna that reflects influences from all directions. Being east of center, our state will always fall within the “eastern” volume of any two-volume field guide; yet one can feel a pull from the West at the sight of a Swainson’s Hawk or a Greater Roadrunner…or a Collared Lizard on a cedar glade. Missouri is also equidistant from the Canadian border and the Gulf coast, so that we have such nesting birds as Swainson’s Warbler and Painted Bunting in the southernmost counties, and Mississippi Kite more widely, while winter visitors like Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawk, and Glaucous Gull are regular in the more northerly parts.

Missouri’s topography is defined mainly by rolling farmland with remnant prairie to the north and west, and the forested Ozarks and the flat alluvial plain in the south and southeast. These habitats make the state a haven both for woodland species like Cerulean Warbler and for open-country birds like Dickcissel. The Mississippi River, forming the eastern border, and the Missouri River, which bisects the state, offer migration corridors and stopover locations for waterfowl, shorebirds, larids, raptors, and landbirds, as do several large National Wildlife Refuges and an abundance of state Conservation Areas.

With this strategic location and diverse terrain, Missouri has a healthy bird list of 434 species; this includes five that are extinct, three others that formerly lived here but have been extirpated, and 11 that are provisional. As in every state, many of our listed birds are accidental or casual visitors; these amount to another 80 or more, leaving us with about 330 regular birds that are seen annually somewhere in the state. The Annotated Checklist is a great resource to help you pin down where and when you might find Missouri’s birds, and how likely they might be. Have fun birding!