by Larry Archer
Area rewards birders pursuing the prairie’s early birds.
If the early bird gets the worm, then it should surprise no one that the early bird-watcher at Hi Lonesome Prairie Conservation Area (CA) would likewise be rewarded.
For birders, the “worm” would be the upland sandpiper, an uncommon find outside Missouri’s remnant prairies, said Wildlife Management Biologist Joe Coy, Hi Lonesome Prairie CA manager. In addition to the sandpiper, the 655- acre area in Benton County also hosts a number of other species.
“We have a whole suite of other bird species that use the prairie,” Coy said. “We’ve got a lot of grasshopper sparrows, Henslow’s sparrows, and loggerhead shrikes.”
Named for the customary greeting of cowboys working the wide-open prairies of centuries past, Hi Lonesome Prairie CA’s open grassland attracts many Neotropicals and other migratory species, Coy said. Controlled burning and grazing keeps the area reminiscent of the habitat that once covered most of western Missouri.
And what does the not-so-early bird-watcher get? Hot and sunburned in this nearly shadeless habitat, so Coy suggests arriving early.
“Definitely morning times, the birds — everything — will be way more active, and it’s a lot more pleasant,” he said. “It gets hot out there in the middle of summer.”
Hi Lonseome Prairie Conservation Area consists of 655 acres in Benton County. From Cole Camp, take Highway 52 west 1 mile, and then Klink Avenue north ½ mile. N38° 28’ 26.07” | W93° 13’ 59.94” short.mdc.mo.gov/Zqm 660-530-5500
Included in the National Audubon Society’s Cole Camp Prairies Important Bird Area. The eBird list of birds recorded at Hi Lonesome Prairie CA is available at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZqP.
Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey booklets for current regulations. Also dove, quail, and rabbit.
“Something we see pretty regularly are prairie kingsnakes. About every species of prairie snake that you can think of for the most part that’s native to central Missouri, they’re pretty much there.”
—Hi Lonesome Prairie CA Manager Joe Coy
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