Field Guide

Birds

Showing 1 - 10 of 14 results
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 black-crowned night-heron walking in shallow water.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nycticorax nycticorax
Description
Stocky and short-legged compared to other herons, the black-crowned night-heron has a black crown and back, gray wings, and whitish-gray underparts and head.
Media
Photo of Canada goose swimming
Species Types
Scientific Name
Branta canadensis
Description
Canada geese are recognizable by their brownish bodies, black necks and heads, and a distinctive broad white patch that runs beneath their heads from ear to ear.
Media
Photo of a male common merganser floating on water.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mergus merganser
Description
Like our other mergansers, the common merganser has a long, slender, serrated bill and dives underwater for fish. This species, however, has only a short head crest and has unique color patterns.
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 a white-fronted goose.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anser albifrons
Description
More common in western North America, the greater white-fronted goose is likewise more common in western Missouri than in the east. They are grayish brown and have pink or orange bills.
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 northern pintail pair floating on water.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anas acuta
Description
A dabbling duck named for its long, tapered tail, the northern pintail is a common migrant in Missouri. Like other dabblers, it can leap into flight right from the surface of the water.
Media
Photograph of osprey in flight
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pandion haliaetus
Description
Osprey, also called “fish hawks” or “fish eagles,” used to be more common in our state, but their numbers are increasing. Keep an eye out for them, especially around reservoirs and during spring and fall migration, as reintroduction efforts are paying off!
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.
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.