Field Guide

Birds

Showing 1 - 10 of 20 results
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
Image of a male scarlet tanager
Species Types
Scientific Name
Piranga olivacea
Description
In summer, scarlet tanagers feed on insects and fruit in the canopy of oak-hickory forests and in large shade trees of the eastern U.S. and southern Canada.
Media
Photo of a male summer tanager perched on a small branch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Piranga rubra
Description
Adult male summer tanagers are entirely red — an unforgettable sight as they forage for insects among bright green tree leaves in early summer.
Media
Photo of two male wild turkeys displaying
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.
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 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 downy woodpecker clinging to suet feeder
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dryobates pubescens (formerly Picoides pubescens)
Description
Downy woodpeckers are ornately decorated with black-and-white upperparts and white underparts. They are often seen foraging for insects on tree bark or visiting suet feeders.
Media
Ruby-throated hummingbird in flight
Species Types
Scientific Name
Archilochus colubris
Description
The ruby-throated hummingbird, a tiny bird with a long needlelike bill, is well-known and beloved. It hovers and flies forward and backward with a humming sound. In the light, the male's ruby-red throat shines like a jewel.
Media
Photo of a male painted bunting, side view.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Passerina ciris
Description
The male painted bunting is one of the most colorful birds in North America, with its blue head, red underparts, and green back. Look for it in tangles and thickets in the southwest part of our state.
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.
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.