James J. Dinsmore and Stephen J. Dinsmore
This two-state region in the center of the U. S. has a history of ornithological research dating to Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery and including work by Thomas Say, John James Audubon, and others. Birding groups, academic researchers, and wildlife agencies all have contributed to the our growing knowledge of the region’s avifauna. Early studies that emphasized game species have evolved to more holistic studies of forest, prairie, and wetland bird-species communities and their management.
Two of the continent’s longest rivers form all of the region’s eastern and much of the region’s western borders, providing beautiful vistas and a natural pathway for birds. The eastern parts of the region are dominated by deciduous forests with Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, and Cerulean Warbler and the west by mixed shrublands and grasslands with Upland Sandpiper, Orchard Oriole, and Blue Grosbeak. Along the region’s western boundary, the dramatic east-to-west transformation of North America’s avifauna starts, with the appearance of western species like Least Tern, Swainson’s Hawk, and Western Kingbird.
The north-to-south changes are equally striking going from prairie potholes and oak savannahs with Northern Pintail, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the north to the Ozarks and low-country swamps with Greater Roadrunner, Swainson’s Warbler, and Painted Bunting in the south.
Spring and fall bring millions of migrant waterfowl, shorebirds, passerines, and others. In winter, northern visitors include finches, sparrows, owls, and the occasional irruption of Snowy Owls. The dynamic nature of the region’s avifauna is further exemplified by the ongoing range expansions of Black-necked Stilt, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Fish Crow, and Blue Grosbeak. With a regional list of 458 species, there is much to see and enjoy.
The ABA gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Iowa & Missouri Regional Editor James J. Dinsmore and Stephen J. Dinsmore to promoting knowledge and understanding about the birdlife of the continent.