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Returning Birds

May 17, 2010

A couple of beautiful bird species are returning to Missouri now after spending the winter in areas to the south of us. Both are unfamiliar enough to many residents to prompt questions when they are sighted. I’ve heard from several folks in the last week who have seen them.

Rose-breasted grosbeaksRose-breasted grosbeaks (Pheucticus ludovicianus) spent the winter in Central and South America. They are found in Missouri from mid-April through mid-October each year. While the birds commonly spend their summers in north Missouri, it is uncommon to find them breeding in the Ozarks. Residents of central and southern Missouri may see rose-breasted grosbeaks for a few days in spring or fall as they migrate to and from their breeding areas. They feed on insects as well as plant buds and fruits and will visit bird feeders for seeds. The male bird is pictured.

Painted buntingsPainted buntings (Passerina ciris) have been described as the most gaudily colored American bird. They are arriving in southwestern Missouri this month after wintering from southern Louisiana and Florida into the tropics. In Missouri, they will mostly breed in southwestern counties but occasional pairs will move further into the state. Last summer, a pair was observed during the summer in Jefferson City. They prefer thickets on glades and old fields where they forages for insects and seeds. The male bird is pictured.

I hope you’ll be lucky enough to see one or both of these birds this year. For more information on both species, including recordings of their calls, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at the links above.

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