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Tens of millions of birds will migrate through St. Louis and Quincy this month

Lesser Yellowlegs is a tall shorebird found in shallow, weedy wetlands and flooded fields during migration.
Steven Biegler
National Audubon Society
Lesser Yellowlegs is a tall shorebird found in shallow, weedy wetlands and flooded fields during migration.

Sixty percent of North American songbirds, 40% of the continent’s waterfowl and many species of shorebirds will migrate through St. Louis in the next few weeks, according to the St. Louis Audubon Society. Just last night, an estimated 4,498,500 birds crossed St. Louis County.

The birds are following the Mississippi Flyway — the largest migratory pathway used by birds in North America. They stop in areas like St. Louis and Quincy, Illinois, because the Mississippi River is abundant in food, shelter and breeding grounds. The event draws another kind of migration to these areas — that of bird-watchers and researchers.

Tara Hohman at St. Louis Public Radio
Emily Woodbury
Tara Hohman is a conservation science manager for Audubon’s Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri region.

“Everyone's very excited about all of the warblers moving through, especially. Most of these warblers are going to keep moving through, heading on to the boreal forest up north,” said Tara Hohman, Conservation Science Manager for Audubon’s Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri region. “They're bright, they're colorful, they attract the eye of almost anyone who's around. … They hook you immediately as a bird lover.”

She added that warblers and other songbirds can be seen in any natural area, including city parks and even backyards.

“While we have some great locations in our area — the [Great] Missouri Birding Trail, for instance, lists out a ton of great sites that people can see near and far within the state — even just getting started in your backyard, that's the best way to do it,” Hohmann said. “Then, venture from some of your city parks to some of your surrounding natural areas. It's really easy to get out there and find a community and birders. And they're really easy to spot because they all have cameras or binoculars, and they're more than happy to share information with you.”

Hohmann joined Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air to discuss tips for bird-watching this spring, the threats facing many bird species traveling through the area and what people can do to help revitalize bird habitat in the region. Hear the conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast or Stitcher or by clicking the play button below.

Tara Hohmann shares bird-watching tips for this month’s spring bird migration

Related Event
What: Spring migration
When: Mid-April to mid-May
Where: Across the St. Louis region, particularly in areas along the Mississippi River

A blackpoll warbler in St. Louis
Doug Hommert
Blackpoll warblers weigh less than half an ounce yet make the longest overwater journey of any songbird — nearly 1,800 miles nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean to its wintering grounds. This photo was taken in St. Louis by a local birder and photographer.

Did you know: Exterior glass, whether clear, tinted or reflective, is not a recognizable part of the natural world for birds. During the day, glass reflects the images of trees and sky that appear to birds like a friendly flight path.

St. Louis Public Radio’s building in Grand Center is beautiful, but its many windows are dangerous to birds that mistake the sky's reflection for a safe place to fly. The station is raising funds to outfit our entire building with bird safe window decals which will break up the reflection and prevent deadly window strikes. Click here to make a gift to STLPR’s bird safety project.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.