BiodiverseCity St. Louis

BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.

Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.


Species Spotlight

OvenbirdOvenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla). Photo: Amado Demesa.
Ovenbird (Mesodon zaletus)
For such a diminutive creature, the song of Seiurus aurocapilla is not to be ignored. This small bird’s rapid-fire tea-Cher, tea-Cher, tea-CHER, tea-CHER, TEA-CHER song is broadcast throughout local hardwood forests during the St. Louis summer. Its impressively loud call belies its actual appearance and behavior—an olive-brown avian barely detectable on the speckled forest floor, strutting around like a tiny chicken. One of the few songbirds that regularly sing in the heat of midafternoon summers, territorial males especially woo loud and proud from high up in the canopy.

In the St. Louis region, this long-distance migrant is spending its summer breeding in large, closed-canopy forests, particularly deciduous and mixed deciduous-coniferous woods, from rich oak or maple woods to dry pine forest. S. aurocapilla and its warbler friends are a local lesson in ecological niches: While the ovenbird uses the uplands and moderately sloped areas of a forest, the worm-eating warbler uses the steep slopes, while the Kentucky warbler and Louisiana waterthrush take the low-lying areas. Well played, warblers.

Given its abundance, wide distribution, and relative ease of observation, researchers have focused on this songbird as a model species to better understand the impacts of habitat fragmentation on migrating songbirds. Beyond inspiring scientists, it’s also the muse of poets. “The Oven Bird,” a 1916 poem by Robert Frost begins, “There is a singer everyone has heard,/Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,/Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.”

Fun fact: A masterwork of the female ovenbird, the nest of S. aurocapilla is how it earned its common name. The leaf-covered dome and side entrance resemble a Dutch oven.

To do: Head to the woods—whether that’s Kennedy Woods in Forest Park, Shaw Nature Reserve, Cuivre River State Parkor your own personal favorite forest—and listen for ovenbirds. Don’t forget to bring a nature journal in case your inner Robert Frost is inspired. Or for those “just-the-facts-jack” people out there, we recommend checking out the recent Mizzou study in this month’s Network News section, or this article on ovenbird fledglings.


Featured Partner Programs

Milkweeds for Monarchs logo   Bring Conservation Home logo   Operation Clean Stream logo   Show Me Rain Gardens logo