The great migration of birds to warmer winter places has begun. I can’t say I’ve actually seen much of it because those 100-degree days we had last week didn’t exactly draw me out to search the trees and ponds. But now that temperatures are easing back, there’s no excuse for staying inside.
According to Brad Jacobs, Missouri Department of Conservation ornithologist, a good website to learn what others are seeing out there is the Audubon Society of Missouri’s http://www.mobirds.org/. You can also learn more at http://ebird.org/content/ebird/, a site by National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Two big categories of birds might interest you: the land birds and the shorebirds. Land birds such as warblers will come through in the fall and their numbers peak in mid-September. They’re not as colorful as in the spring and it’s tough to see them as they feed for caterpillars in the trees that still have leaves. Places to look include woods, local parks, etc. Early morning is best because they are more vocal then (so at least if you can’t see them, you can hear them).
If you’re not into the little birds in the trees, there are still the spectacular wetland areas filled with shorebirds. Their numbers peak at the end of August/first week of September. A few places to go include Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Northwest Missouri, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary along the Mississippi north of St. Louis at West Alton or Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area near Columbia at MacBaine. Most dabbler ducks (like the teal that are just starting to come through) will peak by mid-October.