A haunt for area birders from beginner to expert, Tower Grove Park is expansive enough for me to enjoy a half-day’s birding during the peak of migration yet conveniently located for shorter visits anytime of the year.
The park is famous for its bounty of migrants. Visitors last spring included Connecticut and Mourning Warblers and Spotted Towhee. The variety can be wonderful, and there are sometimes surprises, like the fly-by flock of Double-crested Cormorants I once saw.
You might not find the region’s specialty, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow, in the park, but there are neighborhoods nearby where the species can be seen reliably.
One of my favorite spots is the Robert and Martha Gaddy Wild Bird Garden, a cooperative effort of Tower Grove Park, the Webster Groves Nature Study Society, and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Its water feature, the “bubbler,” is a bird magnet. While resting quietly on the nearby bench, I once watched four species of warbler bathing. — Mike Thelen
Deciduous trees and conifers, plus shrubs, thickets, mowed lawns, manmade and wet-weather water features, gardens.
Flat and open, with paved roads and sidewalks and unpaved paths.
Half the species on the Missouri state checklist: 15 hawks, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, wrens, thrushes, 37 warblers, tanagers, 16 sparrows, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and orioles. Breeding owls and hawks are sometimes seen easily. Accidentals: Prairie Falcon, Virginia Rail, Upland Sandpiper, Long-eared Owl, Varied Thrush, Black-headed Grosbeak.
When to go
Spring and fall migrations are best. Summer and winter also good but not as birdy.
Restrooms. The Piper Palm House, near the center of the park, is the oldest standing greenhouse west of the Mississippi. Its Café Madeleine serves Sunday brunch. The Missouri Botanical Garden is across Magnolia Ave. to the north.
City park. Admission free. Street parking free. Three MetroBus lines serve the park.
Park at the northwest corner along eastbound Magnolia Ave. Then wander eastward from the Wild Bird Garden as far as you’d like. No need for a spotting scope.