Field Guide

Birds

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
Media
Image of an american kestrel
Species Types
Scientific Name
Falco sparverius
Description
The smallest and most colorful of North American falcons, American kestrels are often seen along highways where they perch on telephone wires or hover over grassy medians as they hunt.
Media
Photo of a male blue grosbeak
Species Types
Scientific Name
Passerina caerulea (formerly Guiraca caerulea)
Description
The male blue grosbeak is one of Missouri’s most colorful birds, but it is uncommon. To see one, learn to recognize its voice, and visit likely habitats in the Ozarks, May–September.
Media
Photo of a male blue-winged teal floating on water.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anas discors
Description
Blue-winged teal are dabblers, often seen in shallows sifting water and mud for goodies, rarely diving but able to take flight by jumping directly from the water into the air. Males have a distinctive white crescent on their dark gray heads.
Media
Photo of three cliff swallow nests attached to the soffit of a building, with a parent attending.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Petrechelidon pyrrhonota
Description
Cliff swallows fly in swarms around their clusters of juglike mud nests attached to overpasses, bridges, and other structures. Note the whitish forehead, buffy rump patch, and chestnut throat.
Media
Photograph of a Common Grackle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Quiscalus quiscula
Description
The common grackle makes “a mistake . . . in trying to sing,” a prominent birder once wrote of its kree-del-eeeeks and chlacks. Yet its iridescent purples, blues, and bronzes please the viewer despite the harshness of the voice.
Media
Photo of a male indigo bunting perched on a branch, side view.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Passerina cyanea
Description
One of the most colorful birds in Missouri, the indigo bunting is frequently seen flying up from gravel roads. It is one of the most abundant and easily seen and heard birds in the state.
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 merlin perched on a Y-shaped branch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Falco columbarius
Description
The merlin’s powerful body makes it look larger than it really is. In Missouri, this rather small falcon is usually only seen during spring and fall migration.
Media
Closeup photo of head of peregrine falcon
Species Types
Scientific Name
Falco peregrinus
Description
The fastest living animal, the peregrine falcon can dive at speeds of up to 261 miles per hour! It is being reintroduced to the state in urban areas, where skyscrapers replace the cliffs it traditionally nested on.
Media
A close up of a small bird with blue feathers and a white front, holding a sunflower seed in its beak.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sitta carolinensis
Description
White-breasted nuthatches, the upside-down birds, creep up and down tree trunks and on the tops and bottoms of branches. The call is a nasal “yank” or “yank-yank.”
See Also
Media
Photo of a Snowberry Clearwing
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hemaris diffinis
Description
The snowberry clearwing is a moth that confuses people because it looks like a bumblebee and flies like a hummingbird!
Media
White-Lined Sphinx Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hyles lineata
Description
The white-lined sphinx moth sometimes confuses people because it flies, hovers, and eats from flowers like a hummingbird. The adults often fly during daylight hours as well as in the night and are often found at lights.
Media
Photo of a Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Darapsa myron
Description
The Virginia creeper sphinx moth is common in woods and brushy areas and comes to lights at night. The larvae eat Virginia creeper and grape leaves.
Media
Photo of a tricolored bat hanging from a cave ceiling.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Perimyotis subflavus (formerly Pipistrellus subflavus)
Description
Tri-colored bats, formerly called eastern pipistrelles, are relatively small and look pale yellowish or pale reddish brown. The main hairs are dark gray at the base, broadly banded with yellowish brown, and tipped with dark brown.
Media
Photo of four gray myotises clinging to a cave ceiling.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Myotis grisescens
Description
Gray myotises are difficult to distinguish from other mouse-eared bats. A key identifying feature of the gray myotis is that its wing is attached to the ankle and not at the base of the toes. It’s an endangered species.
Media
Photo of a little brown myotis hanging from cave wall with lesions on its wrist.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Myotis lucifugus
Description
The little brown myotis (little brown bat) is one of our most common bats, but populations are declining. White-nose syndrome has taken a heavy toll in northeastern states. This species is now listed as vulnerable across its range.
Media
Photo of an Indiana myotis hanging from a cave ceiling.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Myotis sodalis
Description
The Indiana myotis, or Indiana bat, summers along streams and rivers in north Missouri, raising its young under the bark of certain trees. It is an endangered species.

About Birds in Missouri

About 350 species of birds are likely to be seen in Missouri, though nearly 400 have been recorded within our borders. Most people know a bird when they see one — it has feathers, wings, and a bill. Birds are warm-blooded, and most species can fly. Many migrate hundreds or thousands of miles. Birds lay hard-shelled eggs (often in a nest), and the parents care for the young. Many communicate with songs and calls.