Lakes, Ponds, and Reservoirs

Nevada Izaak Walton Lake

Bodies of standing water — lakes, ponds, and reservoirs — have characteristics that separate them from streams, rivers, marshes, and wetlands. Learning about them helps you understand the plants and animals that live in them.

Lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, as aquatic habitats, are quite distinct from rivers, creeks, and streams. The biggest distinction is that they are inland basins where water does not flow — there isn’t a current. Their special characteristics and processes make them home to certain kinds of plants and animals not found in flowing water.

Missouri’s lakes, ponds, and reservoirs give us opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, waterskiing, and many more forms of recreation. Think of some of the things they offer:

  • They provide a cool respite on hot summer days.
  • In pastures and in natural areas, ponds provide water for livestock and wild game.
  • Small, fishless ponds — sometimes existing only in springtime — are crucial habitat for frogs and salamanders, whose delicate eggs must be laid in water.
  • Our larger lakes are income-generating tourist destinations.
  • Our reservoirs help protect our lands from flooding, and turbines within their dams generate electricity.

Defining Ponds, Lakes, and Reservoirs

Ponds

Ponds, of course, are smaller than lakes. Ponds are typically so small and shallow that rooted plants may grow at any point across the bottom. Also, the water temperature in ponds is mostly the same from the top to the bottom, and it fluctuates along with the air temperature. The amount of dissolved oxygen can vary a great deal over the course of a day. Wave action is negligible, and plants encircle the shoreline.

Lakes

Lakes are larger than ponds and are deep enough that rooted plants are restricted to shallower portions near the shore. The temperature is fairly consistent over time, as a larger volume of water is slower to fluctuate. During summer and winter, our larger lakes stratify, developing layers of water having different temperatures at different depths. The different layers mix very little with each other. In spring and fall, when the surface water temperature approaches that of the deeper water, our larger lakes experience turnover, a top-to-bottom mixing of previously stratified water. Within the course of a day, the amount of dissolved oxygen stays relatively stable in a lake. The larger surface area catches wind, and the greater depth allows wave action to develop. Wave action, in turn, often creates sandy or rocky shorelines with few aquatic plants, usually on the side of the lake furthest from the prevailing winds.

Reservoirs

Reservoirs, or impoundments, are lakes created when people block the flow of a stream by constructing a dam. The stream flow is arrested, and water pools up behind the dam and fills in the valleys or other low areas where the stream once had flowed. The dams of large public reservoirs have turbines within them for generating electricity, and engineers can adjust the amount of water allowed to flow through them at any particular time, responding to flood threats or drought conditions.

The Study of Lakes — Limnology

You’ve probably heard of oceanography (the study of oceans), but have you heard of limnology? Limnology (lim-NOLL-ogee) is the study of inland waters. Unlike oceanography, limnology focuses on freshwater bodies (especially lakes and ponds) as opposed to saltwater seas and brackish estuaries. Limnology encompasses physics, chemistry, geology, physical geography, soil science, hydrology, biology, and ecology. What happens in lakes is important not only for aquatic plants and animals but also for public health, public use, groundwater quality, fisheries, and many species of wildlife that come to lakes for habitat and drinking water.

If you are wondering why a lake or pond is green with algae, or is colored a murky red, or is crystal clear, you might be surprised by how complex the answer might be. Lakes, ponds, and reservoirs are made and influenced by the lands where they are located. Water characteristics such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, hardness, dissolved solids, and so on are crucial for determining what’s going on in a pond or lake. These factors are influenced by types of soils, bedrock, drainage patterns, land use, nutrients (including fertilizers), and more.

Limnologists have useful careers, improving fisheries and water quality around the world, helping landowners, land managers, and public policy officials make good decisions.

How Lakes Form Naturally

What makes a lake? First, let’s take a global perspective — lakes can form in many ways:

  • By volcanoes, when water collects in the crater left behind after volcanoes explode (for example, Crater Lake in Oregon)
  • By the wind, when it scours a hole in the landscape (think of the wide, flat, round, shallow depressions in the southern high plains, which become lakes and wetlands during the rainy season)
  • By land subsidence due to faults and earthquakes (such as Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, created by the New Madrid earthquake in the late 1800s)
  • By landslides, when they block a river valley and the backed-up water behind it becomes a lake (Quake Lake, in Montana, was created in 1959 when an earthquake caused a huge landslide to block the Madison River)
  • By the action of glaciers — for example, many lakes to our north were formed when big chunks of ice, trapped among the rubble left behind when a glacier retreated, melted and left a hole in which water collected (examples range from the Great Lakes to thousands of small “kettle” or “pothole” lakes in Minnesota, Iowa, and other glaciated northern lands)
  • By the force of waterfalls, which can carve a hole into the ground, creating a “plunge pool” lake that persists even if the stream changes its course (Dry Falls, in the state of Washington, is an example)
  • By beavers (“America’s original Army Corps of Engineers”), when they block stream valleys with their dams and create ponds and lakes (beavers in Missouri, however, typically live in burrows along stream banks).

But in Missouri, the above processes are negligible. Our natural lakes are formed mainly by karst topography and by the movement of rivers creating oxbows. Additionally, the scouring action of floods, as we saw recently in 1993 and 1995, can create ponds called blue (or blew) holes.

Missouri’s karst topography, responsible for the many caves and springs in the Ozark region, creates natural sinkhole ponds and lakes. Missouri has many examples of these karst-made ponds and lakes. How does this work? One of the hallmarks of karst geology is that slightly acidic ground water gradually dissolves limestone bedrock as it seeps downward along cracks and crevices. Over time, these crevices widen to form springs and caves. Eventually as caves get larger, the roofs of caves can collapse, creating sinkholes on the surface of the land. When the bottoms of the sinkholes are clogged with surface debris, water collects in these bowl-shaped depressions and creates sinkhole ponds and lakes.

Oxbow lakes occur when, over a long period of time, a river meanders widely in S-shaped curves over its floodplain. Eventually, one of the curves becomes so tight that the river creates a more direct path, cutting off the loop. The cut-off section can persist as a curved oxbow lake. As time goes on, the oxbow lake gradually becomes marshy, filling in with soil, rocks, and plants, and eventually becomes another part of the floodplain. Prime examples include Big Lake (Holt County), Cut-Off Lake (Chariton County), and Creve Coeur Lake (St. Louis County), which were all were once part of the Missouri River.

Scour holes, or blue (or blew) holes, are another type of nature-made lake. We see them in Missouri after major floods, where water has poured forcefully through a constricted break in a levee (or road, or similar construction) and scoured a bowl-shaped depression (a plunge pool) into the soil, which fills with water and persists as a lake. The people who call these “blue holes” think of them in terms of the blueness of water or of the blue sky reflected on the surface. People who call them “blew holes” base their spelling on the fact that “this is where the levee blew.” Many of these were created along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers after the epic floods of 1993 and 1995.

Sometimes, to save some areas from flooding, civil engineers blow up levees in lower-priority areas during floods to save some higher-priority areas from flooding. Bird’s Blue Hole, in Mississippi County, is an example.

Human-Made Lakes and Ponds

Many people have declared that “Missouri doesn’t have any natural lakes.” This is because they discount the many scour holes, oxbow lakes, and karst-made lakes described just above. But indeed, the lakes and ponds most of Missourians visit are indeed “human-made.”

Our many large reservoirs are major public projects implemented for recreation, flood control, hydroelectric power, cooling of coal-fired power plants, and aesthetics. They are a boon for Missouri tourism. Large concrete dams are built in strategic places in rivers, backing up (impounding) the water behind them, flooding the river valley upstream of the dam and turning it into a lake. We must all acknowledge that as useful as they are for our needs, these projects had great costs for many fish and other species whose natural movements up and down rivers are permanently interrupted by the presence of a dam and enormous pool of non-flowing water.

Many smaller reservoirs appear throughout the state, usually constructed by earthen dams. Many city park lakes were created this way, and they provide people with opportunities for exercise, relaxation, and recreation. As with other reservoirs, property managers and owners need to keep an eye on the dams, making sure they are in good shape and won’t fail.

On a much smaller scale, farm ponds are created by people for aesthetics, fishing, and farm use. Being small and surrounded by agricultural land, the water conditions of these ponds can quickly fluctuate due to soil and nutrient runoff from the land. Where their shorelines are trampled by cattle and runoff-filtering vegetation cannot grow, they can be little more than a muddy basin. Meanwhile, well-managed farm ponds can be attractive places for fishing, bird watching, swimming, and maybe a little canoeing.

Missouri's Public Lakes and Ponds

Hundreds of ponds and lakes exist on public lands administrated by MDC, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (including state parks), the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and many cities and towns. Some of the best known are these:

  • Big Lake
  • Blue Springs Lake
  • Bull Shoals Lake
  • Clearwater Lake
  • Council Bluff Lake
  • Harry S. Truman Lake
  • Long Branch Lake
  • Mark Twain Lake
  • Norfork Lake
  • Lake of the Ozarks
  • Pomme de Terre Lake
  • Lake Saint Louis
  • Smithville Lake
  • Lake Springfield
  • Stockton Lake
  • Table Rock Lake
  • Lake Taneycomo
  • Lake Wappapello

Pond Management

Browse these pages for information on caring for your pond. 

Media
Photo of lotus in pool at Duck Creek CA
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nelumbo lutea
Description
American lotus is an aquatic plant with circular leaves that are held above water. The large yellow flowers have an interesting showerhead-like disk at the center.
Media
Photo of several cattail flowering stalks
Species Types
Scientific Name
Typha spp.
Description
Missouri’s cattails are all tall wetland plants with narrow, upright leaves emerging from a thick base, and a central stalk bearing a brown, sausage-shaped flower spike.
Media
Photo of various duckweeds and watermeal on water surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lemna spp.; Spirodella spp.; Wolffia spp.
Description
Duckweeds are the smallest of the flowering plants. They consist of tiny, green, round, leaflike bodies that float on the water’s surface. They are an important food for waterfowl.
Media
Photo of hairy rose mallow flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hibiscus lasiocarpos
Description
Hibiscus in Missouri? You bet! Hairy rose mallow is a native perennial whose 6-inch-wide blossoms look a lot like those of its tropical relatives. The stalks can get woody and can grow to 8 feet tall.
Media
Photo of path rush, closeup showing drying fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Juncus spp. and Luzula spp.
Description
Missouri has 24 species in the rush family. Distinguishing between these grasslike plants can be tricky, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Photo of eastern woodland sedge plant growing among leaf litter.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carex, Schoenoplectus, Scirpus, and other genera
Description
Missouri has more than 200 species in the sedge family. Distinguishing between these grasslike plants can be difficult, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Photo of swamp milkweed, three plants with flower clusters.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asclepias incarnata
Description
Swamp milkweed has pink flower clusters at the tips of its tall stalks. The leaves are opposite, narrow, and up to 6 inches long. It grows in moist bottomland soils.
Media
Photo of water shield showing leaves and a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Brasenia schreberi
Description
Water shield is a long-stemmed aquatic plant with floating oval leaves that resemble small water lily leaves, only without a split. The stems and lower leaf surfaces have a thick, jellylike coating.
Media
Illustration of cottonwood leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Populus deltoides
Description
Named for the cottony fluffs of hairs attached to its tiny seeds, cottonwood thrives in moist lowlands near streams and rivers. It is Missouri’s fastest-growing native tree but pays for that distinction by being relatively short-lived.
Media
Illustration of sycamore leaves and fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Platanus occidentalis
Description
The white, smooth-looking limbs of sycamore rise over countless streams and river banks, as well as over sidewalks and city streets. The leaves, which somewhat resemble those of maples, can reach remarkably large sizes.
Media
willow
Species Types
Scientific Name
Salix spp. (about 12 species in Missouri)
Description
Exotic willows are available at lawn and garden centers, but there are several willow species that are native to Missouri. Most are rather humble colonizers of gravel bars, riverbanks, and lakesides. Many are important for human economic interests. All have a place in our wild ecosystems.
Media
pond mussel
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bivalve molluscs in order Unionoida
Description
Secretive and seldom seen, freshwater mussels are extraordinarily diverse in Missouri. We have nearly 70 species within our borders. Many are declining, and several are endangered.
Media
Photo of a spothanded crayfish viewed from above on white background.
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 36 species in Missouri
Description
Crayfish are freshwater aquatic invertebrates that look a lot like small lobsters, to which they are related. There are about 36 species of crayfish in Missouri.
Media
Two Chinese mysterysnails, out of water, resting on a white surface, with a ruler nearby for scale
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata (syn. Bellamya chinensis)
Description
The Chinese mysterysnail is a nonnative invasive species quickly taking over urban waters throughout the state. Never release aquarium species or aquarium water into natural aquatic habitats. Learn about and practice clean boating techniques so that you do not accidentally spread invasive aquatic species.
Media
Photo of crane fly larva
Species Types
Scientific Name
There are over 500 species of crane flies in North America.
Description
Crane fly larvae are tan or gray grubs that live in aquatic habitats or in moist places on the ground. The harmless adults resemble huge mosquitoes.
Media
Photo of a damselfly nymph on rocks in an aquarium.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the suborder Zygoptera
Description
Damselfly larvae are narrow-bodied aquatic insects with large eyes, six thin legs, and three paddle-shaped, tail-like gills at the hind end.
Media
Photo of a dragonfly larva resting on a stone.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the suborder Anisoptera
Description
Dragonfly larvae are aquatic insects with large eyes, six legs, and an oval or rounded segmented abdomen. The lower jaws are scooplike and cover much of the lower part of the head.
Media
Photo of a giant water bug
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the genera Abedus, Belostoma, and Lethocerus
Description
Giant water bugs are huge aquatic insects that frequently fly around electric lights at night. They are infamous for the painful bite they can deliver, but fish, birds — and some people — find them tasty!
Media
Photo of hellgrammite
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corydalus cornutus
Description
Hellgrammites are the aquatic larval form of eastern dobsonflies. They are fiercely predaceous and look a little like centipedes. Anglers often use them as bait.
Media
Photo of a deer fly larva, probably in a petri dish, on a gray background.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tabanus, Chrysops, and related genera
Description
The larvae of horse and deer flies are fairly straight, segmented, wormlike maggots that are tan, whitish, or brownish. They are aquatic or live in mud, and most are predaceous.
Media
Photo of a leech
Species Types
Scientific Name
Various species in the subclass Hirudinea
Description
Who isn't repulsed by leeches! Yet once you get past the fact that many species are parasitic bloodsuckers, you will discover that they are fascinating creatures.
Media
image of a Midge
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 1,100 species in North America
Description
Midges are dainty flies that resemble mosquitoes. They often dance together in the air in huge swarms. Unlike their problematic cousins, they are harmless and do not bite.
Media
mosquito resting on a white fabric
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 50 species of mosquitoes in Missouri
Description
Mosquitoes are small flies that look a lot like their cousins in the fly family, the crane flies and midges. Female mosquitoes, however, drink blood from vertebrate animals.
Media
Water boatman viewed from above
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 125 species in North America in the family Corixidae
Description
Water boatmen are one of the few aquatic true bugs that are not predatory and do not bite people. Instead, they suck juices from algae and detritus. Only a few types eat other small aquatic creatures.
Media
Black crappie, male in spawning colors, side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pomoxis nigromaculatus
Description
The black crappie is a popular panfish. It is deep bodied and slab sided. The sides are silver with an irregular pattern of dark speckles. The upper jaw is long, reaching past the middle of the eye.
Media
Blue catfish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ictalurus furcatus
Description
The blue catfish is a big-river fish, preferring swift chutes, pools with noticeable current, and silt-free substrates. In Missouri, it's most common in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Osage rivers.
Media
Bluegill male in spawning colors, side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lepomis macrochirus
Description
The bluegill is one of the most abundant and popular panfishes in North America. This deep-bodied, slab-sided sunfish sports a black “ear flap” extending from the edge of its gill cover.
Media
Bowfin side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Amia calva
Description
The bowfin is a stout-bodied, nearly cylindrical fish. It is most abundant in the Mississippi Lowlands, though it occurs along the entire length of the Mississippi River.
Media
Channel catfish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ictalurus punctatus
Description
The channel catfish is the official Missouri state fish. It is pale with dark spots and is found statewide in a variety of habitats, preferring large, rather turbid streams with low or moderate gradients.
Media
Freshwater drum side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Aplodinotus grunniens
Description
The freshwater drum is a silvery, deep-bodied fish with a distinct humpbacked appearance. It occurs in large rivers, lakes, and impoundments over most of Missouri.
Media
Green sunfish male, side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lepomis cyanellus
Description
The green sunfish is thick-bodied with a large mouth. The upper jaw extends to about the middle of the eye. It may occur in just about any pond, lake, or stream that is capable of supporting fish life.
Media
Largemouth bass side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Micropterous salmoides
Description
The largemouth bass is a popular game fish that occurs statewide. It thrives in warm, moderately clear waters with little or no current: lakes, permanent pools of streams, and quiet backwaters of large rivers.
Media
Muskellunge side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Esox masquinongy
Description
The muskellunge is long and slender, with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. This big, nonnative pike is stocked in selected lakes in the Ozark region and near St. Louis.
Media
Northern pike side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Esox lucius
Description
The largest pike native to Missouri, the northern pike can be more than 4 feet long and weigh more than 40 pounds. Missouri is on the southern edge of the range of this species. Because of its rarity here, it is of little importance as a game fish.
Media
Paddlefish side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polyodon spathula
Description
Like a small shark, the paddlefish nearly lacks scales and has a cartilaginous skeleton; like a baleen whale, it filters its dinner from the water. But no other fish alive today has a paddle for a snout.
Media
Walleye side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sander vitreus
Description
MDC has been stocking walleye, a popular game fish, in lakes and reservoirs including Stockton, Lake of the Ozarks, Bull Shoals, and numerous other reservoirs.
Media
Image of a spotted salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma maculatum
Description
A dancing salamander? Hundreds of them all at once? In the water? That’s how spotted salamanders create their next generation, in only a few springtime evenings each year.
Media
Photo of a central newt adult on a plastic aquarium plant.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis
Description
A small, olive-brown salamander with a fascinating life cycle, the central newt lives in and around woodland ponds and swamps in all but our far northwestern counties.
Media
Image of a green treefrog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hyla cinerea
Description
The bright green treefrog hides perfectly among cattail leaves, where it rests until evening. Then it begins hunting for insects.
Media
Spring Peeper
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pseudacris crucifer
Description
The voices of spring peepers are a true announcement that winter is ending. These small, slender frogs can be several overall colors, but seeing an X on the back is a good way to ensure your identification.
Media
Photo of a snapping turtle walking on land with algae on shell.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chelydra serpentina
Description
A large aquatic turtle with a big pointed head, long thick tail, and small lower shell, the snapping turtle is common throughout the state, anywhere there is permanent water.
Media
Eastern musk turtle (stinkpot)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sternotherus odoratus
Description
The eastern musk turtle is one of the world’s smallest turtles. It has a dark, domed upper shell and reduced lower shell. It occurs along our Mississippi River counties and in the southern two-thirds of the state.
Media
painted turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysemys picta bellii
Description
The western painted turtle is a small semiaquatic turtle. It has a smooth upper shell with a red-orange outer edge. The lower shell is red-orange with a prominent pattern of brown markings. It is found nearly everywhere in the state except the southeast region.
Media
Image of a red-eared slider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trachemys scripta elegans
Description
An attractive turtle with yellow pinstripes and red ears, this species is commonly seen basking on logs or rocks—until you get too close, and they slide into the water.
Media
Image of a broad-banded watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia fasciata confluens
Description
The broad-banded watersnake is a beautiful semiaquatic snake with broad, irregularly shaped bands that can be brown, red-brown, or black and are separated by yellow and gray. This nonvenomous species is restricted to the southeastern corner of the state.
Media
Photo of a northern watersnake rearing back in grass on land.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia sipedon sipedon
Description
The northern watersnake is gray to reddish brown with dark brown crossbands. The belly is cream-colored with black and reddish half-moon markings. This is Missouri’s most common watersnake.
Media
Image of a yellow-bellied watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia erythrogaster
Description
The plain-bellied watersnake is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, dark-colored, semiaquatic snake with a plain yellow belly. It is found throughout southeastern Missouri and north along the Mississippi River floodplain.
Media
Eastern gartersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
Description
The eastern gartersnake is Missouri's most common gartersnake. The color is variable (dark brown, greenish, or olive), but there are normally three yellowish stripes, one down the back and one on each side.
Media
Image of a northern cottonmouth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Agkistrodon piscivorus
Description
The cottonmouth is named for the cotton-white lining of its mouth, which it opens wildely when alarmed. This dangerously venomous, semiaquatic snake occurs in the southeastern corner of Missouri, with a spotty distribution in the Ozark Region.
Media
Photo of an American coot.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fulica americana
Description
Although it floats like a duck, the American coot is actually in the rail family. Note its short tail and wings, pointed white bill, chickenlike walk, and toes with scalloped lobes.
Media
Photo of bald eagle soaring
Species Types
Scientific Name
Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Description
Our national symbol, the mature bald eagle is unmistakable with its dark brown body, yellow bill, and white head and tail. It soars with wings held flat and can have a 7-foot wingspan.
Media
Photo of a belted kingfisher, perched on branch tip, side view.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Megaceryle alcyon (formerly Ceryle alcyon)
Description
Belted kingfishers have a big head with a shaggy crest, a long, sharp bill, and a short tail. They perch or hover along rivers and shores, then plunge in to catch fish. The call is a loud rattle.
Media
Photo of a male bufflehead duck floating on water
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bucephala albeola
Description
Buffleheads are small, compact ducks with large, rounded heads. They bob lightly in the water, then, in a flash, dive below the surface.
Media
Photo of a male common goldeneye floating on the surface of the Mississippi River
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bucephala clangula
Description
The common goldeneye is a common migrant and winter resident in Missouri. A diving duck, it is usually found on open water of rivers and lakes.
Media
Photograph of two Double-Crested Cormorants perched on log above water
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phalacrocorax auritus
Description
Double-crested cormorants are dark, ducklike water birds with long necks, hooked bills, legs set far back on the body, and a habit of hanging their wings out to dry in the sun.
Media
Photo of great blue heron
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ardea herodias
Description
This large, graceful, blue-gray bird with a black, plumed eye line has long legs for wading and a slender neck and spearlike bill for catching fish.
Media
Photo of male and female mallards walking on ice
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anas platyrhynchos
Description
The mallard is probably the most familiar duck in all of North America. The male has a green head and chestnut breast. Both sexes have a blue speculum (wing patch) bordered on both sides by white.
Media
Photo of a pied-billed grebe nonbreeding form.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Podilymbus podiceps
Description
Small, brown, ducklike birds, pied-billed grebes have thick gray bills with a dark ring around the middle in summer. They dive underwater to forage.
Media
Photo of a male red-winged blackbird singing
Species Types
Scientific Name
Agelaius phoeniceus
Description
These crimson-shouldered residents of marshes, wet meadows and weedy roadside ditches are well-known by most rural Missourians. Their “konk-o-REEE” song likely emanates from every pond in Missouri.
Media
Photo of a beaver half in water
Species Types
Scientific Name
Castor canadensis
Description
The American beaver is a semiaquatic rodent distinguished by its large size, webbed hind feet, and large, horizontally flattened tail covered with leathery scales.
Media
Photograph of a muskrat standing on grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ondatra zibethicus
Description
The common muskrat is one of the most abundant commercial furbearers in Missouri. This semiaquatic rodent has benefited from the construction of thousands of farm ponds throughout the state.
Media
photo of river otter
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lontra canadensis
Description
The North American river otter was once nearly eliminated in Missouri, but thanks to restoration efforts, these powerful swimmers are once again found throughout most of the state.
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