Field Guide

Birds

Showing 1 - 10 of 86 results
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 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 male brown-headed cowbirdhttps://mdc.mo.gov/admin/focal_point/preview/66579/50x39?focal_point_token=LgTrHwPNEbDQ2zF7TM3xo6wHKaw3Uhax57PTdk6u0GA
Species Types
Scientific Name
Molothrus ater
Description
The brown-headed cowbird never builds a nest of its own. Instead, it lays eggs, one at a time, in the nests of other birds. Each cowbird is raised by unwitting foster parents.
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 blue jay perched on branch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cyanocitta cristata
Description
Blue jays are notable for their loud voices, blue and white plumage, strong black bill, relatively large size and the distinctive crest atop their heads.
Media
Photograph of American Crow
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corvus brachyrhynchos
Description
Crows scarcely need an introduction. A flock of them flapping over a cornfield, against an October sky, is a scene worthy of a painting, but the corn farmer doesn’t see it that way!
Media
Image of barred owl
Species Types
Scientific Name
Strix varia
Description
The barred owl is easily identified both visually and by sound. Learn to recognize its call, and on moonlit nights in their habitat, you may hear it quite often!
Media
Image of eastern screech-owl, gray phase
Species Types
Scientific Name
Otus asio
Description
This owl—which really doesn’t “screech”—can be gray, brown or red, but in Missouri you can verify your identification by noting its small size, yellow eyes and prominent ear tufts.
Media
Photo of a great horned owl on a tree branch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bubo virginianus
Description
The great horned owl has wide-set ear tufts and a white throat. After dark, you can identify it by its three to eight deep hoots grouped in a pattern, such as “hoo h'HOO, HOO, HOO.”
Media
Northern Saw-Whet Owl
Species Types
Scientific Name
Aegolius acadicus
Description
The northern saw-whet owl is the most nocturnal of our owls. On the rare occasions it is seen, it is usually perched near the ground in dense cover or in the entrance of a tree cavity.
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.