Always Coming Home
residents like rabbits, quail, turkeys, and deer.”
Restoring Missouri’s Best Habitats
The Conservation Department actively manages habitat on thousands of acres throughout the state. “Many of the conservation areas where the Department is restoring bottomland forests along riverways, such as at Donaldson Point, Four Rivers, and Black Island, benefit migratory birds, not to mention all of the other wetlands the Department manages for many migratory birds and waterfowl,” says Mike Leahy, the Department’s natural areas coordinator.
“Also, our bigger conservation areas, such as Sunklands, Angeline, and Peck Ranch provide extensive areas where many songbirds come to breed each summer,” Leahy says.
The Conservation Department works with Missourians to conserve Missouri’s best remaining examples of a wide variety of habitats, such as wetlands, glades, prairies, and forests, which all meet specific habitat needs for a variety of migratory birds. Not only are they important for wildlife, they are also great places for Missourians to get out and birdwatch.
Learning More About Our Birds
Deep in Missouri’s Ozark forests, researcher Paul Porneluzi studies songbirds that migrate to Missouri’s forests to breed and raise their young, as well as those that use Missouri’s forests as stopover habitat on their way to somewhere else.
“Missouri’s Ozarks are home to an incredible diversity of birds that come here to nest. Ovenbirds, Acadian flycatchers, yellow-breasted chats, hooded warblers, white-eyed vireos, prairie warblers, the list goes on and on,” says Porneluzi, a Central Methodist University biology professor and a lead researcher for the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project’s (MOFEP) neotropical migrant bird study, funded by the Conservation Department.
Porneluzi’s studies show that active management of Missouri’s forests can benefit more bird species. “Many of these birds require mature forest and some of them require the dense, shrubby habitat that grows in the openings after a timber harvest. After about seven years, those young trees are too tall for shrub-nesting birds, so the trick is to find the right balance for sustainable timber harvest. If you just have mature forest and don’t harvest, you don’t have a lot of these birds.”
MOFEP is the longest running study of its kind in the nation, using the Ozark forests as a research lab to better understand how a wide variety of fish and wildlife respond to different tree harvest and forest management techniques. For more information on this project, visit mofep.mdc.mo.gov.