On the lookout for neotropical birds in Missouri

ICADS30th Anniversary, Conservation, Costa Rica, Environment, Latin America, Research, Study Abroad, Sustainability

By David Norman

Lots of birds have two homes thousands of miles from each other, one that gives them lots of food for raising babies, and another to keep them fit until the next breeding season. In the ICADS field course we see birds in Costa Rica from October to April that by the month of May have flown away to North America to breed and nest. I have an old group of friends from my high school and college days that I go birding with back in my home state of Missouri and they jokingly like to ask me if I’m looking for “my birds from Costa Rica”.  Some months ago when our group saw a bright red summer tanager singing from the top of a white oak, I must admit I was secretly wishing he was the same bird I saw one day in the ICADS patio.  And although I see such migrants as Swainson’s thrushes, Tennessee warblers and Black-throated green warblers quite often in Costa Rica, I know I won’t find them in Missouri since they go up to forests in the very northernmost U.S. and Canada for nesting.

In a couple of mornings of birding on my friends’ property (almost all forested) in the southern Missouri Ozarks, we observed 27 species of migratory birds who, if they don’t spend their winter in Costa Rica, at least pass through it on their way further south.  This time I even got a good look at the shy Kentucky warbler, who likes to hop around on the ground in well-shaded forests.