Field Guide

Birds

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 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 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 two black vultures standing on the ground
Species Types
Scientific Name
Coragyps atratus
Description
Although turkey vultures are much more common in Missouri, black vultures are expanding their range northward, and sightings of them are increasing. Note their black head, shorter tail, and (seen from below) a white patch near the ends of the wings.
Media
Photo of a broad-winged hawk perched on a branch in the sunshine.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Buteo platypterus
Description
The broad-winged hawk is stocky, with a large head and short tail. They are often seen migrating in large flocks. From below, note the pointed wingtips and broad black trailing edge to the pale wings.
Media
large gray and white bird perching on a black branch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Accipiter cooperii
Description
Cooper's hawks have short, rounded wings and long, narrow, rudderlike tails. They are frequently seen foraging along hedgerows and brush-entangled fencerows.
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
Photo of a northern harrier in flight, viewed from side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Circus hudsonius (sometimes called C. cyaneus)
Description
The northern harrier is a hawk of wetlands and grasslands. It has long wings and tail, a white rump patch, and an owl-like facial disk. Males are gray, females are brown. The flight pattern is distinctive.
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
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
Photo of a red-shouldered hawk perched on a tree branch.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Buteo lineatus
Description
The red-shouldered hawk is associated with forests and near water, in places where the lower part of the forest canopy is fairly open. They sit on tree branches and watch for movement on the ground.
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.