CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Bird Conservation Foundation invite birders and others interested in birds to celebrate the completion of the Great Missouri Birding Trail May 26 in Cape Girardeau at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center at 2289 County Park Drive, from 9 a.m. to noon.
The events will include a brief opening ceremony with Birding Trail signage unveiled followed by short birding walks on area trails. The first 25 people at each event will receive a Great Missouri Birding Trail tote bag or water bottle. Attendees will also get Trail bumper stickers and lens cloths for cameras and binoculars.
The Great Missouri Birding Trail was initiated by Mike Doyen, president of the Missouri Bird Conservation Foundation. It is now a partnership between MDC and the Foundation with support from other state and federal agencies and birding organizations.
MDC State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick explained the Great Missouri Birding Trail is not a physical trail, but a website (greatmissouribirdingtrail.com) for beginner and seasoned birders to find and explore the “best of the best” places to birdwatch around Missouri. The website 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, 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“In today’s technological world, paper maps can become outdated quite quickly,” said Kendrick.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 adds that the best birding locations include mostly public land, such as conservation areas and state parks, and feature various types of bird habitats, such 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 property for birds in other ways.”
According to Doyen, Missouri has close to 1.5 million birders, age 16 and older.
“Birding is the fasting growing activity in Missouri, the nation, and around the world,” he said. “Our estimated economic impact in Missouri is close to $1 billion annually.”