Always Coming Home

Published on: Jul. 15, 2013

By being engaged in continental-scale bird conservation, the Conservation Department’s research and science — honed in the wet­lands, forests, riverways, prairies, and farms of Missouri — assists with conservation efforts throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“Missouri is certainly a leader among states in studying the needs of migratory birds and planning and implementing conservation for them,” says Frank Thompson, a U.S. Forest Service research scientist and University of Missouri professor. Thompson collaborates with MOFEP investigators on research that supports bird conservation.

“The Conservation Department is a valuable partner in both contributing to basic avian research and actively engaging both with national and international bird conservation partners. Not many other states support wild­life research or conservation activities outside their borders to the degree that Missouri does,” Thompson says.

This work is important because bird popula­tions don’t exist solely in Missouri, they are part of a regional population. “Keeping them here in healthy numbers depends on what’s going on around us,” Thompson says. “Many of these birds face two challenges. One is breeding habi­tat loss and fragmentation in the United States, which requires regional approaches to conser­vation. Another big threat is what’s affecting their overwinter survival, such as converting needed habitat to agriculture, habitat fragmen­tation, and growing human populations. These birds face great hazards in both southern and northern migration, and we need to promote conservation on their wintering grounds and migratory routes.”

Keeping Our Birds Coming Home

The Conservation Department works with Mis­sourians to help provide migratory birds with good habitat and a better chance for survival. An estimated 1.6 million Missourians and nonresi­dents spend an estimated 181.2 million days bird­watching in Missouri. They observe about 335 bird species every year in the state, 170 of which raise their young here. More than 80 of those species leave the state during the non-breeding season, including 54 that leave the United States, spending eight months in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, returning each spring to nest throughout Missouri.

By being good stewards of our birds and their habitats in Missouri, it benefits us all. Each of Missouri’s migratory bird species links us to our southern neighbors who enjoy and care for these birds for much of the year, as well. We are all connected as distant neighbors. Perhaps some day, you can visit our birds on their win­tering range in Honduras, or even Argentina, and thank those conservation-minded distant neighbors

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