Bird Habitats


Missouri birds use five general habitats: grasslands, towns and backyards, shrubby areas, forests and wetlands.



These are open areas, such as pastures, hayfields and native prairies that are dominated by grass. Typically, fences, power lines, and a few shrubs and trees provide perches.

Birds include killdeers, eastern kingbirds, horned larks, eastern bluebirds, dickcissels, vesper sparrows and grasshopper sparrows, eastern and western meadowlarks, red-winged blackbirds and American goldfinches. Often you may see red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, mourning doves, and barn swallows in flight over grasslands.

Prairie Grasslands
Grasslands can have pastures, hayfields, and native prairies that are dominated by grasses.

Towns and Backyards

This habitat is characterized by lawns, gardens, scattered trees, hedges, shrubs, houses, high-rises, grain elevators, and warehouses.

Familiar occupants are rock and mourning doves, common nighthawks, chimney swifts, hummingbirds, phoebes, purple martins, house wrens, mockingbirds, robins, starlings, cardinals, chipping sparrows, Baltimore orioles, and house sparrows.

Backyard landscaped with native plants and tree
Backyards make a perfect habitat for easy bird watching.

Shrubby Areas

This habitat is densely vegetated, often with small trees, brush, weeds, briars and vines.

Familiar occupants include Carolina wrens, gray catbirds, brown thrashers, white-eyed vireos, blue-winged warblers, prairie warblers, common yellowthroats, yellow-breasted chats, American tree sparrows, field and song sparrows.

Example of shrubby areas
Shrubby areas are densely vegetated, often with small trees, brush, and weeds.


Birds favoring large forests include pileated woodpeckers, wood thrushes, ovenbirds and scarlet tanagers; those associated with the understory include Acadian flycatchers, Kentucky warblers and American redstarts; and those associated with the forested river's edge include red-shouldered hawks, northern parulas and cerulean warblers.

Example of forest habitat for birds.
Forests are densely populated with trees.


Wetlands may have shallow water for dabbling ducks and waders, which might include teal, egrets and herons; mud flats for shorebirds, such as sandpipers and plovers; and open water for terns, gulls and diving ducks, including scaup and mergansers. Marshes accommodate bitterns, rails and red-winged blackbirds, and forested shores play host to Louisiana waterthrushes and green herons.

Example of wetland habitat for birds.
Wetlands consists of shallow water perfect for ducks and waders.
Statistics Elements

This page is an excerpt from Enjoying Missouri Birds, by Wilson and Jackson, a free publication from MDC's Distribution Center. To order your free copy, email sends e-mail) and ask for publication number W00002.