Field Guide

Birds

Showing 1 - 10 of 11 results
Media
Image of a fox sparrow
Species Types
Scientific Name
Passerella iliaca
Description
The fox sparrow is our largest sparrow and is named for its foxlike color. It commonly rustles through the leaves and seeds under bird feeders, kicking with both feet at the same time.
Media
Photograph of a male House Finch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Haemorhous mexicanus
Description
A time traveler from the 1970s or before would be amazed to see so many house finches in Missouri, for they are native to the American West. Now it's a common Missouri backyard bird.
Media
Photo of male northern cardinal
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cardinalis cardinalis
Description
The male northern cardinal is a bright red bird with a head crest and black mask. An excellent singer, this familiar backyard bird is beloved by many.
Media
Photograph of a male Purple Finch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Haemorhous purpureus
Description
In the 1930s, Roger Tory Peterson described the male purple finch as “a Sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” Learn how to distinguish this native eastern bird from the more common house finch.
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
large colorful bird in grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phasianus colchicus
Description
Long-tailed and chickenlike, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to America in the 1880s as a gamebird. It’s present in the northern quarter of the Missouri and in parts of the Bootheel.
Media
Image of a rose-breasted grosbeak
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pheucticus ludovicianus
Description
The rose-breasted grosbeak's song is a beautiful, robin-like carol. Grosbeaks are chubby birds with heavy bills used for gathering and eating beetles, seeds, and fruits.
Media
Photo of 2 sandhill cranes in corn stubble
Species Types
Scientific Name
Grus canadensis
Description
Sandhill cranes, sometimes mistaken for great blue herons, are rare migrants in Missouri that are becoming more common. They have a “bustle” of feathers over their short tail, and they fly with their necks straight out.
Media
Photo of a turkey vulture in flight
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cathartes aura
Description
The turkey vulture is perhaps the most commonly seen soaring bird in our state. Identify this "buzzard" from below by its shallow V-angled wing posture and two-toned pattern, with the forward edge of the wings black and the trailing half gray or silvery.
Media
Photo of male wild turkey walking in mowed grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Meleagris gallopavo
Description
The large size, iridescent bronze plumage (which can look merely dark at a distance), and naked blue and red head distinguish this ground-dwelling bird from others in our state.
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.