MDC says May a great month for wildlife watching

News from the region
Kansas City
Published Date

Kansas City, Mo. – Missouri’s spring turkey hunting season is over, however, turkey watching season is still on. Gobblers and groups of gobblers are still strutting their spring stuff at the Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area in Blue Springs, often not far from hiking trails. Deer, songbirds and other watchable wildlife are also out and about for hikers to see.

May is a fine month for a walk in the forest, woodlands or prairies at a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) area. The weather is often mild. Freshly emerged tree leaves are a lighter shade of green. Wildflowers like columbine continue to bloom. Burr Oak Woods Nature Center offers indoor displays and classes. But the 1,071-acre conservation area surrounding the center offers opportunities to experience nature outdoors in the changing seasons on paved trails, gravel trails, or natural surface trails in the more remote parts of the area.

Wildlife watching comes with no guarantees that deer, turkeys or songbirds will be spotted on a hike. But wildlife at Burr Oak Woods is accustomed to hikers and education classes passing by on the trails. So they’re a bit less reclusive than those in rural areas. Being quiet on the walk increases your chances of spotting wildlife. Take binoculars, you might hear interesting songbirds singing in the trees and wonder what they are. Check out small rivulets and creeks as you cross them for frogs keeping cool or damselflies visiting a muddy bank.

Stop in the Nature Center and grab a map. The trails near the center offer pretty scenery and are worth the walk. But the area also has a number of more remote trails to explore. Reached off Strode Road is a parking lot serving a northern section of Burr Oak Woods. A native grass and wildflower restoration project in an old field borders the parking lot. Head south on the mowed natural surface trails and you will encounter forest in an area with fewer visitors. Don’t forget insect repellent and drinking water.

MDC provides nature centers and conservation areas in big cities and suburbs to provide connections with nature close to home. In the Kansas City area, MDC owns acreage with hiking trails in partnership with the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty, the Parkville Nature Sanctuary, Kansas City Parks and Recreation, and Jackson County Parks and Recreation.

MDC’s James A. Reed Memorial Conservation Area in Lee’s Summit offers a hiking trail and plenty of off-trail hiking opportunities, and fishing lakes.

For information about Burr Oak Woods, visit A listing of other MDC conservation areas statewide is available at