Many of the forest tracts in this region are demonstrations of key forest management practices intended to restore and maintain these habitats, and thebird diversity present in the region is evidence of these efforts. All of Missouri’s woodpecker species can be found in the region. Red-breasted Nuthatches arrive to these forests in the fall, alongside loud flocks of Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll, which love the more open woodland and savannas of this region. These savannas and open woodlands provide great winter birding. Winter sparrows abound during the colder months, including Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, and many different species of finch. Summer brings Acadian Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and a wide-range of wood warblers. The tall canopies of these forests are especially favored by these migrants. Bobolink, Dickcissel, and Blue Grosbeak frequent the more open fields and savanna during summer months.
The northeast region of the birding trail is a landscape characterized large tracts of quality forest, rolling savannas, wetlands, and many huge reservoir lakes. Crop fields, pastures, and brushy fencerows dominate this pastoral countryside. The great Mississippi River forms the eastern boundary of the region. At the center of it all is the city of Kirksville, home to Truman State University. Hannibal lies along the Mississippi to the east, along with other historic riverside towns. These historic river towns preserve the Americana surrounding the life and works of Samuel Clemmons, known by his pen-name, Mark Twain. There are many inviting B&Bs up and down the river, many with a nice scenic view of the forested hills and the Mississippi below. Driving through the rural areas, keep an eye out for farmer’s markets and antique shops.
Waterfowl lovers will have plenty of places to bird, given the variety of large reservoir lakes scattered across the northeast. These lakes bring in a assortment of ducks, geese, swans, gulls, terns, and shorebirds. American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Common Loon, and a few different species of grebe show up as well. Bald Eagle and Osprey are also common sights at these lakes and Snowy Owl have been spotted during past winters. The wetland complexes along the Mississippi are known for their importance to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, but are also crucial habitat for marshbirds. King Rail are really only known to breed in the wetlands along the Mississippi, making this area a good place to look for this elusive species. American Bittern, Least Bittern, Green Heron, and other herons stalk these marshes as well.