Missouri and its Birds

  • White-crowned Sparrow
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Horned Grebe
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Northern Cardinal
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Scarlet Tanager
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Snowy Egret
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Snowy Owl
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Prairie Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Mourning Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Red Crossbill
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Common Yellowthroat
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Cape May Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Green-winged Teal
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Field Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Eastern Bluebird
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Purple Finch
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Nelson's Sparrow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Carolina Wren
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Blue-winged Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Green Heron
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Northern Shoveler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
    Photo by Al Smith
  • American Bittern
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • American Avocet
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Harris's Sparrow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Peregrine Falcon
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Bald Eagle
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Rusty Blackbird
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Le Conte's Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • American Kestrel
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Yellow Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Barn Swallow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Kentucky Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Bobolink
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Dickcissel
    Photo by Al Smith
  • American Redstart
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Indigo Bunting
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Hudsonian Godwit
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Black-bellied Plover
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Swamp Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Baltimore Oriole
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Canada Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Lincoln's Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Cedar Waxwing
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Cape May Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Snowy Owl
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Black-and-white Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • American Tree Sparrow
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Bonaparte's Gull
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Painted Bunting
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Blackburnian Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Blue Grosbeak
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Palm Warbler
    Photo by Peter Kondrashov
  • Ring-billed Gull
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Bay-breasted Warbler
    Photo by Andy Reago/Chrissy McClarren
  • Summer Tanager
    Photo by Jason Harrison
  • Hooded Warbler
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Wood Thrush
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo
    Photo by Al Smith
  • Golden-winged 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!