On the tail end of a week working in the Flint Hills of Kansas I swung through Adair and Sullivan Counties in north central Missouri to check the old prairie chicken booming grounds. I checked the most likely areas and the chickens were conspicuous only in their absence.  My last sighting was in 2008 (2 males) and I only heard through the rumor mill that a few birds were seen in the area last year off of display grounds. Bird highlights were 2 Rough-legged Hawks (by far my own personal latest date, both were good looks) and a singing Western Meadowlark. 

A quick stop by Union Ridge CA turned up little that was out of the ordinary. I did notice that the central portion of the area has been designated the Spring Creek Natural Area, which is pretty cool.

A few folks have asked me about the proposed windmill sites in this general area that have been under consideration for a while. A recent article was written in the college paper of my alma mater and it's the best update I've seen recently.

While it looks as if it may be a lost cause for the chickens, this area is probably the best big grassland birding area outside of Dunn Ranch in northern MO. Birds present in the breeding season are: Northern Harrier, Henslow's Sparrows, Greater Prairie-Chicken (formerly or currently), Upland Sandpiper, Sedge Wrens, Grasshopper Sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks, and virtually all other expected breeders. If memory serves me correctly Steve K. had Vesper Sparrows here once or twice on a BBS.

Transients I've seen here have included Northern Shrike, Swainson's Hawk, Short-eared Owl, Rough-legged Hawk, and others, and it doesn't get a lot of coverage. It will be interesting to see how the windmills affect birds on the area. The turbines will also lie directly south of Union Ridge CA, which is an important migratory stop for over 150 species (and my favorite birding spot in the known universe).

It seems as if everywhere these turbines go up there is a "not in my backyard" syndrome that goes with it, but even from my admittedly biased stance this one raises a few red flags.

Phil Wire
Edwardsville, IL

Phil Wire
Director, Silver Creek Elementary SACC Program
(314) 960-0370
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Spring Meeting: April 30-May 2. Cape Girardeau, MO