Thursday, September 26, 2019

Common backyard birds in Missouri (lists, photos, ID)

I've put this resource together for you to answer the question: What birds are in my backyard in Missouri? This article tells you what Missouri birds you can expect in your backyard and when they are most common. I also provide a photo and description section to help you with Missouri bird identification of the most common birds native to Missouri backyards.

The most common backyard birds throughout the year in the state of Missouri are these:

  1. Northern Cardinal (62% frequency)
  2. Blue Jay (46%)
  3. American Robin (44%)
  4. Mourning Dove (43%)
  5. Red-bellied Woodpecker (41%)
  6. Tufted Titmouse (40%)
  7. American Goldfinch (38%)
  8. Downy Woodpecker (37%)
  9. American Crow (35%)
  10. European Starling (32%)
  11. Carolina Wren (32%)
  12. White-breasted Nuthatch (27%)
  13. Eastern Bluebird (25%)
  14. Dark-eyed Junco (25%)
  15. House Sparrow (23%)
  16. White-throated Sparrow (22%)
  17. Black-capped Chickadee (22%)
  18. Northern Flicker (20%)
  19. House Finch (20%)
  20. Common Grackle (20%)

These birds occur on more than 20% of eBird checklists for the state.



In this article
Lists of the most common backyard birds in Missouri
Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Missouri
Other birds you might see from your backyard in Missouri
Comparison of the most common backyard birds in Kansas City, Missouri
Beyond your backyard


This page lists the most common backyard birds as determined by actual bird sightings reported to the citizen science birding program, eBird. These birds are ranked according to frequency--the percentage of all bird checklists on which a species occurs. Below I list common backyard birds in winter and summer.

Photos and identification are next. I tell a little bit about each species and how you might attract them to your yard.

Farther below I've also added a list of other common birds not typically found in backyards.

I conclude with a list comparing the birds of Kansas City with the birds of the state as a whole.




List of the most common feeder birds and backyard birds in Missouri


The top list on this page is the frequency of birds throughout the year. Many birds are migratory or otherwise vary in abundance between seasons. So the next two lists are the common birds ranked in winter and then in summer.

The most common backyard birds in Missouri in winter (December to February) are these:
Northern Cardinal (60% frequency)
Dark-eyed Junco (53%)
Blue Jay (44%)
Downy Woodpecker (43%)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (41%)
Tufted Titmouse (40%)
American Goldfinch (36%)
European Starling (34%)
American Crow (34%)
Mourning Dove (33%)
White-throated Sparrow (33%)
American Robin (30%)
White-breasted Nuthatch (30%)
Carolina Wren (27%)
House Sparrow (25%)
House Finch (24%)
Black-capped Chickadee (24%)
Northern Flicker (24%)
Eastern Bluebird (20%)

The most common backyard birds in Missouri in summer (June to July) are these:
Northern Cardinal (67% frequency)
Mourning Dove (56%)
American Robin (52%)
Indigo Bunting (48%)
Blue Jay (41%)
American Goldfinch (39%)
Tufted Titmouse (36%)
Carolina Wren (35%)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (35%)
Barns Swallow (35%)
Common Grackle (32%)
Brown-headed Cowbird (32%)
American Crow (31%)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (31%)
European Starling (30%)
Downy Woodpecker (29%)
Eastern Bluebird (28%)
House Sparrow (27%)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (27%)
Eastern Kingbird (26%)
Eastern Phoebe (24%)
White-breasted Nuthatch (23%)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (22%)
House Finch (21%)
Chipping Sparrow (20%)
Northern Mockingbird (20%)

How do birds differ between winter and summer?

Dark-eyed Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers, White-throated Sparrows are more common in winter.

Mourning Doves, American Robins, Indigo Buntings, Barn Swallows, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Phoebes, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Chipping Sparrows are more common in summer.




Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Missouri


Photo of Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Image by GeorgeB2 from Pixaby

1. Northern Cardinal (62%)

Cardinalis cardinalis
This is one of the most common and popular backyard birds in the eastern half of the United States.

Identification: Size: Cardinals are a bit smaller than American Robins, about the same size as Red-winged Blackbirds. Shape: Plump body with fairly long full tail. Wispy crest. Bill: Short, heavy, conical, pink. Color: That bright red color is matched by few other birds. Black face. The female is more gray, but with hints of red in wings and tail, and has a crest, too.

Habitat, range & behavior: Cardinals are year-round residents in shrubby woodland edges from the eastern United States to Texas and Arizona south into Mexico. That large conical bill is made for chewing seeds. Watch them crack open sunflower seeds, spit out the hulls, and pluck the kernel with their tongues!

Food and feeder preference: Black oil sunflower seeds. Many types of seeds, berries, nuts in larger hopper or tray feeders.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting Northern Cardinals.


Photo of Blue Jay enjoying a bath
Blue Jay
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

2. Blue Jay (46%)

Cyanocitta cristata
A common and well-known bird in the eastern half of the United States.

Identification: Size: About that of American Robin. Shape: Fluffy, large crested head, ample tail. Large strong legs. Bill: Black, long and stout. Color: Blue above, white below. Black neck collar. White patches in wing.

Habitat, range & behavior: Woodlands and towns in the eastern half of the United States. In summer into southern Canada. Bold and brash. May bully smaller birds. Jays gulp lots of seeds or other food at once, storing it in their crop. Then they fly off and bury food items in a hidden cache.

Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous. They can quickly empty your feeder! Because they are also aggressive toward other feeder birds, some people put mesh cages around smaller bird feeders. Small birds can go through, squirrels and larger "pest" birds are prevented entry. Some people feed jays peanuts, perhaps away from the seed feeders.


Photo of American Robin
American Robin
Photo by Greg Gillson

3. American Robin (44%)

Turdus migratorius
This familiar bird is a resident in the northern half of the United States and a winter visitor in the southern half.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: 10 inches long from bill tip to tail tip. About the same size as a Blue Jay or one of the Scrub-Jays. Larger than Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than a Mourning Dove. Shape: Very plump with a fairly long tail. Bill: Straight and fairly slender, curved at the tip. Color: Gray-brown upperparts, rusty orange breast.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open woodlands, farmlands, urban parks and lawns. Migratory, breeds north across Alaska and Canada. Resident in most of the United States (lower 48). Winters in the United States, Mexico, to central America. Hops on your lawn turning head this way and that looking for food. Their caroling song is one of the early signs of spring in the north.

Food and feeder preference: Worms and other invertebrates in the lawn. May eat fruit from a tray feeder or the ground. Eat small berries from trees and bushes.


Photo of Mourning Dove in a tree
Mourning Dove
Photo by Greg Gillson

4. Mourning Dove (43%)

Zenaida macroura
Mourning Doves are the most widespread and most frequent backyard bird in the Lower 48 states of the United States.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: About 12 inches long from bill tip to tail tip. About same size as Northern Flicker. Larger than American Robin. Slightly smaller than domestic city pigeon. Shape: Very plump with a small round head. Tail is long and pointed. Legs are short. Bill: Small and rather slender. Color: Pale brown-pink body, darker wings and tail. White edges on side of tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: Semi-open areas such as urban areas, farmlands, woods. Often seen perched on wires, fences. It is a resident across the lower-48 states and Mexico, with some movement out of northern areas in winter. Their mournful cooing is a familiar spring birdsong.

Food and feeder preference: Mourning Doves eat seeds almost exclusively. Attract with black oil sunflower seeds on a large sturdy tray feeder or on the ground.


Photo of Red-bellied Woodpecker climbing a tree
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

5. Red-bellied Woodpecker (41%)

Melanerpes carolinus
This is one of the most common species in the eastern half of the United States.

Identification: Size: Fairly large for a backyard bird. Between a Starling and American Robin in size. Smaller than a Northern Flicker. Shape: Stout with large head and short tail. Clings to tree trunk on strong short legs propped up with short stiff tail. Bill: Long, chisel-shaped. Color: Pale gray body, many thin black-and-white bars across back and wings. Red nape, extending forward on crown on male.

Habitat, range & behavior: These birds are found in many woodland types, including oak, hickory and pine. They are found from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the lower-48 states from Texas to extreme southern Canada, and eastward from Florida northward just to the southern edge of the New England states. In typical woodpecker fashion, it hitches up the tree trunk and larger branches.

Food and feeder preference: This species eats insects and nuts. They may eat peanuts from a tray feeder and eat from a suet block.


Photo of Tufted Titmouse in feeder
Tufted Titmouse
Image by anne773 from Pixabay

6. Tufted Titmouse (40%)

Baeolophus bicolor
Related to chickadees, they lack the black bib, but have a crest instead.

Identification: Size: A small bird, but a large titmouse, this species is larger than chickadees, about the size of a junco or House Finch. Shape: Rounded body, long full tail, big head, long legs. Bill: Short and stout, compressed (taller than wide), black. Color: Dark blue-gray above, pale below. Black feathers around eye accentuates its size.

Habitat, range & behavior: Lives in deciduous forests with heavy canopy, parks. Found in eastern and southeastern United States is expanding its range north and west. Backyard bird feeders might be helping this species expand its range northward.

Food and feeder preference: Insects and seeds. At your hopper or tray feeder they like black oil sunflower seeds and suet.


Photo of American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
Photo by Greg Gillson

7. American Goldfinch (38%)

Spinus tristis
A beautiful tiny finch familiar to many in it's bright yellow summer plumage. Colloquially called a "wild canary."

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: Very small at about 5 inches from bill tip to tail tip. Similar in size to a chickadee. Larger than hummingbirds. Smaller than juncos and House Finches. Shape: Tiny, somewhat plump with larger head and short tail. Bill: Short, conical, pink. Color: Males in summer are bright lemon yellow with black forehead and black wings and tail with white bars. White under tail coverts. Females dull olive, wings and tail browner. Winter birds are pale grayish-yellow with tan and brown wings and tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: This species is found in weedy fields and similar clearings with thistles and similar plants. It is found coast-to-coast throughout the year across most of the middle lower-48 states. In summer moves north to the Canada border. In the winter found south to the Mexico border. The flight is highly undulating, rising and falling as they flap in short bursts. Besides a long, sweet lilting song, they call in flight a lilting 4-part: "potato chip!"

Food and feeder preference: Feeds on weed seeds, thistle seed. May eat black oil sunflower seeds from tube feeder. Love Nyjer seed in a feeder called a "thistle sock."

You may like my in-depth article on attracting American Goldfinches.


Photo of Downy Woodpecker on suet block
Downy Woodpecker
Photo by Greg Gillson

8. Downy Woodpecker (37%)

Dryobates pubescens
This tiny woodpecker is found across the United States.

Identification: Size: Bigger than a junco or House Finch. Smaller than a Red-winged Blackbird. About the same size as a White-crowned Sparrow, but with a much shorter tail. Shape: Stocky with large head and short stiff tail. Bill: Short, chisel-shaped. Color: Black-and-white striped head. Black wings with white spots. Solid white black. White under parts. Black tail with white outer tail feathers with black bars or spots. Male with small red spot at back of head.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in small deciduous trees, willows, and even weed stocks such as teasel, especially near water. Ranges coast-to-coast across all but northernmost parts of Canada and Alaska south to the southern US. Absent in the desert southwest. Interestingly, I learned today that the males may more often be found in smaller plants and twigs, while females are more likely on tree trunks.

Food and feeder preference: Insects, fruits, and seeds. Gleans arthropods from the bark of trees. Attract with suet feeder. Will also eat black oil sunflower seeds.


Photo of American Crow
American Crow
Photo by Greg Gillson

9. American Crow (35%)

Corvus brachyrhynchos
This larger all-black bird is common in cities and country. Its cawing call is familiar to most people.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: About 17-1/2 inches long from bill tip to tail tip, though there is much size variation throughout its range. Larger than blackbirds and grackles. Smaller than ravens. Shape: Thick neck, large head, rather short square-ended tail. Longer legs. In flight has rounded wing tips with each primary feather separated from others forming "fingers." Bill: As long as head, thick, black. Color: Glossy black throughout.

Habitat, range & behavior: They prefer open areas with trees, fields, farms, cities. They are common across most of the United States lower-48, except in the desert southwest. They move into southern Canada in summer. They gather in evening communal roosts in large flocks that may number into the thousands and then move out at dawn into the surrounding area.

Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous, they feed on large insects, grain, small mammals, carrion. You probably don't want these large entirely-black birds in your backyard feeders. So don't feed table scraps to birds.


Photo of European Starling
European Starling
Photo by Greg Gillson

10. European Starling (32%)

Sturnus vulgaris
Introduced to North America in the late 1800's, they crossed the continent, often to the detriment of native cavity-nesting birds. The prime example of an invasive species.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: 8-1/2 inches from bill tip to tail tip. About the size of a Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than an American Robin. Larger than a White-crowned Sparrow or Spotted/Eastern towhee. Shape: Stocky with large head, short square-ended tail. Longer legs. Bill: As long as head. Sharp pointed. Yellow in spring, otherwise dark. Color: They are grayish brown much of the year, with glossy iridescence and white spotting during the spring.

Habitat, range & behavior: Lowland birds that need trees large enough for nest cavities but plenty of open area for feeding. They are most abundant in urban and suburban areas where they find food and artificial nest cavities. Resident from coast-to-coast from southern Canada to northern Mexico. In summer north across Canada and Alaska. Native range is Europe to Pakistan, north Africa. Often viewed as a pest, starlings often bully other backyard birds, taking over bird feeders, and stealing nest cavities from smaller native birds. In winter they can form into flocks of ten's of thousands.

Food and feeder preference: Primarily insects when available, often feeding on the ground. Discourage them from your backyard hopper and tray feeders by never feeding birds table scraps (including bread or meat). They have weak feet and do not perch well on tube feeders. A cage mesh around smaller hopper feeders may keep them out.


Photo of Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren
Image by theSOARnet from Pixabay

11. Carolina Wren (32%)

Thryothorus ludovicianus
This is a fairly common backyard bird in the much of the eastern United States.

Identification: Size: A smaller bird, between the size of American Goldfinch and House Finch. Shape: Round body, short neck, flat head, long tail flipped about actively. Bill: Fairly long, thin, pointed and slightly curved. Color: Upper parts rusty brown with black bars on the wings and tail. A white eyebrow line and buff under parts.

Habitat, range & behavior: Shrubby thickets and brushy suburban yards. It is found in the southeastern United States and Yucatan. Northern parts of range expand and contract depending upon harshness of winters. Males sing throughout the year and are very loud for their size.

Food and feeder preference: Feed mostly on insects and spiders. They will feed on suet.


Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch head-first down the tree
White-breasted Nuthatch
Photo by Greg Gillson

12. White-breasted Nuthatch (27%)

Sitta carolinensis
A favorite feeder bird for many for its active antics and fearlessness. Though a small bird it is the largest nuthatch in North America.

Identification: Size: About chickadee-sized in length. Smaller than a junco or House Finch. Shape: Appears large-headed, neckless, very short tailed. Short legs. Bill: Nearly as long as head, straight, thin. Color: Blue-gray above, white below. Black cap, wing tips, tail. Rusty feathers under tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: Common in oak and oak-pine woodlands, wooded towns. Found across the United States, southern Canada, mountains of central Mexico. Absent from treeless grasslands, deserts in the west. Crawls over tree branches and head-first down tree trunks searching for insects.

Food and feeder preference: Insects, seeds, acorns and other nuts. Love black oil sunflower seeds feeding on hopper and tray feeders. Suet blocks.


Photo of an Eastern Bluebird on a nest box
Eastern Bluebird
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

13. Eastern Bluebird (25%)

Sialia sialis
A beloved bird of open fields with trees and fence lines for perching.

Identification: Size: Larger than House Finches. Much smaller than starlings. About length of White-crowned Sparrow but differently proportioned. Shape: Chunky, large head, short tail. Bill: Straight, fairly slender, curved at tip. Color: Males are brilliant blue above (including wings and tail), rusty orange below with white belly and under tail. Females are often much paler, almost grayish.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in pasture, fields, golf courses, open woodland edges. They are resident in most of eastern US, highlands of Middle America. In summer reach northernmost eastern US and southernmost eastern Canada, withdrawing somewhat in winter. They readily use nest boxes, but the entrance hole must be smaller than the head of a starling, and without a perch.

Food and feeder preference: They eat flying insects primarily, but also other invertebrates and berries. They will eat mealworms at your feeder and frequent birdbaths.


Photo of Dark-eyed Junco on snow-covered branch
Dark-eyed Junco
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

14. Dark-eyed Junco (25%)

Junco hyemalis
Colloquially called "snow birds," they often arrive in backyards in winter from nearby mountain forests or more northern climes.

Identification: Size: Small birds about the size of a House Finch. Shape: Round body, short neck, round head, fairly long square-ended tail. Bill: Short, pointed, conical, pink. Color: Eastern birds are a darker all-gray with white belly. Western birds have jet black hood over head, brown back, and pink sides.

Habitat, range & behavior: Breed in coniferous forests. Winters widely. Avoids heavy brush, preferring widely spaced bushes. Breeds across most of Canada, Alaska, and the western half of the United States. Winters from southern Canada and all of the lower 48-states to extreme northern Mexico. Spend much of their time hopping and feeding on the ground.

Food and feeder preference: Eats mostly seeds, also insects in summer. Readily feed at backyard feeders on mixed seeds on hopper or tray feeders and ground.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting Dark-eyed Juncos.


Photo of House Sparrow on feeder with sunflower seed
House Sparrow
Photo by Greg Gillson

15. House Sparrow (23%)

Passer domesticus
Like the starling, this is another bird introduced from Europe in the 1800's. This sparrow is commonly found in cities and farmlands. It is considered a pest in most areas where it has been introduced.

Identification: Size: The size of a House Finch or Dark-eyed Junco. Shape: Chunkier than native North American sparrows with large head, barrel chest, short neck, medium tail, short legs. Bill: Short, conical. Color: Males are brown and gray with a black mask. Females lack the black and are tan and brown with a pale line back from the eye.

Habitat, range & behavior: Cities and farms. Range in North American from southern Canada through Central America. In summer northward through Canada to southern Alaska. Originated in Middle East and spread to most of Europe and Asia. Introduced in South America, Africa, Australia--nearly anywhere there are people and cities. They tend to be messy... and have a good appetite, and may occur in large noisy chirping flocks. They are aggressive toward other feeder birds.

Food and feeder preference: They eat grain, seed, and insects. To discourage them from your hopper and tray feeders do not feed birds human food scraps. They have a bit of difficulty eating from tube feeders.


Photo of White-throated Sparrow on birdbath
White-throated Sparrow
Photo by Greg Gillson

16. White-throated Sparrow (22%)

Zonotrichia albicollis
A fairly common bird of northern forests that visits backyards across much of the US.

Identification: Size: Similar in size to White-crowned Sparrow. Bigger than a House Finch; smaller than a starling. Shape: Longer body. Round head on short neck. Long tail with notched tip. Bill: Short. conical. Color: Striped tan and brown above, pale gray below. White-striped form with black and white head stripes. Tan-striped form with tan and brown striped head. First year birds are similar to tan-stiped adults, but streakier overall. Yellow spot between eyebrow and bill. White throat strongly offset from gray breast and face.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in forests, brush, and open woodland edges. Breeds across Canada and northernmost Eastern United States. Winters in the eastern US, southern central US, and rare but regular along the West Coast. Found in small flocks on ground near brush into which they can flee. Kick up leaves to search under for food.

Food and feeder preference: Eat seeds and berries in winter, more insects and fruit in summer. In your feeder will eat mixed seeds on a platform feeder and on the ground.


Photo of Black-capped Chickadee on bird bath
Black-capped Chickadee
Photo by Greg Gillson

17. Black-capped Chickadee (22%)

Poecile atricapillus
This is a common backyard bird in the northern half of the United States.

Identification: Size: Chickadees are small birds, the same general size as an American Goldfinch. Shape: Round body, big round head, long tail with rounded tip. Bill: Short, straight, stout. Color: Gray above, buffy below. Black cap and bib with white lower face. White edges on wing feathers.

Habitat, range & behavior: Deciduous and mixed forests. They range from the northern half of the United States, southern half of Canada, and most of Alaska. Small flocks flit actively from tree to tree acrobatically gleaning insects from twig tips. In winter chickadees make up the core of mixed-species flocks also containing nuthatches, kinglets, creepers, woodpeckers and others.

Food and feeder preference: Seeds, insects, berries. They eat at tube, hopper and tray feeders. They love black oil sunflower seeds and suet.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting Black-capped Chickadees.


Photo of Northern Flicker on a branch
Northern Flicker
Photo by Greg Gillson

18. Northern Flicker (20%)

Colaptes auratus
Of all the bird identification questions I get asked, this common larger backyard bird is the bird most people ask about. It doesn't occur to those unfamiliar with it that this could be a woodpecker.

Identification: Size: About the size of a Mourning Dove. Larger than a robin. Shape: Stocky with short legs, short tail, big head. Bill: As long as head, thin, slightly curved. Color: Back is brown with black bars. Under parts pinkish with black spots. Undersides of black wing and tail feathers are bright salmon red (West) or yellow (East). Head gray (West) or brown (East) and males with red (West) or black (East) whisker marks and nape marks (East). Black crescent across chest. White rump seen in flight.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in woodland edges and forests. Year-round resident from extreme southern Canada, across all of the lower-48 states and in the mountains of Mexico and Middle America. In summer breeds northward well into Canada and Alaska. Frequently noted hopping on ground pecking in the ground for insects. In late spring, males proclaim their territory by rapid pounding on a hollow tree branch, though the ringing of metal downspouts at dawn is louder and carries much farther, to the exasperation of anyone trying to sleep inside!

Food and feeder preference: Ants and beetles are their primary foods. Will eat black oil sunflower seeds and are attracted to suet.


Photo of a House Finch in a bird bath
House Finch in bird bath
Photo by Greg Gillson

19. House Finch (20%)

Haemorhous mexicanus
Originally a bird of the West, now found across most of the US. There are other red finches, but these are the ones most likely in residential areas.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: About 6 inches from bill tip to tail tip. Larger than goldfinches and chickadees. Smaller than a White-crowned Sparrows or Spotted/Eastern towhees. Shape: Medium build with a medium-long notched tail. Round head. Bill: Short, conical. Color: Brown and gray above with streaks on the sides of the pale underparts. Males with red (sometimes orange or rarely yellow) crown, chest, rump.

Habitat, range & behavior: You'll find small flocks on wires, in short tree tops and in bushes. Originally deserts and grasslands. Rural areas and towns are where they're now most common. Formerly found in the western United States and Mexico. Then introduced into the northeastern United States, but now found in nearly all of the lower-48 states and extreme southern Canada. Rare in plains states (Dakotas to Texas) and southern Florida. House Finches are not territorial, but males sing throughout the year--a lively, wiry song ending in a couple of buzzy notes.

Food and feeder preference: They love sunflower seeds and tube feeders. May eat from thistle socks.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting House Finches.


Photo of Common Grackle on bird bath
Common Grackle
Image by GeorgiaLens from Pixabay

20. Common Grackle (20%)

Quiscalus quiscula
Sometimes considered a pest to crops, grackles are longer and lankier than very similar blackbirds.

Identification: Size: Larger than Red-winged Blackbirds, they are near the length of Mourning Doves. Shape: Long, with long full keel-shaped tail, long legs, flat crown. Bill: Longer than head, pointed, but stouter than other blackbirds. Color: Glossy black with hint of bronze or green on head (depending upon population). Yellow eye.

Habitat, range & behavior: They are found in agricultural areas, woodland edges, city parks and lawns. Resident in the southeastern United States. In summer they migrate northward and west to the central United States and Canada. They monopolize feeders and are bullies toward other birds.

Food and feeder preference: Grain, corn, acorns, small aquatic fish and amphibians. To discourage them, use tube feeders, rather than hopper or tray feeders. Don't over-feed, keep spilled seed picked up.



Nice little video showing a half dozen species at a bird feeder in Missouri.




Other common birds you might see from your backyard in Missouri


The following lists contain additional common birds you might see flying over your yard or in a nearby neighborhood. There are also several less common backyard birds in these lists that don't appear in the lists above.

Watch for these additional common Missouri birds in winter (December to February):
Canada Goose (29% frequency)
Red-tailed Hawk (26%)

Watch for these additional common Missouri birds in summer (June to July):
Red-winged Blackbird (38% frequency)
Turkey Vulture (34%)
Great Blue Heron (25%)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (24%)
Common Yellowthroat (23%)
Killdeer (23%)
Dickcissel (22%)

Watch for these additional common Missouri birds in spring (April to May):
Turkey Vulture (41% frequency)
Red-winged Blackbird (41%)
Canada Goose (33%)
Great Blue Heron (25%)
Northern Parula (23%)
Brown Thrasher (23%)
Killdeer (20%)




Comparison of the most common backyard birds in Kansas City Missouri


Photo of Black-capped Chickadee in birdbath
Black-capped Chickadee is a common bird in Kansas City
Photo by Greg Gillson

The following list uses eBird data to compare the birds of Kansas City with the birds of the state as a whole. Kansas City is primarily in Jackson County. I will use the data for Jackson County to represent the birds in the Kansas city area.

Here are the most common backyard birds throughout the year in Kansas City.
Northern Cardinal (66% frequency)
American Robin (53%)
Blue Jay (53%)
Black-capped Chickadee (50%)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (43%)
American Goldfinch (42%)
Mourning Dove (41%)
Tufted Titmouse (39%)
Downy Woodpecker (39%)
European Starling (37%)
American Crow (37%)
House Sparrow (35%)
Carolina Wren (34%)
Dark-eyed Junco (31%)
Eastern Bluebird (25%)
House Finch (25%)
White-breasted Nuthatch (23%)
Northern Flicker (20%)
White-throated Sparrow (20%)

Black-capped Chickadees and House Sparrows are more common in Kansas City than in the state as a whole. Otherwise the backyard birds in Kansas City are very similar to elsewhere in Missouri.




Beyond your backyard


To create this page on the backyard birds in Missouri I used some of the advanced features of eBird.

You can learn more about what birds are in your own backyard using some easy and helpful features of eBird. Rare birds. Common birds. Winter birds, spring birds, summer birds, and fall birds. In fact, you can determine the abundance of all birds likely in your area for every week of the year! You can also see photos of the birds from your own area.

eBird also has numerous photos and voice recordings of the birds. Thus, you can see pictures of all the variation in each species. And you can listen to recordings of bird songs and calls.

Not all birds can be found in backyards. You may find that you wish to see birds in other places. If so, you'll want to check this out.

First, I'm sending you to eBird (www.ebird.org). Please don't forget me! Bookmark this page to come back.


Explore Regions for birds in your own county


From the eBird home page, select the tab for Explore (https://ebird.org/explore). The Explore page offers several options. Please use the Explore Regions form for now. Start entering your county name into the form. Select your county and state from the drop-down list.

Now your County page pops up.

There are 114 counties plus 1 independent city (St Louis) in Missouri. There are bird lists for each. The county with the most birds recorded is St. Charles County with 344 species. The county with the least birds recorded is Schuyler County with 126 species.

From this County page there are 3 selections that I want to share with you. They are Printable Checklist, Illustrated Checklist, and Hotspots.


1. Printable Checklist


The Printable Checklist is exactly what it sounds like. It is a basic bird checklist of all birds with eBird records in the county, state, or country you choose. It is a professional looking checklist, too. You can print it double-sided on card stock for a quite nice and durable bird checklist.

Bird checklists are useful to keep track of birds in your backyard as you identify them. Or, you may want to print a new list for each time you take a bird watching outing.

But this type of list doesn't help you figure out if a bird in your backyard is common or rare. For that, you need the next type of checklist.


2. Bar Charts


Bar charts combine the species list with abundance over time. The thickness of the line (bar) indicates how frequently a bird is seen. A thicker bar indicates a common bird. A thin line indicates a rare bird. No bars are shown when the birds are absent or not recorded.

In the case of the eBird bar charts, there is a space for every week of the year. There is room for 52 lines, or bars, in each chart. This way, you can tell, week by week, how common birds are in your state, even in each county.

One feature that I like on the county page is the Illustrated Checklist. It is a bar chart for the county. But it also includes photos of birds that have been taken in the county. That way, for unusual birds, I can see the plumage. Are most of the records for breeding males or perhaps dull-looking immatures? That will let me know exactly what I am looking for when I am out in the field. Of course, I always like to add photos to the Illustrated Checklist if any are missing. But that is easier to do with the following list.


3. Hotspots


Hotspots are public bird watching areas with their own species checklists and bar charts. Sometimes these are very famous birding sites with thousands of bird watchers visiting per year. Other hotspots are very rarely visited by birders. These will give you an idea of what other birds (not just backyard birds) may be found near you.

There are hundreds of hotspots for every state. Each county is likely to have numerous hotspots, too. There is a list of the top 100 hotspots in each state. To see all of them you can go to the map.

You may also like my eBird tutorial with illustrations.

Once you start viewing your backyard birds in Missouri, you may find that you want to look for more types of birds than just backyard birds. Then you're on your way to exploring the wildlife in a larger world. There are birds everywhere you go. Different ones in every location. In fact, 10,000 of them. That's enough for several lifetimes of joy just to see them once!

All this because you were curious as to what birds were in your backyard!




Read next: Get started watching birds! Bird watching tips and equipment for beginners.






Next: Backyard birds of Montana

You may be interested: Bird books for each individual state in the US

Related: 34 of the most common birds in the United States (with photos)

Please also check out my recommended products page. There I maintain a list of the best feeders, bird foods, binoculars, bird baths, fountains, books and other bird watching items.



Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Bird books for the United States and each individual state

Bird books for the US and each state:


I plan to update this page with more useful state-related items as I find them.

Legally, I'm supposed to tell you: "As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases." If you purchase items from Amazon from a link on this page, I may earn a small commission with no added cost to you. Thank you in advance. I really appreciate it.--Greg


United States

The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America is my favorite and constantly updated. Every species found north of Mexico, including all rarities. 7th Edition from 2017 is the newest.



This National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds is the best... and that was before it was updated in November 2019!



Follow this Amazon link to even more books on birds of the United States (including sub-regions)



Alabama

Stan Tekiela's beginners guide is from 2006. He has one for every state.



Amazon link to books on birds of Alabama


Alaska



Amazon link to books on birds of Alaska


Arizona



Amazon link to books on birds of Arizona


Arkansas



Amazon link to books on birds of Arkansas


California



Amazon link to books on birds of California


Colorado



Amazon link to books on birds of Colorado


Connecticut



Amazon link to books on birds of Connecticut


Delaware



Amazon link to books on birds of Delaware


Florida



Amazon link to books on birds of Florida


Georgia



Amazon link to books on birds of Georgia


Hawaii



Amazon link to books on birds of Hawaii


Idaho



Amazon link to books on birds of Idaho


Illinois



Amazon link to books on birds of Illinois


Iowa



Amazon link to books on birds of Iowa


Kansas



Amazon link to books on birds of Kansas


Kentucky



Amazon link to books on birds of Kentucky


Louisiana




Amazon link to books on birds of Louisiana


Maine



Amazon link to books on birds of Maine


Maryland



Amazon link to books on birds of Maryland


Massachusetts



Amazon link to books on birds of Massachusetts


Michigan



Amazon link to books on birds of Michigan


Minnesota



New in 2019:



Amazon link to books on birds of Minnesota


Mississippi




Amazon link to books on birds of Mississippi


Missouri



Amazon link to books on birds of Missouri


Montana



Amazon link to books on birds of Montana


Nebraska



Amazon link to books on birds of Nebraska


Nevada



Amazon link to books on birds of Nevada


New Hampshire



Amazon link to books on birds of New Hampshire


New Jersey



Amazon link to books on birds of New Jersey


New York



Amazon link to books on birds of New York


North Carolina



Amazon link to books on birds of North Carolina


North Dakota



Amazon link to books on birds of North Dakota


Ohio



New for April 2020: Birds of Ohio!

Amazon link to books on birds of Ohio


Oklahoma



Amazon link to books on birds of Oklahoma


Oregon

My wife, Marlene, really likes this beginner's guide to the most common Oregon birds from Lone Pine Publishing.



Hey! Authors Swanson and Smith used many of my personal bird photos to illustrate their wonderful book! Must See Birds of the Pacific Northwest.



Amazon link to books on birds of Oregon


Pennsylvania





Amazon link to books on birds of Pennsylvania


Rhode Island



Amazon link to books on birds of Rhode Island


South Carolina



Amazon link to books on birds of South Carolina


South Dakota



Amazon link to books on birds of South Dakota


Tennessee



Amazon link to books on birds of Tennessee


Texas



Amazon link to books on birds of Texas


Utah



Amazon link to books on birds of Utah


Vermont




Amazon link to books on birds of Vermont


Virginia



Amazon link to books on birds of Virginia


Washington



Amazon link to books on birds of Washington


West Virginia




Amazon link to books on birds of West Virginia


Wisconsin





Amazon link to books on birds of Wisconsin


Wyoming

New in 2017:



Amazon link to books on birds of Wyoming




Related: Best bird watching books for beginners



Monday, September 23, 2019

Sun or shade? Where to hang hummingbird feeder

Once you have selected your hummingbird feeder you need to decide on the best placement. Where is the best place to put hummingbird feeders? Should you hang them in the sun or shade?

Hummingbird feeders should be placed to receive morning sun and afternoon shade. 

Hummingbird nectar can go bad more quickly if the feeder is hanging in the sun all day. However, there are also good reasons for placing your hummingbird feeder so that it does get some sun during the day. And sun isn't the only consideration for proper hummingbird feeder placement.


An open line of sight for hummingbirds to find the feeder


Whether you put the hummingbird feeder in sun or shade it should be placed so that hummingbirds passing through can see it easily. Especially when birds first arrive in spring you want to attract their attention. So having your feeder highly visible from multiple angles is important.

You may also hang red decorations near the feeders to grab the attention of hummingbirds. Hanging baskets of red flowers will also work. Fuchsias and geraniums have red blooms in early spring that will quickly grab the attention of hummingbirds and add an attractive landscaping element to your entry or porch.

If your neighbors have active hummingbird feeders you may want to place your new feeder in line of sight of your neighbor's feeder. That way, if they show up for hummingbird food at your neighbor's feeder they will see yours also. Then they will quickly come to inspect it!

Once you have several hummingbirds regularly visiting your feeder you can move it if you think it is getting too much sun. How do you tell if your feeder is getting too much sun? Read on!


Photo of male Allen's Hummingbird in flowering shrub
Allen's Hummingbird
Photo by Greg Gillson

Beautiful morning sunlight for observing hummingbirds


There's nothing like the gem-like brilliance of iridescent hummingbird plumage in the golden glow of early morning sunshine. No doubt you'll want to have your hummingbird feeders set up to catch the first rays of sun. After the day starts to warm, though, you may want to have your feeder enter the shade.

Where to hang hummingbird feeder? Of course, you have to be able to see the feeder in order to enjoy it fully. The best place to hang your hummingbird feeder is where you will see it from inside your home. Hummingbirds visit your feeder first thing in the day. As soon as the day begins at sunrise hummingbirds start coming to your feeder. So, what window will you be looking out first thing in the morning? This will be your "morning feeder."

Hummingbirds also increase their visits to feeder in the evening, frequently well after sunset. They load up on calories to get through the cooler nights. It may be that you will want to set up a second hummingbird feeder to watch the hummingbirds in the afternoon and evening. There's no reason not to have more than one feeder!

Remember, too, that your most dominant hummingbird will choose an exposed perch in view of the hummingbird feeder. From this taller vantage point the dominant bird (often a male) will chase away any other hummingbirds. But also, this exposed perch will also likely be in the sun showing the brilliant plumage to great advantage.


Is it ok to put hummingbird feeders in the sun?


You might think that nectar in a glass hummingbird feeder might get very hot in the summer sun all day. Could such hot liquids burn the tongue of hummingbirds? No one would want to do that! Should hummingbird feeders be placed in the shade for this reason?

Evidently not. According to the information I could find (source), liquids in a hummingbird feeder only get a maximum of about 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than surrounding air temperature. That wouldn't be hot enough to burn skin (or tongue) even on the hottest summer day. That's very good to know.

Hummingbird feeders placed in direct sun will not burn the hummingbirds coming for a drink. But there is another reason for placing hummingbird feeders in the shade.


Keep hummingbird feeders in the shade to keep the nectar from spoiling quickly


The most important reason to keep the hummingbird feeder in the shade is to make the hummingbird food last longer without spoiling. That sugar water in the sun can quickly grow colonies of bacteria and mold. Bacteria often displays as cloudy hummingbird nectar. Mold is dark patches growing on the inside surface of the hummingbird feeders.

If your hummingbird food is cloudy, or if you see dark patches growing on the inside of the feeder, take your feeder down immediately. Discard the remaining liquid. Clean, wash, scrub, and rinse the feeder. Add fresh hummingbird nectar.

Even if you do not notice signs of bacteria or mold it is a good idea to change your nectar every 3 days in hot weather and at least once a week in cool weather. If you notice that hummingbirds aren't feeding as often, appearing perhaps to have abandoned a feeder that still has liquid in it, it may be a good idea to clean the feeder and change the nectar.

Remember to always thoroughly wash your feeder between fillings. Do not "top off" a feeder. Always wash the feeder before adding more nectar. It may be a bit of work, but it is worth it to keep your hummingbirds healthy and coming back.

Obviously, the more sun your feeders receive the more quickly the nectar will go bad. Feeders in the full summer sun all day may need changed every other day to keep from spoiling. Feeders in the shade will last longer before spoiling.

I always recommend only filling feeders with as much nectar as the hummingbirds drink within the time period that the feeders need cleaned. Thus, feeders in full sun should only have enough nectar that hummingbirds drink it all in 2 days. That way you never have excess nectar spoiling in the sun. Hummingbirds will quickly return to an empty feeder if you clean and refill it with a day or two.


Photo of hummingbird feeder placed in the shade of a patio
My current hummingbird feeder hangs at the corner of the patio.
It receives morning sun, quite a bit of shade during the day. It's outside my desk window.
Large plants protect it from the wind and provide hiding places for the birds.

Protecting the hummingbird feeder from the wind


Hummingbird feeders tend to swing in the wind. The food can quickly spill out in windy conditions. Besides offering an empty feeder to the hummingbirds, the spilled sugar fluid will likely attract ants or other pests.

A location with shade may also offer some protection from the wind, whether it is under the eaves, next to a wall, or under a tree. Hummingbirds don't mind if the feeder is gently swaying in the soft breeze. But they will likely avoid a wildly swinging and twisting feeder in strong winds. So a shaded location may provide this added calming benefit.


A place for hummingbirds to hide


A feeder placed out in the open may leave hummingbirds feeling exposed and vulnerable. They may desire a substantial bush in which to hide or rest within 5 feet or so of the feeder. If protection is farther away the birds may leave the yard completely every time they are startled just a bit. If they have a nearby place of safety they are likely to spend more time in the yard.

A dominant hummingbird will also try to chase away all interlopers. A dense bush nearby for the less dominant birds to hide in may allow them to wait their turn when the dominant bird is chasing someone else!

Do you have a large shrub or small bushy tree that can provide both shade during the hottest part of the day and protection too? That's be the best place to put hummingbird feeders.

Hummingbird feeders should be off the ground at least 5 feet, though. This will keep them above the pouncing height of most cats. Cats may lie in wait on the ground under a very dense bush to try to get to birds at your feeder. This includes hummingbirds.




Conclusion


We discussed having an open line of sight so hummingbirds can find your feeder as they fly by--especially in spring when the birds first arrive.

We talked about where to set up your feeders to view them from your windows that you'll be looking out in the morning.

It is okay to have hummingbird feeders in the sun all day, but the nectar will last longer without spoiling in the shade.

Having some protection from the wind will keep nectar from spilling out.

Placing feeders near a bush or small tree may provide a hiding place for the hummingbirds and make them feel more secure in your yard, as well as provide some additional shade.




Read next: What happens if you put out 2 hummingbird feeders?

Also: When to put out and take down your feeders in each state!




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