This morning I drove over to Chillicothe, Missouri from Saint Joseph, Missouri (a little over an hour's drive) to bird with Steve. We still have quite a bit of snow cover in our area and we did not expect to find a great variety of birds. But it was good to drive around the various areas in the Chillicothe area and see what was about.

We did not get to bird Swan Lake refuge because the gates were closed. But were were able to drive around at Pershing State Park, Fountain Grove Conservation Area and Poosey Conservation Area. We kept mostly to the main roads which were more or less snow/ice free and saw forty (40) species of birds. There were only a few species of waterfowl to be seen because of the ice covered ponds and lakes which were surveyed. The only birds of this genre we encountered were Canada Goose, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Common Goldeneye and Hooded Merganser.

The most unexpected bird we saw on this day's outing was a Turkey Vulture. This species usually arrives in our area in the first week in March, but due to the rather snowy/icy/frigid conditions, Steve and I were both quite surprised when we found a lone individual soaring near the boardwalk at Pershing State Park. We had a pretty good raptor day with views of several Bald Eagles, ~5 Northern Harriers, 3 Red-shouldered Hawks, ~10 Red-tailed Hawks, 9 Rough-legged Hawks and ~ 15 American Kestrels. The "frosting on the cake" was a very cooperative Short-eared Owl which was showing quite well sitting on a corner fence post around the Poosey Conservation Area in the late afternoon. Everywhere we went there were Horned Larks, usually in flocks of 20-25 birds. At times they were attended by Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows. But usually they were in single species flocks. We searched through them in vain trying to find a longspur or perhaps a Snow Bunting. I suppose these two species are still south of us awaiting an internal signal to move north! We were able to admire eight Purple Finch (5 males and 3 females) coming to a feeder just outside the main entrance of Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge at Sumner.

Other reguarly occuring birds rounded out our tally for the day to the forty (40) species. Not a very large total but it was good to be out birding nonetheless!
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