Birding Stories

Binder Lake Has Many Species for Good Birding

 Our own Binder Park may be the best local birding spot this side of Eagle Bluffs. So far this year, my personal Binder count is over 100 species.

The lake is big enough to attract a variety of waterfowl in season--diving ducks as well as "puddle" ducks--and occasionally, unusual species like Oldsquaw, White-winged Scoter, Common Loon, and Horned Grebe.

Purple Martins, Tree Swallows, and Woodcock are early arrivals. Bald eagles, Osprey, and Cormorants are regular migrants or winter visitors. I've also seen three kinds of tern, both night herons, Little blue heron, and Sora there during the past year.

Water levels in the pond below the dam are managed to expose mud flats for shorebirds in spring migration, and generally about 20 kinds of shorebirds may be seen there. Pectoral, Solitary, Spotted, Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, Yellowlegs, Snipe and Semipalmated Plovers are annual visitor, while Dunlin, Willet, White-Rumped and Baird's Sandpipers, and Hudsonian Godwitihave occasionally used the area. Don't expect to see all these in one trip, but regular visits may yield a good list.

In a dry spring when there is minimal standing water in the Missouri River flood plain, Binder's mud flats seem to concentrate the migrating shorebirds. My only complaint concerning its management is last winter's cutting of some willows surrounding the shorebird area--prior to their removal, Marsh and Sedge Wrens and several sparrow species were common there throughout the fall.

I haven't had much luck with migrating warblers lately, but we have seen Golden-winged and Black-throated Green Warblers and other more common migrants, as well as common nesters like Yellowthroat and Louisiana Water thrush. The wooded area behind the pavilion is sometimes good for warblers.
Written by: Rich G.

Good Birding Spots: UMC's Bradford Farm Area

A local favorite is the University of Missouri-Columbia's (UMC) Bradford agronomy research area southeast of Columbia. It's open to the public and it looks a lot like a regular "farm" to me, but apparently the wider variety of crops/grasses attracts some unusually birds.

Northern Harriers are usually in the air, and in winter, Short-eared Owls can be seen at dusk.I've seen Smith's Longspurs and Golden Plovers in the short grass; migrating LeConte's Sparrows can be seen in October and November if you can flush them from the tall grass; and it's a good place for Western Meadowlarks and Merlins. A couple of ponds can attract waterfowl.
Written by: Rich G.

Hi Lonesome Conservation Area Birding 

The Missouri Conservation Department's Hi Lonesome Prairie Conservation Area is a native prairie only about an hour's drive west of Jefferson City. Many of us have risen before dawn for field trips to see the prairie chickens "booming" on their leks in early April, but a trip later in the spring or summer is also worth-while.

Upland sandpipers can be seen on fence posts or on the ground, or more often heard calling overhead. Grasshopper Sparrows nest there. Henslow's Sparrows are rare outside of native prairie but can often be found where prairie does occur (look for an olive-colored head and chestnut sides: listen for the quick, dry two-note call).

It's also a good place for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Loggerhead Shrikes. Bell's Vireos can be found at Hi Lonesome, which is generally about the eastern edge of their range in Missouri.

From the west-side parking area, I've walked a short distance east, down into the brush along a creek, to find the sparrows and Vireos. One spring, there was a pair of Blue Grosbeaks near the parking area. Trips later in the spring or summer will also provide a wildflower show.
Written by: Rich G.