by Joanna and Eric Reuter

Spring is here, and migration is getting underway! A variety of CAS field trips and other community birding opportunities are coming up, so check out the offerings and mark your calendar.  As always, reminder notifications of CAS events go out by email; if you’re not already on the email list, be sure to sign up.

March field trip recap

The March First Friday walk emphasized the brrrr in birding, but the cold drizzle didn’t stop attendees from checking on a Bald Eagle nest; here’s the eBird list. This trip repeats monthly, so hopefully the weather will be nicer in April and May.

The field trip to Gans Creek Recreation Area had good weather and good turnout, with 13 participants who counted 13 Great Blue Heron nests; 12 herons were present at the time of observation, as noted on the eBird list. The real excitement was finding that one nest had been taken over by a Red-tailed Hawk pair that had settled in to make it their own.

The Timberdoodle Trek happened on a lovely clear evening that featured at least four peenting American Woodcocks with a background soundscape of frogs (including the charismatic “laughter” of the Southern Leopard Frogs, which didn’t seem to know this was a woodcock watch, not a snipe hunt). As a bonus, five planets (Mars, Venus, Uranus, Jupiter, and Mercury) made a show in the post-sunset sky. Twenty-three people, including a KBIA reporter, made the trek, and the eBird list includes 18 species. 

Participants gather before sunset to walk to the display grounds of the American Woodcock.

Timberdoodle Trek participants gather before sunset for a walk to the display grounds of the American Woodcock.

The self-guided moss walk is an ongoing opportunity at Wild Haven Nature Area; see this article for more information and inspiration to take this walk, if you haven’t yet. 

Upcoming CAS trips

Please check out the full event listing for an assortment of CAS-sponsored field trips. As always, these are open to everyone, regardless of CAS membership status. Please join us, and bring a friend, too. A limited number of loaner binoculars can be made available for most trips by contacting the field trip leader in advance. 

During April and May, we have trips on both weekdays and weekends (including Saturday and Sunday), as well as morning trips and evening ones. In addition to featuring migrant birds (of course), several trips will also integrate attention to flora:

Don’t forget the First Friday walks at 3M Wetlands in both April and May; the diverse habitats there routinely yield interesting observations. And for something different, come to the dusk walk at Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area to listen for and (hopefully!) hear Chuck-wills-widows and Whip-poor-wills.

That’s what the schedule holds for now. We might add occasional summer field trips, perhaps with a focus on listening skills and/or looking for evidence of nesting. Such trips are especially likely to happen if we hear interest from members; email Eric to express interest.  

Other birding opportunities

Here are a few events that aren’t sponsored by CAS but that might be of interest to newsletter readers. 

The Missouri Birding Society’s Spring Meeting is April 28 through the 30 at Cape Girardeau.

Prairie Garden Trust is hosting a bird walk on May 6 starting at 8 a.m. Group size is limited, and pre-registration is required through the PGT website.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Global Big Day is coming up on May 13, 2023. Birders from around the world are encouraged to submit sightings through eBird. Also be on the lookout in The Chat for CAS-sponsored bird monitoring on that date. 

Do-it-yourself birding throughout the spring: Field trips are generally scheduled far in advance, but the birds don’t always show up exactly on cue. The best birding often coincides with certain weather conditions that stop big pulses of migrants in our area. The BirdCast website allows users to gain insight into migration activity via forecasts and nightly radar tracking of actual migration activity. If you can’t be outside every day yet want to maximize your birding experience, this is a valuable tool to get to know.

Happy birding, and we hope to see you this spring in the field!