Birds of the St. Louis Area: where and when to find them

The single best source of Birding information for the St. Louis area is a book published by the Webster Groves Nature Study Society, entitled Birds of the St. Louis Area: where and when to find them. This book is available through the American Birding Association (ABA sales) and at bookstores and Wild Bird stores (Wild Bird Centers, Wild Birds Unlimited, etc.) throughout the St. Louis area. The first printing of this book sold out in early 1998 and was re-printed with updates early this year. The book contains detailed information about birding locations within 50 miles of St. Louis, individual species accounts, and a bargraph mapping of seasonal occurrence of individual species. It also contains a generous assortment of location maps.

Eurasian Tree Sparrows: The resident bird most closely associated with St. Louis is the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (locally known as the ETS). A group of these birds were released in south St. Louis in 1870, and managed to establish a breeding population that remains today. As St. Louis grew, the range of this suburb-loving sparrow spread with it. Today, there are still areas of St. Louis where ETS can be found, but many of the best locations are in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties of Missouri, Madison and Calhoon counties in Illinois, and north from the St. Louis area along the Illinois River. Although ETS are scattered throughout the area, there are a few locations where one is likely to run across them.

In the city of St. Louis, the Metropolitan Sewer District headquarters are at the north end of Grand St. where it connects with Hall St. This area may be reached by taking I-70 west from the arch, exiting on Grand Blvd., then going right toward the river. When Grand ends at Hall, go left 1 block to East Prairie, and turn right. Follow Prairie to its end (3-4 blocks), then turn right again. Any of the chain link fences in this area are good places to search for ETS. One caution about this area is that truck traffic is very heavy during the week, and it is only recommended for weekend visits. Following Hall road up the river, it joins Riverview Drive and continues north. North Riverfront park, along Riverview drive, is another good site for ETS any day of the week.

In Southern Illinois, one of the most reliable locations for ETS is around Horseshoe Lake. To get to Horseshoe lake, take I-70 East from St. Louis, and exit at route 203 (exit number 4AB). Go north (left) on 203 to the second stoplight and turn right on Bend road. The small trees and shrubs along Bend road are a good location for ETS. The other side of Horseshoe Lake may be reached by exiting I-70 at the next exit (route 111 - exit #6) and turning left. Follow route 111 to Horseshoe Lake State Park. Inside the park, bear left, and cross the causeway to Walker Island. ETS are usually found in the trees along the shoreline of Walker Island.