Tiny songbird that vanished from Missouri returns to state

Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri wildlife officials are hoping a tiny songbird that disappeared from the state a century ago will stay in a new habitat in the Mark Twain National Forest.

The Missouri Department of Conservation and other wildlife agencies released 50 brown-headed nuthatch birds in the forest in late August.

The bird disappeared from the state in the early 1900s after loggers removed acres of pine forest, which the quarter-ounce birds need for habitat, The Kansas City Star reported.

The wildlife agencies restored pine woodland in the forest to house the birds.

“Brown-headed Nuthatches are pine specialists and excavate their own cavities in pine tree snags, or dead trees, every year,” State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick said in a news release. “By creating new cavities each year, these birds provide cavities for other cavity-nesters, like chickadees and titmice.”

Another 50 nuthatches will be released next August. The birds came from the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas.

“This is a great example of ecosystem restoration — when you bring back the habitat, you can bring back some of the species that have been lost along the way,” Kendrick said.

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