Field Guide

Birds

Showing 1 - 10 of 86 results
Media
Image of a white-crowned sparrow
Species Types
Scientific Name
Zonotrichia leucophrys
Description
The white-crowned sparrow is a large sparrow with a bold black-and-white striped crown, a clear gray breast, and a pink beak. It is one of our most common and widespread winter sparrows.
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
Photo of a ring-billed gull standing on a rock, water in background.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Larus delawarensis
Description
The ring-billed gull is Missouri’s most common gull. Adults can be told from our other most common gulls by their yellow legs and yellow bill with a black ring near the tip.
Media
Photo of a red-tailed hawk perched
Species Types
Scientific Name
Buteo jamaicensis
Description
Adult red-tailed hawks are large, brown above, and white below, with a brown-streaked band on the belly and a rust-red tail with a narrow black band near the end. They are commonly seen along highways, watching for prey.
Media
Photo of a snow goose standing in a winter field
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chen caerulescens
Description
The snow goose has two color forms: white and blue. The “blue goose” was once considered a separate species. Both share the distinctive feature of a black “lipstick” streak along the edge of the bill.
Media
Photo of a barn swallow in flight.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hirundo rustica
Description
Streamlined, agile fliers with forked tails, barn swallows build cup-shaped nests out of mud affixed to protected areas on the walls of barns and under bridges.
Media
Photo of three cliff swallow nests attached to the soffit of a building, with a parent attending.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Petrechelidon pyrrhonota
Description
Cliff swallows fly in swarms around their clusters of juglike mud nests attached to overpasses, bridges, and other structures. Note the whitish forehead, buffy rump patch, and chestnut throat.
Media
Photo of a male purple martin perched on martin box
Species Types
Scientific Name
Progne subis
Description
Generations of Americans have greeted the annual return of purple martins, with their cheerful calls, graceful flight, and faithful reappearance each year. But martin populations have been declining. Find out what you can do to help these agile fliers.
Media
Photo of a chimney swift in flight, viewed from below
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chaetura pelagica
Description
About the only way to see chimney swifts — unless you look in a chimney flue — is while they’re flying. They look like “flying cigars,” with long narrow wings, and chitter loudly as they fly.
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.
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.