Here’s yet another thing to attribute to climate change: Missouri birds.
The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count came up with 109 separate species of birds at the Four Rivers Conservation Area about 80 miles south of Kansas City. Almost as many species were spotted at the Loess Bluffs (formerly Squaw Creek) National Wildlife Refuge about 95 miles north of here.
That’s a lot. One might even say it’s too many.
“You wouldn’t have seen these totals in Missouri 20 years ago,” ornithologist Mark Robbins told the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Climate change is definitely influencing this.”
The aptly named Robbins is the ornithology collections manager at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and a count organizer. He said some species were hanging around because of the mild temperatures in autumn and early winter. Some species that were spotted, including greater yellowlegs, least sandpiper and eastern phoebe, would normally have migrated south by the time the count was conducted on Dec. 18.
(We’re guessing the current cold front has since pushed them on.)
You can check The Audubon Society to find the lists of birds spotted in Missouri and at other count locations.
At Topeka, for example, 86 species were counted.
The most numerous species reported in Missouri was the common grackle at 270,000, but that has to be an estimate.
Just 79 eastern bluebirds — Missouri’s state bird — were counted at Four Rivers.
And spotters could find only one American white pelican, although one presumes there was another one around somewhere.