Songbirds | St. Louis Public Radio

Songbirds

Wildlife Rescue Center intern Katelyn Milbrandt feeds an orphaned Virginia possum. Wildlife rescuers in St. Louis have had to overhaul their work routines due to the pandemic during their busiest time of year.
Wildlife Rescue Center

For Joe Hoffmann, spring is like the dinner rush at a restaurant. 

But instead of customers, there are rows of hungry baby birds, demanding to be fed.

“It’s just crazy,” said Hoffmann, executive director of Wild Bird Rehabilitation in Overland. “We're working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, constantly feeding them.”

Wildlife rescuers in St. Louis are gearing up for the springtime influx of orphaned animals, as baby birds, squirrels and rabbits begin arriving in droves. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing organizations to make major changes to keep staff and volunteers from getting sick.

An adult female bluebird caught by a Southeast Missouri State University researcher.
Kathy Hixson

It’s been nearly 300 years since lead was first discovered in Missouri.

But the element's important role in the state's economy may come at a price to another natural resources. Scientists are planning to study the health effects of lead on local songbird populations.

The research, conducted by biologists at Southeast Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia, will take place in the Southeast Missouri Lead District, which contains the world’s largest deposits of galena, an important source of lead.

Provided by University of Missouri-Columbia/Julianna Jenkins

According to surveys by scientists and avid bird-watchers, many songbird species are declining in the U.S. Losing the birds that provide a natural soundtrack in our backyards is a critical environmental issue, since they also serve to control insect populations and as pollinators.