MDC hosting free Global Big Day birding hikes May 13 on Cole Camp area prairies

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Kansas City
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Cole Camp – Join Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologists for a free Global Big Day birding event featuring native grassland birds. MDC will host guided birding hikes from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at several remnant prairies in the Cole Camp area, south of Sedalia. Grassland and other bird species will be spotted and counted to add to the eBird database. The hikes will also honor World Migratory Bird Day.

“More than 200 species have been found in the area including hawks, owls, waterfowl, songbirds, and woodpeckers,” said Krista Noel, MDC natural history biologist. “The Global Big Day bird data collected on Audubon’s list of grassland priority birds that are at risk will help science develop conservation for imperiled Henslow’s sparrows, northern bobwhite quail, eastern meadowlarks. and others.”

MDC and the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) manage remnant prairies that will be toured. Space is limited to 30 participants divided into two hiking groups. Biologists will answer questions, help identify birds, and talk about prairie ecology and plant life. The prairies are within a broader area designated by MDC as the Hi Lonesome Priority Geography. In this priority geography, MDC staff works on public and private lands to improve native grassland habitat. The geography has been designated as one of Audubon’s Important Bird Areas. Two of the prairies are stops on the Great Missouri Birding Trail.

Some prairies have colorful names, often tied to history or families, such as Drover’s Prairie, Hi Lonesome Prairie, Goodnight-Henry Prairie, and Paintbrush Prairie. They are remnants of a once vast native grasslands and savannas that covered much of Missouri. Today, they are valuable and species-rich havens for grassland birds, wildflowers, and prairie grasses.

The Global Big Day birding hikes are a family-friendly event. All levels of birding skills are welcome. Participants must be at the gathering point by 7:30 a.m., then the birders will divide into two groups to visit the prairies. There will be a lunch break, and hikers should bring their own food and drinks.

Participants are advised to bring binoculars, wear sturdy shoes for hiking on prairie, bring sunscreen and tick repellant, and have plenty of water. Travel between prairies will be by caravan, carpooling is advised.

Registration is required for this event. To register, visit