I can read the question two ways:
 
(1) Where can I find shore birds right now?
(2) Generally, where does one find shore birds in Missouri?
 
Several posts answer the first version of the question. I'll try to deal with the second question, for which there are few simple answers.
 
Finding shore birds in Missouri is different in dry years than in wet years. It is usually different in spring than in fall. Different shore birds frequent different habitats and migrate at somewhat different times, so even if the climate and the season are right, you can  miss one of the more uncommon species by not going to the right habitat at the right time of year. Finally, some shorebirds are very rare in Missouri. Finding one of them is more a matter of serendipity than of knowing where to look.
 
Get my drift? There's a lot to learn.
 
Let's start with the five species that breed in Missouri. Killdeer are so ubiquitous you don't have to look for them. Spotted Sandpipers are very uncommon breeders but common migrants, spring and fall. It does not make much sense to look for them as breeders. The other three are perhaps best looked for at regular breeding locations.
 
American Woodcocks frequent forests but display over nearby fields from mid-February to late April for 20-30 minutes just after dark and just before dawn. They are best looked for in known display fields in early March.
 
Upland Sandpipers are prairie nesters, but not common breeders in Missouri. They are best looked for in grassland areas in northern and western Missouri from mid-April to June. They often perch on fence posts. They fly with very rapid wing beats without going very fast and have a wolf whistle-like display call. Two areas where they can be seen regularly are the Dunn Ranch and the reclaimed strip mine area south of Montrose, MO. They migrate south in mid-summer, many in July. They are best looked for on sod farms then. 
 
Black-necked Stilts breed very locally in rice farm areas near the boot heel. They turn up fairly regularly in ones or twos in late April in places where there are lots of migrant shorebirds -- e.g. Squaw Creek NWR, whose manager manages for shore birds in spring.
 
One of the very best habitats for a variety of shorebirds is shallow sheet water. In drought years, oxbow lakes that are normally several feet deep can become wonderful shore bird places when only a few inches of water are left. In very wet years, puddles on fields (sometimes called "playas" or "fluddles") can hold shore birds. Receding flood waters often hold shore birds. The drying mud around the edge of a patch of sheet water often holds different species. Thus Semi-palmated Plovers, Baird's Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers feed in the drying areas, while Yellowlegs, Dowitchers, Stilt Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers and Dunlin like to feed with water over their feet.
 
To be continued (if someone else does not pick it up before I do).
 
 
Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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