MDC invites birders to free Spring Warbler Day May 12 at Big Buffalo Creek

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites people interested in warblers, colorful migrating songbirds, to participate in a free Spring Warbler Day bird count on Thursday, May 12, at the Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area southeast of Cole Camp. MDC staff will lead guided hikes. Birds spotted and identified will be added to the eBird citizen science database.

“The goal is to document every bird we see or hear, but we are particularly interested in warbler species,” said Lisa San Diego, MDC assistant natural history biologist. “Last year, our team recorded 22 warbler species in one day throughout the Big Buffalo Creek Watershed Priority Geography. Warblers are neotropical migratory birds. In the spring, some species fly thousands of miles from their over-wintering grounds in Central and South America to their breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada. The birds we spot will be recorded on eBird, a citizen science project documenting birds across the world.”

Some warbler species are endangered, threatened, or of conservation concern due to habitat loss and nesting competition from other bird species. The Kentucky warbler’s global population has declined by 28 percent since 1970 and the beautiful blue cerulean warbler numbers have declined by 72 percent. MDC’s Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area, and the surrounding private lands, offer contiguous tracts of forest, woodland, and stream corridor habitat that are important for migrating and nesting warblers.

The area is so rich in birds that a portion of the Great Missouri Birding Trail occurs on Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area. The conservation area anchors the Department’s Big Buffalo Creek Watershed Priority Geography, a partnership between MDC and private landowners for stream, fish, forest, and wildlife conservation.

Birders enjoy spotting warblers because they are often quite colorful with brilliant yellow, orange, and blue hues in their plumage. Many have beautiful songs, too. For Spring Warbler Day, participants will meet at the Big Buffalo Creek campground at 7:15 a.m. Birders can choose from three hikes led by MDC staff. One group will bird at the campsite area with a minimum of walking. A second group will bird along a short, mostly flat hiking trail leading to Big Buffalo Creek, and if time permits on a trail north of the campground. The third group will hike a medium-length trail, steep in places, that passes through a fen natural area and goes up to a flat ridge and back down to the creek.

The hikes will last from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., depending on trail’s length, birds seen, and participant wishes. This event will occur rain or shine. Birders will meet back at the campground afterward to discuss observations. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, bird identification books, water, snacks, hats, bug spray, and sunscreen. Space is limited to 20 participants. The hikes are open to adults and children 12 and over. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. COVID-19 precautions will be observed.

Registration is required. To register, visit