Bring binoculars and field guides to explore this Kansas City region conservation area, where you’re sure to see and hear plenty of Missouri birds and wildlife. Birdsong Conservation Area (CA), which occupies 430 acres in Saint Clair County, offers a diverse abundance of wildlife habitat.
Consisting mostly of forest and woodland, Birdsong CA also includes scattered portions of oak savannas and woodlands with expanses of dolomite glade on the thin bluffs along Brush Creek. A 125-acre savanna unit containing glades, woodlands, and fields dominates the area’s southeastern portion.
Brush Creek, which flows through the west-central section of Birdsong CA, supports such high-quality habitat and diverse species that 26 acres surrounding the creek have been designated as Brush Creek Natural Area (NA). Forty-one fish species have been recorded in the natural area; fishes such as large golden redhorses, longear sunfish, northern hog suckers, Ozark minnows, bleeding shiners, striped fantails, and rainbow darters can be admired by snorkeling, a common pastime at Brush Creek NA.
Three fish species of conservation concern have been documented at Brush Creek NA. The brook lamprey, blacknose shiner, and Niangua darter benefit from the stable stream habitat maintained by the Conservation Department. This part of Brush Creek is listed as critical habitat for the federally endangered Niangua darter, although its population in the creek appears sparse, as the species has gone undetected here for nearly two decades. The importance of Brush Creek NA for species like these is that it allows their essential habitats to develop.
Brush Creek offers fishing opportunities for bass and sunfish, while Birdsong CA presents hunting prospects for deer, turkey, and small game. Access trails allow visitors to explore the area on foot while viewing birds and wildlife.
Area managers maintain Birdsong CA’s natural attributes using various techniques. Efforts to restore native grassland are underway and include tree removal and prescribed burning. Additionally, managers have planted several acres of riparian forest buffers to accompany those already present along Brush Creek. Ten percent of crops on the area are left standing in the fields to provide food for wildlife.
Birdsong CA is located west of Collins and can be reached by traveling 2.5 miles south on Route J from Highway 54. For more information, visit the website listed below.
—Rebecca Maples, photo by David Stonner
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler