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 – Never-plowed prairies are special places in springtime. Spring wildflowers such as Indian paintbrush are blooming and native grasses are growing. Resident and migratory songbirds visit the prairies. Remnant prairies will be featured stops when the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) hosts a free Global Big Day birding event from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 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. 

The MDC and MPF prairies such as Drover’s Prairie, Hi Lonesome Prairie, Goodnight-Henry Prairie, and Paintbrush Prairie are remnants of vast native grasslands and savannas that once covered much of Missouri. Today, they are species-rich havens for grassland birds.

The Global Big Day birding hike is a family-friendly event. All levels of birding skills are welcome. Participants must be at the gathering point by 7:30 a.m. Hikers should bring their own food and drinks for the lunch break.

Registration is required for this event. To register, visit