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Area Birding > Birding Locations

Birding in the Greater Springfield Area

Aldrich Conservation Area & Stockton Lake Palmetto Area
Bois D'Arc Conservation Area Ritter Spring Park
Busiek State Forest Roaring River State Park
Compton Hollow Conservation Area Sequiota Park
Drury-Mincy Conservation Area Southern Hills Lakes
Fantastic Caverns South Creek Greenways Trails (3)
Fellows Lake Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Finley Riverwalk Trail at Ozark Table Rock Lake Area
Golden City - Lockwood Area Valley Water Mill
Henning Conservation Area Willard - Conco Quarries
Lake Springfield Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
MTNF - Chadwick/Red Bridge Road

ALDRICH CONSERVATION AREA & STOCKTON LAKE are located 45 minutes northwest of Springfield. From the intersection of I-44 and MO 13, go north 8 miles to MO 215; travel west on MO 215 11 miles to MO 123; travel north on MO 123 5 miles to the Aldrich arm Stockton Lake Bridge. Access may be limited by seasonal high water. Low water levels create distant mudflat views. Scan the lake for waterfowl, then explore 3 main birding areas.
  1. Mud Flats area south and east from Aldrich MO 123 bridge: At the intersection of MO 215 and MO 123 go east onto CR 500 to the T intersection. Turn left onto South 50th Rd to the dead end at the lake. Turn left into parking area. To continue to the Ruark Bluff Park, go west 9.5 from MO 215 and MO 123 to the MO 215 MO Y intersection, continue east 4.5 miles to the intersection of MO Y and MO H. Go south on MO H and just across a Stockton Lake bridge to the park area.
  2. Lake area: Continue 0.7 miles north from the bridge; turn left at Aldrich turn-off. Take next left to the lake; when you arrive at a junction take either road to the lake. Excellent for Bald Eagles, loons, and grebes in winter.
  3. Levy: From the bridge, continue 1 mile north to Highway T; turn right. Drive 1.4 miles to a gravel road on the right, which leads to parking area. Walk down the road which parallels the levy. Excellent for egrets, herons, ducks, shorebirds and geese when the water is up.

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BOIS D'ARC CONSERVATION AREA comprises 2,872 acres owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation. From Willard drive west on US 160, south on UU, then west on FR 94. Turn north on FR 61 to the headquarters entrance. Park near the headquarters entrance road, to observe woodcock, which display from late February through April. Take UU north to the wildlife area. This is good habitat for hawks, owls, quail, Scissor-tailed flycatchers and Loggerhead Shrikes. Sparrows are abundant in winter, with small numbers of Harris's and LeConte's. You may walk the fields from many parking areas. Hunting is permitted in season.

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BUSIEK STATE FOREST: Owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation, these 2500+ acres include varied habitat. From Ozark, take US 65 south 9 miles; turn left at the Busiek State Forest sign. Proceed to the bottom of the hill, turn left and continue to the last parking area. A one mile loop trail in the valley begins at the parking lot. Scan the trees surrounding the parking area for neotropical migrants in spring. The loop trail is good for migrants, as well as resident warblers, including Cerulean, Yellow-throated, Kentucky, Northern Parula, and Louisiana Waterthrush along the creek. Another trail joins the north loop, and heads up the hill and into glade habitat. Yellow-breasted Chat, Prairie, Black and White Warblers, and other summer residents can be found. In early May 18+ species of warbler have been observed. Proceed back along the entrance road passing beneath US 65 to the west side of the highway. A trail leads up the hill and onto another glade area, but be aware that noise from an adjacent shooting range can interfere with birding here. Link to map: http://www.mdc.mo.gov/documents/area brochures/8109map.pdf

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COMPTON HOLLOW CONSERVATION AREA: Located about 20 miles east of Springfield and 9 miles southwest of Marshfield in Webster County, this area attracts migrating and nesting warblers. Ninety percent of the 840 arce area is forested. Woodcock may be observed in the Conservation Area's open fields on the left in late February through April. From Springfield, take US 60 east to Rogersville, north on B to KK, then to area on left. Or drive east on Sunshine Street (Highway D), turn left on B, then right on KK.

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DRURY-MINCY CONSERVATION AREA Located about 60 miles south of Springfield, this conservation area resides within the White River Glades and Woodlands Important Bird Area, and is about one hour south of Springfield. Drive south on US 65 to Branson, exit onto east 76 and drive about 5.5 miles; turn south (right) on J and continue 5.5 miles to stop sign. Continue straight approximately one mile to Drury CA, turn on Garrison Road to Mincy Conservation Area. Watch for Greater Roadrunner, spring wildflowers, dogwoods, and warblers along the roadside. After about 3 miles, stop at Bee Creek and walk the road which parallels the creek; plan to spend several hours on this trip. Each spring and summer, this area supports many migrating and nesting warblers, tanagers, and vireos, Broad-winged Hawks, and resident species.

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FANTASTIC CAVERNS: From the intersection of Kansas & Kearney, drive north on MO 13 to Farm Road 94, Fantastic Caverns Road. Turn west following Fantastic Cavern signs. Take the nature trail from the picnic area to the river. Beginning in May, this is one of the closest places to Springfield to hear Whip-poor-will and Chuck-Will's Widow.

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FELLOWS LAKE: Take US 65 north from Springfield; turn west on AA, then north on FR 197 to Fellows Lake. Park at the intersection of 197 and 68, where you may scan the lake for ducks, loons, cormorants, terns, grebes, shorebirds, and eagles in season. Walk down 68 for woodpeckers and songbirds. Continue driving west on FR 197 around the lake, checking each lake access for waterfowl. Turn west on 66, left on Farm Road 171 to the bridge over the creek. Watch the fencerows for sparrows. Woodpeckers and bluebirds frequent old trees by the creek.

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FINLEY RIVERWALK TRAIL: Drive south on US 65, turn east on Business MO 14. The 1 mile long, handicapped accessible trail can be accessed in 2 locations, the Ozark Community Center behind Empire Bank on Business 14, or the former Heritage Jeep parking lot near the Business 14 Bridge. The trail follows the Finley River and extends from the Business 14 Bridge to the US 65 Bridge. The habitat is ideal for warblers, vireos, thrushes, tanagers, and orioles.

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GOLDEN CITY & LOCKWOOD area is about 60 miles west of Springfield. From the intersection of Sunshine (Highway 60) and West Bypass, travel west to James River Freeway/Route 360, turn north on 360, then exit west on I-44. At the I-44 Avilla exit, take MO 96 west to MO 97. Turn north on MO 97 to NN. Turn west on NN, turn south on CR 1040 or 1030 to Providence Prairie. CR 2015 crosses the prairie area. Large numbers of Golden Plovers and other shorebirds may be found in casual water in spring. Return to MO 97 and continue north. In Lockwood, look for Eurasian Collared Dove near the grain elevators. Continue north on MO 97. Circle the section roads to search for birds. Turn west on E from 97, then north on CR 61 to Niawathe Prairie. Look for Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers in winter. Next, head for Golden Prairie. Return to E and turn south on CR 51 to VV. Turn east on VV then south on CR 57. Turn west on CR 102 then south on CR 51 to US160. Turn west on US 160, to Golden City and then south on MO 37. Turn west on SE 100 Road to Golden Prairie across the road from the microwave tower. Drive the section roads to look for Prairie Falcons, sparrows and Short-eared Owls. Swainson's Hawks, Henslow's Sparrows, Upland Sandpipers, and Loggerhead Shrikes nest throughout this area in summer. In late fall and winter, there is potential for Rough-legged Hawk, Prairie Falcon Falcon and Merlin, and large flocks of Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs.

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HENNING CONSERVATION AREA: Northwest of Branson, near Shepherd of the Hills Park on MO 76 is Henning's 1500 acre oak-hickory and scenic glade area and the White River Balds Natural Area. This is one of the biggest and most diverse Ozark glades in Missouri. This area provides habitat for Greater Roadrunner, Painted Bunting, and Prairie Warblers

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LAKE SPRINGFIELD: Drive south on National Avenue and turn east on Weaver Road. Weaver bears south; continue to the entrance to Lake Springfield Park on the left, before crossing over the dam. Drive past picnic area and silo to parking area at the Boat House. A variety of waterfowl, Great Blue Heron, and Bald Eagles may be seen in winter. The marshy strip along shore is often good birding; look for warblers and other migrants in spring, nesting Bluebirds and Tree Swallows in the summer, and White Pelicans in the fall. Across the parking lot from the Boat House is the Greater Ozarks Audubon Trail. walk up the trail to the lake overlook to check for wintering waterfowl and eagles. Continue the loop trail, watching for migrants or residents along the way. Return to main road; drive south across the dam to parking area on your left, directly across from the power plant. Scan for waterfowl,herons,and eagles. Short path leads to railroad tracks, which may yield woodpeckers and songbirds, and closer views of south lake shore. Continue driving south; bear left on FR 188. Turn north on FR 177, which takes you to a boat launch (on your left) at east end of the lake. Look across lake for ducks and snipe. Cliff Swallows nest under the 65 bridge. From the boat launch travel east along the river to the old steel bridge. Park along the road and go onto the bridge to look for waterfowl, eagles, kingfishers and herons. Sequiota Greenways Trail continues north of the bridge, passing through open fields and then back to the lakeshore. In a mile, this trail will intersect the Springfield Conservation Nature Center access trail. Returning to your car, notice the James River Trail branching off to the left as you near the bridge. It passes through river bottom hardwoods and along the river. Watch for sparrows, warblers and vireos. Lake Springfield boat launch area may also be reached from US 65 by taking the Evans Road exit south of the lake. Follow Evans Road west to FR 177; turn right and continue to boat launch area.

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MARK TWAIN NATIONAL FOREST: Chadwick/Red Bridge Road
  1. Chadwick Area: The Chadwick Area is about one and a half hours southeast of Springfield. Take US 65 south; turn east on MO 14. Go through Ozark and turn south on 125; go through town of Chadwick to intersection with Highway H. Turn right on H to Mark Twain National Forest. Be alert for Pine Warblers in the first pine trees, about two miles from 125. Turn right in Cobb Ridge Recreation Area, and explore each road off H into the forest. Visiting is best on weekdays to avoid off road vehicle noise.
  2. Red Bridge Road Loop: Drive US 65 south to Ozark, take MO 14 east; turn south on Highway W and drive 6 miles. Turn left on Red Bridge Road. As it descends to Bull Creek, stop often to look and listen for neotropical migrants in spring, and resident warblers, thrushes, tanagers, and vireos during summer. Check pine trees for Pine Warblers. Stop at Bull Creek Bridge and check for migrants. The road ascends to Highway H. On the top of the ridge, take Tabor Hollow Road to its end, then turn around, or turn right on Highway H. Travel 2-3 miles to the Christian-Taney County Line Road. Take the County Line Road to Bull Creek, where it crosses a low water bridge and becomes Round Mountain Road. Continue on Round Mountain Road to 176, turn right and proceed to US 65. Highlights of this loop are abundant neotropical migrants in spring. To add Busiek State Forest to your trip, turn north on US 65 and right at the conservation area sign. See Busiek State Forest for details.

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PALMETTO AREA: Drive east on US 60 toward Rogersville, turn north on MO 125, turn east on FR 166 to the Palmetto Cemetery. Look for shorebirds when there is standing water in the fields. Savannah and Grasshopper Sparrows and Bobolinks on may be observed on fences and rails in mid-May. Continue on 125 south across Highway 60. Turn east on 168 where there is similar habitat. Look for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers on the lines, and Great-tailed Grackles around ponds.

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RITTER SPRING PARK: From intersection of Kansas & Kearney, drive north on Kansas (MO 13) to FR 94, Fantastic Caverns Road. Turn west (left); follow Fantastic Cavern signs to FR 129 where Ritter Spring sign indicates right turn. Entrance to the park will be on your right. Ritter Spring is good in any season, but especially in spring, with its marvelous wild flowers. Barred Owl and Pileated Woodpecker are usually heard; many warblers are seen during spring migration. From parking area, cross stile, taking the trail to the right through woods. Follow path along stream. Warblers, vireos, thrushes, and neotropical migrants can be found. Explore the many other trails in the park, including the new paved section of Greenways Trail.

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ROARING RIVER STATE PARK Roaring River State Park resides in one of southwest Missouri’s Important Bird Areas, where migrating warblers, thrushes, empid flycatchers, grosbeaks, and vireos are abundant. Many species nest here too, including Wood Thrush and two Tanager species. Travel west on Sunshine Street which becomes US 60. At Monett, turn south on MO 37 to Cassville. Turn left on Highway 112, pass through Cassville and proceed south to Roaring River State Park. Turn right into Campground One and proceed to the Pibern Trailhead at the far end of the campground. Check for spring migrants along the creek and in the woods. As you leave Campground One, scan along Dry Creek. Return to 112 and turn south, stopping at the picnic areas along Roaring River. From 112, turn left on Hwy F. Check the wildlife viewing area past Camp Smokey. Return to 112 and turn south, drive 3.1 miles and turn left on Sugar Camp Scenic Drive, a gravel road. Stop frequently to hear and view spring migrants.

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SEQUIOTA PARK: From Glenstone Avenue, drive east on Battlefield Road, and turn south on Lone Pine to Sequiota Park, on the left. Waterfowl congregate on the lake in winter, because Sequiota Spring maintains the water temperature above freezing. Follow the Sequiota Greenways Trail both north and south from the parking lot.

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SOUTHERN HILLS LAKES: From Glenstone Avenue, drive east on Sunshine and turn south on Lone Pine. After 0.8 miles, turn left on Southern Hills Blvd.; turn right on Cedarbrook, which cuts between two of the three lakes. Waterfowl, kingfishers, and herons frequent the lakes. Take next left on Edgewater Drive; turn left on Southern Hills Blvd., to the third lake; continue straight back to Lone Pine.

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SOUTH CREEK GREENWAYS TRAIL ACCESS:
  1. McDaniel Park, National Avenue and Sunset: Follow the start of the Greenways trail west from National Avenue to Holland Street. Spring migrants are abundant in the woods and creek side vegetation, while raptors can be observed any time of year.
  2. Close Park: Drive west on Sunshine Street, turn south on Scenic Avenue, turn left at the Nathanial Greene/Close Park/Botanical Center sign. Turn right after crossing the RR tracks and continue to the parking lot. Check the row of trees between the parking lot and the railroad tracks. Follow the walking trail around Lake Drummond. The woods on the south side of the lake and the brushy area at the east end of the lake are productive birding areas. Return to Scenic Avenue and proceed south to Battlefield Road and turn west to the next destination listed below.
  3. Golden Avenue: From the intersection of Kansas (MO 13) and Battlefield Road, drive west on Battlefield to Golden Avenue. Turn north on Golden to Sunset, turn west on Sunset and park along the street. Follow the sidewalk along Golden south down the hill to the South Creek Greenways Trail. Walk east looking for warblers, vireos, and woodpeckers. This trail continues to Horton Smith Golf Course and then on to Close Park. Turn around and return to Golden. Walk west, past Golden, to Battlefield Road. Watch for owls, herons, and small birds. The trail continues one half mile beyond the Battlefield Underpass.

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SPRINGFIELD CONSERVATION NATURE CENTER: Drive south on Glenstone Avenue over James River Freeway. Follow Springfield Nature Center signs guiding you left on the outer roadway. The outer road dead ends at the Nature Center entrance. The center has 3 miles of trails that offer bottom land, forest, and glade-savannah habitat, and a bird feeding area where birds are fed year-round. Turkey and Black Vultures and a variety of waterfowl are found in winter, while Cooper's, Red-shouldered, and Red-tailed Hawks nest in summer. Many neotropicals use the area during spring migration, while Prothonotary, Northern Parula, Black and White Warblers, and Louisiana Waterthrushe are just a sampling of the summer breeding species.

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TABLE ROCK LAKE AREA is about 40 miles south of Springfield. Drive south on US 65; turn east on 176; continue east on 160 to Shadow Rock Park, which will be on your left in Forsyth. A large colony of Cliff Swallows nests under the bridge in summer. Return to US 65 by way of 160 west or south to Hollister. Lake Route 65-48 east of US65 about 5 miles south of Point Lookout provides a variety of birds. Turn west on MO 165 south of Hollister; continue to Table Rock State Park on your left. Common, and occasionally Pacific Loons, Bald Eagles, and several grebe species have been seen in winter. Follow 165 across the dam to Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery for ducks and other waterfowl in winter months. The visitor center has excellent maps of the vicinity.

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VALLEY WATER MILL Drive north on US 65 beyond I-44. Turn west on Farm Road 102 to the parking area on the left at Valley Water Mill Lake and The Watershed Learning Center and Outdoor Classroom. There is a walking trail around the lake with a blind for waterfowl viewing in winter. Warblers are present in spring. Another trail follows Dry Sac River downstream from the lake.

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WILLARD-cONCO QUARRIES From I-44 take US 160 west 4 miles to the McDonald’s Restaurant, which is 1 mile SE of Willard. Turn east at the restaurant, go 1/8 mile and turn right on Quarry Road which parallels US 160. From May to August Painted Buntings, Bank Swallows and Blue Grosbeaks can be observed along a ¾ mile stretch of this road. Quarry workers may ask what you are doing, however they are generally very friendly to birders. Please stay on the road.

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WILSON'S CREEK NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD: The park is located 10 miles southwest of Springfield. Drive west on James River Freeway, south on FF, west on Hwy M, south on ZZ. Turn left on FR 182, and then right into the park. Birding is good all year, but especially in the spring. The park has several trails for walking, in addition to the 5 mile driving tour. Several species of hawks, warblers, and sparrows are often seen. You may see Summer and Scarlet Tanagers. Maps are available at the visitor center.

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