Iowa & Missouri: Spring 2020

Spring 2020: 1 Mar–31 May

Ryan N. Douglas

Joshua P. Uffman

Recommended citation:

Douglas, R. and J.P. Uffman. Spring 2020: Iowa & Missouri. <> North American Birds.

A warmer-than-normal winter bled into spring across Iowa and Missouri, with both states averaging March temperatures around 5°F above historical averages. Both states also experienced their wettest March in over a decade. The warmth of winter and early spring ended abruptly in April, with each state experiencing below-normal temperatures. The chilly April saw unusual midmonth snow fall across southern Iowa and northern Missouri. The cool temperatures of April persisted into May, when Missouri saw its coldest weather in nearly two decades. Precipitation was about normal for Missouri in April, but below average in Iowa. In May, Missouri’s precipitation was above normal, while Iowa’s was about normal.

Although COVID-19 arrived and shut down many parts of life during the spring season, birders managed to get out and document several rarities across the region. Highlight species included Mottled Duck, Ruff, Mew Gull, Yellow-billed Loon, Burrowing Owl, Vermilion Flycatcher, Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Bullock’s Oriole, and Western Tanager.

Sub-regional Compilers

Connor P. Langan (Iowa), Lisa Berger (Missouri).


Green Island (Green Island Wildlife Area, Jackson Co, IA); Hawkeye (Hawkeye Wildlife Area, Johnson Co, IA); Loess Bluffs (Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Holt Co, MO); Riverlands (Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles Co, MO); Saylorville (Saylorville Reservoir, Polk Co, IA); Smithville Lake (Smithville Lake, Clay Co, MO); Stockton Lake (Stockton Lake, Cedar, Dade, and Polk Cos, MO), * (documentation accepted).

Waterfowl through Cranes

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks continued to surge into Missouri. This season’s reports came from seven counties, with 15 in St. Louis Co 22 May being the northernmost (Cheryl Rosenfeld) and 40 in Scott Co 25 Apr being the highest count (Gary Sinn fide Mark Haas). Both states hosted six drake Cinnamon Teal 29 Mar–26 Apr. The easternmost individuals came from Green Island 4–5 Apr (ph. Tony Moline, m. ob.) and Mingo NWR, Stoddard Co, MO 7–9 Apr (ph. Lisa McClendon, m. ob.). Missouri’s 10th Mottled Duck was at Clarence Cannon NWR, Pike Co 18 Apr–4 May (ph.*Jerry Hemmersmeyer, ph.*Pete Monacell, ph.*Bill Rowe, ph.*Peter Kondrashov, ph.*Joshua Uffman, m. ob.) and MO’s 11th was across the state at Loess Bluffs 29 Apr–19 May (ph.*Tom Nagel, David Easterla). In IA, 3100 Northern Pintails at Saylorville 6 Mar (John Williamson), 1650 Canvasbacks at Hawkeye 4 Mar (Brandon Caswell), and 260 Redheads in Butler Co 16 Mar (Mark Welford) were all region highs. Iowa Ring-necked Duck numbers increased dramatically this spring with highs of 2573 at Green Island 1 Apr (Kelly McKay) and about 1000 at Otter Creek Marsh, Tama Co 8 Mar (Ken Saunders). A single male Greater Scaup at Cedar River Access, Johnson Co, IA was the last 30–31 May (ph. Mark Brown). An incredible total of 12,000 Lesser Scaup were noted at Eagle Point Park, Clinton Co, IA 31 Mar (Kelly McKay). 

Surf Scoters made their way to seven sites in the region. Three in Appanoose Co tied the third-latest IA record (Paul Egeland, ph. Thomas Johnson), while four in Scott Co set a record-high spring total for MO 27 Mar–7 Apr (ph. Mark Haas, ph. Allen Gathman, m. ob.). There were two White-winged Scoters at Fellows Lake, Greene Co, MO 5 Apr (Glen Kropf, Steve Martin, ph. Debbie Martin) and one 21 Apr in Jackson Co, IA (Bob Walton). Single Long-tailed Ducks stopped at three IA sites and one MO site, while two were in Dickinson Co, IA 11 Mar (Derek Bakken, Dana Siefer). Buffleheads peaked at 470 at Green Island 1 Apr (Kelly McKay). Common Mergansers numbering 6100 at Red Rock Reservoir, Marion Co, IA 1 Mar was the peak (Aaron Brees), while a single at Eagle Bluffs CA, Boone Co, MO 31 May was the last (ph. Paul McKenzie, m. ob.). 

Twenty-eight Ring-necked Pheasants in Louisa Co, IA was the region’s highest total 6 May (Kelly McKay). No more than two Gray Partridge were observed in each of 14 IA counties as far south as Dallas and Polk Cos. Records of single Ruffed Grouse came from two separate Allamakee Co, IA sites (Susan LeMaster, Eric Ollie). Iowa’s only Greater Prairie-Chicken reports came from their stronghold at the Kellerton Wildlife Area, Ringgold Co, where up to 17 were present. In MO, 12 were at Dunn Ranch, Harrison Co 26 Apr (Terry McNeely, m. ob.), 5 at Taberville Prairie, St. Clair Co 8 Apr (ph. Dan Cowell), and a single at Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie, Cedar Co 21 Apr (David Blevins, Barbara Blevins). 

A Horned Grebe at Smithville Lake set a latest record for MO 29 May (ph. Mike Niles, *Terry Miller). Five Red-necked Grebe reports came from four IA counties, while two at Stockton Lake was MO’s sole report 10 Apr (ph. Zach Haring). Eared Grebes were seen in an impressive 14 Iowa counties. Peak counts included 16 in Dallas Co, MO 13 Apr (ph. Zach Haring) and 31 in Buena Vista Co, IA 21 May (ph. Stephen Dinsmore). Up to three Western Grebes visited three Iowa sites 3–24 May. In MO, singles stopped at Stockton Lake 18 Apr (Ricky Hostetler, Debbie Martin, Steve Martin, m. ob.) and Riverlands 17–24 Apr (Paul Moffett, m. ob.). Up to two White-winged Doves were found at eight MO locations and up to three were regularly seen throughout the season in their Kennett, Dunklin Co, MO stronghold (Kent Freeman). 

Iowa Black-billed Cuckoo reports started rolling in from 24 counties 16 May, with a high of four at Hawkeye 31 May (Mark Brown). Missouri’s first Common Nighthawk of the season tied the second-earliest record in Dunklin Co 24 Apr (Kent Freeman) with a decent count of 66 on 23 May in Polk Co, IA (Aaron Brees). Four Chimney Swifts in Dunklin Co 28 Mar tied MO’s second-earliest spring record (Kent Freeman). In MO, 44 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at a Clay Co residence 9–11 Apr set a record-high spring count (Sherryl McMillin), while another 40 in Bollinger Co established the second-highest spring count. A Selasphorus sp. was in Greene Co, IA 19 May (Colleen Radebaugh). 

All King Rail reports came from MO, with two at Loess Bluffs 18 May (Doug Willis) and two more in Lincoln Co 29–31 May (Bruce Schuette, Doug Hommert). Up to nine Common Gallinules were observed in five IA counties, while up to seven were observed in six MO counties. A peak of 12,054 American Coots came from Jackson Co, IA 1 Apr (Kelly McKay). Sandhill Cranes were observed in at least 10 widespread MO counties, and 45 in Allamakee Co, IA 26 Mar was the region’s highest total (Billy Reiter-Marolf).


Eight IA counties hosted Black-necked Stilts in 2020, after only two reports in 2019. Two American Avocets at Hawkeye 6 Apr tied IA’s second-earliest record (James Forde). At Stockton Lake, 200 set a record-high count for MO 17 Apr (Ricky Hostettler, ph. Christian Hawn, Conway Hawn). Southern MO had four counts of at least 1000 American Golden-Plovers, with a high of 2500 in Dunklin Co 2 Apr (Timothy Jones). Missouri had a banner year for Piping Plovers, with observations coming from nine locations, including a high of five in Dade Co 18 Apr (ph. Christian Hawn, Conway Hawn). Up to five Whimbrel were at Hawkeye 11–16 May (Jonah Alderson, Jamie Tigges, Steven Freed), while an unprecedented 58 established a MO record-high count at Riverlands 24 May (ph. Dave Haenni, m. ob.). Ten Hudsonian Godwits at Loess Bluffs 9 Apr were MO’s first of the year (Doug Willis), while 10 in Woodbury Co the next day were IA’s. Loess Bluffs held the highest Hudsonian Godwit counts with 100–422 present 12–19 Apr (Mary Nemecek, m. ob.). Twenty-two Marbled Godwits there 22 Apr tied MO’s record high (ph. Mark Robbins). Twenty-seven Ruddy Turnstones at Hawkeye 14 May was an impressive total for the region (James Forde). A trio of Red Knots in Lincoln Co 14–15 May were only the second MO spring record since 2004 (ph. Jerry Hemmersmeyer, m. ob.). 

Ruffs put on a good show in the region, with a breeding plumage male 11–16 Apr at Hawkeye tying IA’s second-earliest record (ph. *Dean Hester, ph. *Brandon Caswell, *Chris Edwards, *Jim Kettelkamp, m. ob.). In MO, singles were present in New Madrid Co 8–9 Apr (ph. Tim Kavan), St. Charles Co 18–19 Apr (ph. Joshua Uffman, m. ob.), and at Loess Bluffs 5–16 May (ph. Tom Nagel, David Easterla, m. ob.). Twenty-eight Sanderlings (James Forde) and 170 Dunlins (Craig Kruse, James McCoy), both 16 May, and 800 Pectoral Sandpipers 21 Apr (Steven Freed) all came from Hawkeye and were the region’s peak counts. 

The first three White-rumped Sandpipers in the region established first- and second-earliest arrival dates for MO: Cole Co 17 Apr (Chris Barrigar, ph. *Paul McKenzie, ph. *Pete Monacell) and Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Boone Co 17–18 Apr (*Kathleen Anderson, ph. *Pete Monacell, m. ob.); then one at Schell-Osage Conservation Area, Vernon Co 18 Apr (ph. *Christian Hawn, Conway Hawn). Above-average Western Sandpiper reports were noted this spring, with one to two at five locations 14 Apr–12 May. Missouri’s first three Solitary Sandpipers set first- and second-earliest arrival records: 20 Mar in St. Louis Co (*Joshua Uffman) and then singles the next day in Christian Co (ph. Debbie Martin, Steve Martin) and St. Charles Co (ph. Jessie Goodwin, Tommy Goodwin). Hawkeye was a stopping-over point for approximately 3000 Lesser Yellowlegs 30 Apr (Jesse Ellis), while Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Boone Co, MO saw more than 5000 Lesser Yellowlegs after a front passed 28 Apr (Paul McKenzie). Willets had a fantastic showing in the region: 75 at Saylorville 12 May (Stephen Dinsmore); 118 at Stockton Lake 2 May, setting a new high count for MO (Ricky Hostetler, ph. Christian Hawn, Conway Hawn); and 79 at Riverlands 27 Apr, setting a new high count for eastern MO (ph. Cathy Spahn, David Haenni, m. ob.). Single Red-necked Phalarope reports came from three IA and two MO sites starting 2 May and ending with two in Johnson Co, IA 30 May (ph. Mark Brown).

Gulls through Pelicans

A Bonaparte’s Gull in Louisa Co 1 Mar was IA’s third-earliest spring arrival (ph. James McCoy, Jason McCurdy). Missouri hosted the only Laughing Gulls, all singles: St. Charles Co 11 Mar (ph. David Haenni); Clarence Cannon NWR, Pike Co 24 Apr (ph. Doug Hommert); and Greene Co 15 May (Kendell Loyd). A Mew Gull at Smithville Lake 11 Mar was MO’s second (ph. *Doug Willis, ph. Lisa Owens, ph. Kristi Mayo, ph. Mary Nemecek). An adult California Gull lingering from the winter season remained at Smithville Lake through 16 Mar (ph. *Mary Nemecek, m. ob.). Iowans reported Iceland Gulls in five counties, including a high of three at Credit Island Park, Scott Co 2 Mar (James Forde). In MO, a well-described kumlieni was at Riverlands 2 Mar (Bill Rowe), and a thayeri was at Smithville Lake 19 Mar (ph. Marky Mutchler, Mary Nemecek). Incredibly, Lesser Black-backed Gulls were noted in nine IA counties 2 Mar–23 Apr, with a high of four at Credit Island Park, Scott Co 2 Mar (Steven Freed). In MO, three widely separated singles were found, including a first-cycle bird that tied the latest spring record at Riverlands 18 May (Bill Rowe, Tom Parmeter). Single Glaucous Gulls were at one MO site and two IA sites 1 Mar–3 Apr. An adult Great Black-backed Gull was at Little Storm Lake, Buena Vista Co, IA 22 Mar (ph. *Dana Siefer, ph. Joe Jungers) and a first-cycle at Deere Dike, Dubuque Co set the latest spring record for IA 24 May (ph. *Tony Moline, ph. *David Shealer). 

Two Least Terns at Lake Manawa, Pottawattamie Co 16 May were the only IA report (Stephen Dinsmore), while 15 at Riverlands 24 May was the highest count (Paul McKenzie, Al Smith). Caspian Terns peaked 14 May in Iowa, with 85 at Cedar Lake, Linn Co (James Forde) and 61 at Green Island (Bob Walton). A respectable high count of 43 Common Terns was at Saylorville 12 May (Stephen Dinsmore). Three single Red-throated Loons brought the total count of MO spring records to at least 16: Longview Lake, Jackson Co 4–5 Apr (ph. Eric Walters); Fellows Lake, Greene Co 12–13 Apr (ph. *David Blevins, ph. Debbie Martin, *Steve Martin, *Kendell Loyd, ph. *Zach Haring); and 22–27 Apr at Smithville Lake (ph. *Doug Willis, m. ob.). Single Pacific Loons were at distant parts of Stockton Lake 22 Apr (*Steve Martin, ph. Debbie Martin) and 13–15 May (ph. *Austin Hess, ph. Trey McCuen, Christopher Gilbert). An all-time-record high of 266 Common Loons was established for MO at Stockton Lake 9 Apr (Reggie Swartzentruber). Finally, Stockton Lake also hosted MO’s third Yellow-billed Loon 4 Apr–20 May (Zane Hostetler, ph. *Paul McKenzie, ph. *Pete Monacell, ph. *Peter Kondrashov, ph. *Dorothy Thurman, ph. *Tony Elliott, m. ob.). 

An Anhinga in St. Louis Co 10–11 May was only the second spring record away from the MO bootheel (ph. *Yvonne Homeyer, ph. * Lisa Saffell, ph. *David Becher, m. ob). Four MO reports and one IA report of single Neotropic Cormorants all came from the western half of the region. In MO, an immature at Smithville Lake established the earliest spring record 11–18 Mar (ph. *Doug Willis, m. ob.) and the next at Schell-Osage Conservation Area, St. Clair Co 15–17 Mar established the second-earliest (Tony Elliott, m. ob.). A flight of 3465 Double-crested Cormorants at Smithville Lake 14 Mar set a record-high count for MO (Pete Monacell, Paul McKenzie).

Herons through Vireos

A Great Egret at Cone Marsh, Louisa Co tied IA’s record-earliest date 7 Mar (ph. Dawn Gunderson). The region’s only Tricolored Heron was at Loess Bluffs 22–30 Apr (Doug Willis, Mark Robbins, m. ob.). In St. Louis City, MO a rookery was found to hold 18 Snowy Egrets and 95 Black-crowned Night-Herons (Bill Rowe, m. ob.). Single Glossy Ibises were noted at six IA and three MO sites 14 Apr-24 May. White-faced Ibises put on quite a show, with a high of 42 at Trumbull Lake, Clay Co, IA 19 Apr (Lee Schoenewe) and an all-time-record high for MO of 204 at Loess Bluffs 22 Apr (Doug Willis). Further east in the region, and all in MO 17 Apr, 50 White-faced were in Cole Co (ph. Paul McKenzie, m. ob.) and counts of separate Plegadis flocks numbering 67 (ph. Jessie Goodwin, Tommy Goodwin) and 35 were made in St. Charles Co (Bill Rowe, Cornelius Alwood). 

Missouri’s northwesternmost Black Vulture ever came from Loess Bluffs 13 May (David Easterla). In IA, Red-shouldered Hawks in Cerro Gordo and Greene counties were outside their expected range, 85 Broad-winged Hawks in Johnson Co was the region’s high 22 Apr (Jaden Bowen), and a Rough-legged Hawk 7 May in Clay Co was very tardy (Lee Schoenewe, Joe Jungers). A Burrowing Owl was in Ida Co, IA 1 May (ph. *Don Poggensee). Missouri’s southernmost breeding record of Long-eared Owls, a pair with three owlets, came from Dallas Co 6 Mar–9 May (Rodney Zimmer, Ricky Hostetler, Caleb Wenger, ph. Mark Robbins). A Northern Saw-whet Owl in Mitchell, IA was late 12 May (ph. Tyler Reams fide Paul Skrade). A Merlin pair could be seen incubating eggs in Black Hawk Co, IA in the second half of May (Tom Schilke). A Prairie Falcon at Shawnee Trail CA, Barton Co, MO 7 Mar was the region’s only report (Tony Elliott). 

In IA, 12 Alder Flycatchers in Polk Co 25 May (Karen Viste-Sparkman, Stuart Sparkman) and 30 Least Flycatchers in Story Co 17 May (Stuart Sparkman) were the region’s highest counts. An Eastern Phoebe 2 Mar in Des Moines Co tied IA’s earliest arrival date (Bobby Wilcox). A Say’s Phoebe was in Dade Co, MO 17–28 Mar (*Steve Martin, ph. Debbie Martin, m. ob.). Missouri’s 13th Vermilion Flycatcher was in Lawrence Co 23–24 Apr (Lyndon Hostetler, Steve Martin, ph.*Debbie Martin, m. ob.). Counts of four Loggerhead Shrikes came from three widely separated MO sites, while the northernmost reports came from Boone, Greene, and Story Cos in IA. The southernmost Northern Shrike reports came from Boone and St. Louis Cos, MO 10–23 Mar, while the last was at Saylorville 2 Apr (RJ Thompson). Iowa’s second-earliest spring White-eyed Vireo was in Polk Co 10 Apr (Diane Dentlinger, Dennis Thompson, m. ob.). In MO, the state’s second-highest count of 39 Bell’s Vireo was set 9 May at Prairie State Park, Barton Co (Dana Hoisington) and 23 Yellow-throated Vireos in Christian Co tied the highest spring count 20 Apr (David Blevins, Barbara Blevins). 

Crows through Finches

The northernmost Fish Crows included one or two at separate Buchanan Co locations 30 Apr and 24 May (*Tom Nagel), and another one or two at Saylorville 4–31 May (*Stephen Dinsmore, *Tyler Harms, *John Bissell, *Aaron Brees, m. ob.). After regular high counts of over 100 Horned Larks in recent years in IA, the 2020 high count was a paltry 16 on 6 May in Louisa Co 6 May (Kelly McKay). A Northern Rough-winged Swallow at Deere Dike, Dubuque Co, 3 Apr tied IA’s third-earliest record (David Shealer) and a Purple Martin 19 Mar at the appropriately named Purple Martin Resource Area, Polk Co was IA’s second earliest (ph. RJ Thompson). A Red-breasted Nuthatch lingered to 29 May in Woodbury Co, IA (Benjamin Carlson). 

A single Winter Wren in Boone Co tied MO’s second-latest spring record 9 May (Kevyn Wiskirchen), while one in Cole Co 11 May tied MO’s latest spring record (Austin Lambert). Both states saw excellent counts of Sedge Wrens. Missouri checked in with a new record-high spring count of 43 in Barton Co 26 Apr (Doug Willis), and IA had a high count of 27 at Neal Smith NWR, Jasper Co 9 May (Carl Schimmel). Fifty-eight Marsh Wrens were at Legacy WA, Hardin Co, IA 12 May (Connor Langan). After two springs with no Bewick’s Wren reports in IA, one returned to the Argyle Junkyard, Lee Co. starting 18 Apr (James McCoy). A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Black Hawk Co 4 Apr tied IA’s earliest spring record (Alan Orr, Karen Orr). 

A Mountain Bluebird continuing from the winter season at Deere Dike, Dubuque Co, IA remained until 27 Mar (Tony Moline). In Clay Co, MO nocturnal flight call counts resulted in 14 Veeries 15 May, 92 Gray-cheeked Thrushes 13 May, and a whopping 255 Swainson’s Thrushes 13 May (Marky Mutchler). In IA, the same protocol resulted in a tally of 82 Swainson’s Thrushes 14 May in Linn Co (Jesse Ellis). A Hermit Thrush at Carondelet Park, St. Louis City established a record-late date for MO 15 May (ph. Andy Reago, *Chrissy McClarren). Twenty-four Wood Thrushes at Wildcat Den SP, Muscatine Co 15 May was the highest count of the year in IA (Kelly McKay), while MO set an all-time-record high of 28 at Weldon Spring CA, St. Charles Co 31 May (Bill Rowe). 

Sixty Gray Catbirds in Louisa Co 6 May (Kelly McKay) and 19 Brown Thrashers in Story Co 26 Apr (Eric Ollie) were impressive highs for the region, both in IA. IA’s first Sage Thrasher since 1985 was at Saylorville 4–5 May (ph. *Stephen Dinsmore, *Ann Johnson, *Tyler Harms, ph. *Aaron Brees, m. ob.). Two American Pipits in Johnson Co 23 May established a second-latest IA record (James McCoy), while one in Winneshiek Co, IA was still notably late 18 May (Paul Skrade). Red Crossbills were at four IA sites and one MO site, including highs of 10 in Linn Co, IA 1 Mar (Paul Morf) and nine in Johnson Co, IA 19 May (Jody Troyer, Chris Troyer). White-winged Crossbill pairs were in O’Brien Co, IA 6 Mar (Lee Schoenewe, Joe Jungers) and Buchanan Co, MO 7 Mar (Robert Irwin, m. ob.). 

Longspurs through Blackbirds

Approximately 400 Lapland Longspurs in Dubuque Co, IA 14 Mar was the region’s highest count (Tony Moline), while one at Legacy WA, Hardin Co 12 May tied IA’s third-latest date (Connor Langan). Single Snow Buntings made it as far south as Worth (John Bissell) and Bremer (Mark Welford) Cos in IA, both 14 Mar. A pair of Lark Sparrows in Jackson Co 1 Apr represent the second-earliest spring record for IA (Kelly McKay). A Clay-colored Sparrow from the winter season remained at Riverlands through 5 Apr (ph. *Bill Rowe, Jim Malone, Tommy Goodwin, m. ob.), while three there 5 May was an impressive high for the eastern side of the region (Tommy Goodwin). Up to two Fox Sparrows at Springfield Conservation Nature Center, Greene Co set the latest MO spring record 12–15 May (ph. *Jordanya Raos, Dan Liles, Eric McMillan). Both MO and IA still had lingering White-crowned Sparrows present 30 May, with the one in St. Louis Co tying the second-latest MO record (ph. Joshua Uffman). Single Harris’s Sparrows in Lincoln Co, MO 15 Mar (Jerry Hemmersmeyer) and St. Louis Co, MO 30 Apr–1 May (ph. Joshua Uffman) were notable in the eastern half of the region. Peak White-throated Sparrow counts included 385 in Boone Co, MO 30 Apr (Paul McKenzie) and 220 in Tama Co, IA 8 May (Connor Langan). Nelson’s Sparrow reports consisted of four at Indian Slough, Louisa Co, IA 6 May (Kelly McKay), two in St. Charles Co, MO (ph. Tommy Goodwin, Jessie Goodwin), and one in Knox Co, MO 20 May (Andrew Hodge). Counts of 45 Henslow’s Sparrows at Neal Smith NWR, Jasper Co, IA 26 May (Gautam Apte) and 41 at Niawathe Prairie, Dade Co, MO 31 May (Kyla Yuza-Pate) were the highest in the region. Iowa’s second-latest Lincoln’s Sparrow was in Van Buren Co 31 May (Sylvia Fredricks). A Spotted Towhee at Apple Creek CA, Cape Girardeau Co 7 Mar was unexpected in southeastern MO (Allen Gathman). 

The highest Yellow-headed Blackbird counts came from IA: 100 in Woodbury Co 23 Apr (Gerald Von Ehwegen) and 125 in Lyon Co 16 May (Douglas Chapman). A quartet of Bobolinks in Cape Girardeau Co tied MO’s earliest spring record 20 Apr (Braden Farris, Dave Nussbaum). Vocalizing Eastern Meadowlarks in Madison Co (Jay Gilliam, Sharon Bauer) and Polk Co (RJ Thompson) tied IA’s second-earliest record 1 Mar. Missouri’s third Bullock’s Oriole was in Dallas Co 7–9 May (Josh Heddings, ph. *Kendell Loyd, ph. *Zach Haring, m. ob.). A Red-winged Blackbird roost in Boone Co, MO grew to an estimated 2.3 million strong 3 Mar (Paul McKenzie, Pete Monacell, Edge Wade, Eric Wood). A Rusty Blackbird in Lincoln Co set MO’s latest spring record 12 May (ph. *Henry Gorski, *Oliver Gorski). 

Warblers through Buntings

Two Worm-eating Warblers singing in separate locations in Christian Co 11 Apr tied MO’s earliest spring record (*David Blevins, Barbara Blevins). Well north of its expected southern MO range, a Swainson’s Warbler returned for the second year to Grindstone Nature Area, Boone Co, MO 27 May (*John Besser, ph. *Paul McKenzie, m. ob.). Montauk State Park, Dent Co, hosted MO’s second-earliest Nashville Warbler 7 Apr (ph. Christian Hawn, Conway Hawn). Connecticut Warblers put on a great show across the region, with many reported. Highlighting the species was one in Palo Alto 6 May that tied IA’s record-early date (Joe Jungers). Twenty-eight Kentucky Warblers at Trail of Tears State Park, Cape Girardeau Co, MO 28 Apr was the region’s highest count (Mark Haas). Hooded Warbler reports skyrocketed this spring, with individuals located in at least 13 counties. Sixty-eight American Redstarts in Clinton Co, IA 21 May was an impressive high count (Kelly McKay). 

A Cape May Warbler at Busch CA, St. Charles Co, MO 21 Apr tied the second-earliest record (ph. Lisa Saffell). Two reports of Magnolia Warbler in Jackson Co 2 May tied IA’s third-earliest record, while 18 at Carondelet Park, St. Louis City tied MO’s second-highest spring count (Andy Reago, Chrissy McClarren). Steyermark Woods CA, Marion Co, hosted 14 Blackburnian Warblers 15 May, setting a record-high spring count for MO (Cory Gregory). Iowa’s second-earliest Yellow Warbler was in Johnson Co 20 Apr (ph. Jody Troyer). Black-throated Blue Warblers visited four sites in the eastern half of the region in each state, with IA’s first tying the third-earliest date for the species in Louisa Co 6 May (Kelly McKay). 

Palm Warblers arrived on record-early dates in both states, with one 8 Apr in Johnson Co tying IA’s earliest arrival date (James Huntington) and one at Little Creve Coeur Marsh, St. Louis Co 7–29 Mar shattering the previous record-early date for MO by almost a month (ph. *Tony Forsythe). Peak Canada Warbler counts of six to eight came from four MO sites and one IA site 16–19 May. 

Western Tanager sightings were well above average: a male in Woodbury Co, IA 28 Apr (*Jerry Probst); a female 7 May at Saylorville (*Dennis Thompson); a male in Cerro Gordo Co, IA 5–11 May (ph. *Carolyn Fischer, *Paul Skrade, Betty Lucas); and MO’s 12th, an adult male, 25 Apr in Jefferson Co (ph. *Glen Hawley, Caleb Hawley). A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak 29 Mar at Little Lost Creek CA, Warren Co tied MO’s second-earliest date (ph. Shirley Foreman, Jack Foreman, ph. Becky Lutz). Fifty-eight Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were tallied using the nocturnal flight call protocol 13 May in Clay Co, MO (Marky Mutchler). Four single Lazuli Buntings made it to the western half of the region: IA’s second earliest in Guthrie Co 28 Apr (ph. *Clayton Will); one 12–18 May in Jackson Co, MO (Sherry Leonardo, Steve Phillips); one in Polk Co, MO 14–20 May (ph. *Zach Haring, *Steve Martin, ph. Debbie Martin, ph. *Pete Monacell, ph. *Paul McKenzie); and one 25 May in Buchanan Co (ph. Tom Nagel). A male Painted Bunting was well north of its expected range in Johnson Co, IA 2–3 May (ph. *Jason McCurdy, ph. *Mark Brown, ph. Brandon Caswell).

Report processed by Joshua Malbin, 7 Aug 2021.

Photos–Iowa & Missouri: Spring 2020

Click image to view fullscreen with caption.