St. Louis, MO area 4/5-8/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I flew to St. Louis, Missouri for a long weekend. My oldest son and my youngest granddaughter both had birthdays on Saturday. It was also great to see my middle son, both of my daughters-in-law, my other two granddaughters (one almost 5 and the other almost 3), and other family and a few friends. I did have time to do some birding while I was there. I really wanted to see some of the elusive sparrows and longspurs that migrate north the the Mississippi River valley, but didn't see any of them. However, I did get to see quite a few avian species.

Elsberry, MO 4/5/13

A friend of my oldest son jointly owns some farm property adjacent to the large wildlife management area near Elsberry, Missouri. I had been to this WMA once before on my only birding trip with my late brother, Dave. The farm land had large wetland areas and unharvested corn fields. Narrow levies between fields and wetland areas offered easy access to various places to do some birding. As soon as we got there, I saw large numbers of ducks and other shorebirds in the wetlands, and by the time we left, we had seen 24 avian species there.


Ducks and shorebirds


Ducks and shorebirds


Ducks and shorebirds

We saw a few shorebirds - most of them were Greater Yellowlegs, but one was tricky to identify - my best guess is that it was a Pectoral Sandpiper, although the tail doesn't look quite right to me for that species. Any other opinions would be appreciated.


Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs


Pectoral Sandpiper


Pectoral Sandpiper

We saw five species of ducks and a large flock of American Coots.


Northern Shoveler


Gadwalls


Mallard


Green-winged Teals


Blue-winged Teal


American Coots

My middle granddaughter was a real trooper. She birded with me and her dad for about two hours, and she took bird "pictures" next to me when I took them.


First bird walk


First bird photos

An Eastern Meadowlark made a close fly-by, and we saw a small flock of Wilson's Snipes and a few Killdeers. The only sparrows I saw there were Song and Swamp Sparrows.


Eastern Meadowlark


Eastern Meadowlark


Wilson's Snipe


Wilson's Snipes


Killdeer


Song Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow

Other species that we saw there included American Kestrel, American Crow, Turkey Vulture, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Flicker, Eastern Phobe, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Starling, and Mourning Dove. A few deer were seen running across a field.


Deer

Later that afternoon, we sat on my son's deck in St. Louis County. He had hung a new bird feeder, but the birds hadn't found it yet. My granddaughter took a bucket of bird seed and scattered it on the ground below the feeder, and that attracted some birds that foraged on the ground. In his back yard we saw White-throated and House Sparrows, Cardinals, Bluebirds, Phoebes, Dark-eyed Juncos, and American Robins. A Red-tailed Hawk soared overhead, and then we were treated to a pair of Eurasian Tree Sparrows - only found in North American within about a 30-mile radius of St. Louis.


Female House Sparrow


Male House Sparrow


Male House Sparrow


White-throated Sparrow


Dark-eyed Junco


Northern "St. Louis" Cardinal


Eurasian Tree Sparrows


Eurasian Tree Sparrows


Eurasian Tree Sparrow


Eurasian Tree Sparrow


Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Early the next morning I was looking out of a window, watching birds forage below the feeder. A male Cardinal was gathering seed and feeding the female Cardinal - a common bird behavior to demonstrate food gathering ability. The female was normally colored from the bottom of her head down, but except for a brown tuft on the top of her head, her head was entirely white - leucistic, for sure, but I wish I had my camera handy.

Babler State Park 4/6/13

Later that morning I headed over to my middle son's house, and he and I took my oldest granddaughter to Babler State Park for her first birding trip. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and very windy, and all we saw were Phoebes, Cardinals, Robins, Carolina Chickadees, Anerican Crows, Bluebirds, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a Ruby(?)-crowned Kinglet. I was surprised when my little birder asked "What other habitats are we going to see?" She watches lots of wildlife programs on television!


Eastern Bluebird


Eastern Phoebe


Dark-eyed Junco


Ruby(?)-crowned Kinglet

Rockwood Reservation 4/8/13

I had a couple of hours on Monday morning before my flight home, and accepted an invitation from Dave Pierce, a birding pal of my late brother's, to see the Barred Owl near his home and then do some nearby birding. Dave walked with me to the owl box, and warned me that the owl would shoot out of the box like a rocket as soon as he tapped the tree, and to be ready. Sure enough, it only took a second, and all I could get was one photo of it.


Barred Owl

We headed over to Rockwood Reservation, and saw a Red-shouldered Hawk perched near the entrance. In the distance behind the hawk, I thought I saw another one, and when we parked and walked over there, we saw the second hawk in her nest.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk in her nest

As we drove slowly, stopping at a few locations, we saw Carolina Chickadees, Bluebirds, Phoebes, Cardinals, American Goldfinches, Chipping Sparrows, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Turkey Vultures. I was able to get some photos of a Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, and a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. At the far end of the drive, Dave pointed out another Red-shouldered Hawk nest.


Louisiana Waterthrush


Louisiana Waterthrush


Yellow-rumped Warbler


White-breasted Nuthatch


juvenile Cooper's Hawk


Tufted Titmouse


Red-shouldered Hawk in her nest



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