In the course of about 4 hours time in my deer stand near Puxico Sunday morning before going to church, the birds were very active as were only 7 deer.
Out under the black blanket of night, in the distance I heard a Barn Owl screech once. Closer to my location in the still of night, a Barred Owl let out a blood-curdling wail then a call note. That got the blood pumping. Just before daybreak, a soft-calling tremolo could be heard in the woods opposite the bean field; the Eastern Screech Owl was cautiously calling for good reason. After daybreak, I was treated to a medley of two Great Horned Owls that seemed to be playing cat and mouse with each other. Their game brought them to within 35 yards of me and at eye level. Truly magnificent beings! It's been since January that I've had 4 owl species within a 24 hour period.
Before daybreak a Wilson's Snipe was heard overhead giving it's raspy, grating call note; also heard before dawn was a Solitary Sandpiper's "t-crete" call.
The total species observed were 47 that morning. Many of the winter species have made it to the Bootheel. Swamp Sparrows were very vocal and in strong numbers. Several Winter Wrens were present and doing their little bee-bop dance as they "ch-cht"ed here and there. A calling House Wren made it a 3-wren morning. A softly "chupp"ing Hermit Thrush alerted me to it's presence as it was perched on a small oak branch along the tree line.
Blue Jays were everywhere all seemed to be holding acorns in their beaks, no doubt replenishing their fat stores for their continued migration southward. A Northern Waterthrush is still guarding a small patch of water in the ditch 35 yards away - loudly "chip"ping and bobbing it's tail on branches over the water source.
American Pipits were heard in flight overhead as were mixed flocks of blackbirds. Tree Swallows also were heard overhead giving their alien-like (Hollywood version) warbled vocalizations. Several Eastern Phoebes also were calling at a few locations.
Twice a few mixed and loose flocks  came within 20 feet of me just overhead. Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmouse were the bulk of these, but hidden within all the racket and fuss were both Ruby & Golden-crowned Kinglets as well as a few Black-throated Green Warblers.
Oddly, I didn't hear a peep from either of the several coveys of Bobwhite Quail, possibly due to all the owl activity.
What a fabulous time of the year to be outdoors!
Bird on my friends,

Chris Barrigar
Stoddard Co.
Bloomfield, MO
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