Christmas Bird Count

114th CBC Missouri Regional Summary

By Randy L. Korotev


In most years about a third of the Missouri Christmas Bird Counts occur on the first available Saturday. This past season at least two of the usually first-Saturday (December 14) counts were postponed because of snow or rain. Kirksville had 4–8” of snow, but the count went on. Although temperatures were normal for the season, beginning- and end-of-day temperatures averaged 25 °F (13–40 °F) and 42 °F (23–58 °F), several compilers mentioned that weather issues negatively affected both participation by birders and access to areas. On the day of the Knob Knoster count, Knob Knoster State Park, the only large piece of public land in the count circle, was closed for a special deer hunt. Nevertheless, 500 field participants found 145 species on 27 counts this past season in Missouri.

The season will not be remembered for unusual species. Few reports required documentation. The most unusual sighting was that of a Dickcissel on the Horton-Four Rivers count. Other “one-only” birds include Great Egret (Montrose Lake), Golden Eagle (Columbia), Virginia Rail (Columbia), Lesser Black-backed Gull (Confluence), Glaucous Gull (Confluence), Snowy Owl (Grand River), Long-eared Owl (Squaw Creek), and Palm Warbler (Big Oak Tree). Several counts had particularly high numbers of some species. More than a million Snow Geese were reported from 19 counts, with most from the Squaw Creek and Trimble. Trumpeter Swans occurred on 16 counts, with 700 at Confluence. Mingo reported 8650 Gadwall and 8450 Ring-necked Ducks. There were 414 Horned Grebes and 1350 Black Vultures on the Taney County count. The Confluence count tallied five species of gulls, with more than 6600 Ring-bills. Eurasian Collared-Doves blessed 19 counts.

Species reported in substantially lower-than-usual numbers include some that were likely affected by the snow and ice, e.g., American Coot, Killdeer, Wilson’s Snipe, and Great Blue Heron, but also others that are hardy winter birds e.g., American Wigeon, both scaup, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Field Sparrow, Purple Finch, and House Finch. Species often observed on Missouri CBCs but not reported on any count this past season include Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Osprey, House Wren, Sedge Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Vesper Sparrow, and Snow Bunting. Species in substantially higher-than-normal numbers include Gadwall (9997), Northern Shoveler (4698), Hooded Merganser (1586), Common Merganser (1376), Wild Turkey (1242), Red-headed Woodpecker (1166), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (126), Yellow-rumped Warbler (1448), and Rusty Blackbird (1422).

Five counts found more than 90 species, with Horton-Four Rivers taking the lead at 99.