August 1, 2014


Mike Doyen, the Trail’s founder

I am a birder; over the past 30 years, I have traveled and birded every county in Missouri. I have seen natural beauty beyond anything I can explain and photos don’t do it justice. I have seen what government agencies, not-for-profits, and individuals have done to save native Missouri. It is this “ethic of conservation” that is the driving force behind the Great Missouri Birding Trail.

Over the past 30 years of birding in Missouri I have birded in winter weather so cold I had to jump up and down to keep warm while scoping gulls and ducks at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. In summer heat and humidity, I had to constantly wipe the haze off my glasses while looking for herons and bitterns at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. I have floated most of the rivers and waded many of the sloughs and backwaters throughout the Ozarks in search of those elusive and hard- to-find warblers. I have walked across western Missouri prairies that seem to have no beginning or end in search of the endangered Greater Prairie Chicken. Looking for hawks, vireo, wrens and flycatchers, I have hiked up hills and valleys so steep that I thought I was in the Rockies. I’ve been soaked in downpours and other times I have waded through knee-deep streams searching for birds in their native habitat. In the process, I have developed a deep appreciation and respect for the natural beauty and diversity of Missouri and the birds that call it home. This relationship between birds and habitat are critical to the survival of both; and the better we understand these relationships, the better stewards of the land we all become.

When you mix native habitat with the seasons you are not only adding to the excitement and pleasure of being outdoors, but more importantly you are seeing birds in their natural environment. This is critical in helping all birders understand the relationship between birds and habitat. And hopefully it will lead you to ask the question: What can I do to enhance bird habitat in my own backyard?

Build some native habitat and enjoy birds in your backyard. Then put on your gear and enjoy the natural beauty of Missouri and the birds that call it home on the Great Missouri Birding Trail.

Mike Doyen
Missouri Bird Conservation Foundation

Bird by bird I have come to know the earth.
Pablo Neruda