ROLLA, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Bird Conservation Foundation invite birders and others interested in birds to a special celebration of the Great Missouri Birding Trail Friday, May 12. The free event, which celebrates the completion of the Trail, will run from 9 a.m. to noon at the Audubon Trails Nature Center, 550 Meriweather Court, in Rolla.
The event will include a brief opening ceremony to unveil new Birding Trail signs, followed by short birding walks on trails at the nature center. The first 25 people at the event will receive a Great Missouri Birding Trail tote bag or water bottle. Attendees will also receive bumper stickers and lens cloths for cameras or binoculars.
Mike Doyen, president of the Missouri Bird Conservation Foundation initiated the Great Missouri Birding Trail, which has grown into a partnership between MDC and other state and federal agencies and birding organizations.
The Great Missouri Birding Trail is a virtual resource that highlights the best places to bird in the state, spotlighting MDC conservation areas, state and city parks, and other properties managed by non-profit organizations to preserve natural areas. The website, GreatMissouriBirdingTrail.com, includes an interactive map of the best birding sites around the Show-Me State with information on various aspects of bird conservation. Pages include birding tips, beginner basics, native plant landscaping and property improvements for birds, and how to get involved with local bird organizations.
“In today’s technological world, paper maps can become outdated quite quickly,” said MDC Sate Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick. “The Birding Trail is a mobile-friendly website with an easy-to-use map of our best birding sites for access anytime, anywhere.”
Doyen added that the best birding locations include mostly public land, such as conservation areas and state parks, and feature various types of bird habitats, such as grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, forests, glades, and savannas.
“Trail sites were chosen to feature Missouri’s high-quality habitats, and each one hosts a different suite of birds to identify and enjoy,” he said. ”Habitat is so important for birds. That’s why we encourage birders to landscape with native plants and improve their backyards or properties for birds in other ways.”
According to Doyen, Missouri has nearly 1.5-million birders, age 16 and older.
“Birding is one of the fastest growing activities in Missouri, the nation, and around the world,” he said.
Similar Great Missouri Birding Trail celebrations will also occur this month in Springfield, Kansas City, Columbia, Kirksville, St. Louis, and Cape Girardeau.
To view the online trail, visit GreatMissouriBirdingTrail.com. For more information about birding in Missouri visit nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/activities/bird-watching.