|Birding in Kansas|
Whooping Cranes at Quivira NWR
Birding in Kansas
|Kansas birding opportunities have been one of the best kept secrets in the
nation...until recently. With
467 species on the state list, Kansas offers
fascinating possibilities for both the amateur and the
serious birder. How
does the Kansas bird list stack up
bird diversity exceeds
neighboring state except one (figures from the
American Birding Association): Oklahoma-450, Colorado-470, Nebraska-445, Missouri-405, Iowa-405
The Sunflower state offers a mecca of diverse habitats, joining the eastern hardwood forest to tallgrass prairie. The mixed-grass prairie region harbors the scenic Smoky and Gyp Hills along with the extensive central wetlands of Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Another of the state's birding attractions is in the extreme Southwest corner - the Cimarron National Grasslands and areas around Elkhart. Known for �zooties� or rare birds that occasionally extend ranges from areas south and west, this corner of the state gains attention of all serious listers both in-state and nationally.
Situated under the central flyway, Kansas sees thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds passing through the central part of the state every spring and fall during migration. The casual nature-lover will enjoy the spectacle of these giant flocks around the central wetlands and major reservoirs. Shorebird migrations are very dependent on these major wetlands and in some instances, the majority of the population of some species make stops at these locations annually.
While some shorebirds and hummingbirds begin their fall migrations in July, most birds start later. Shorebirds peak through September as many of the passerines (songbirds/perching birds) are beginning their migrations. Typically, the first week in October is peak for warblers and many of the raptors (hawks, eagles, and owls) along with sparrows and many other groups. Classic warbler �fallouts� are anticipated each fall along the eastern edge of the state and in other key spots offering a short-term safe harbor from unfavorable south winds.
In spring, mid-April is peak for shorebirds. And over the next month, most other passerines, raptors and waterfowl are flocking through the state.
Recently, Kansas birding has achieved some huge notoriety.
Kansas is not just a place to buzz through on your way to somewhere else. For nature/birding tourists, it is now a discovered destination spot!
Beginning the weekend of November 8, 2009, up to forty whooping cranes were in temporary residence at the central Kansas wetlands complex including Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. It was a fantastic opportunity to see these very rare birds! This video from Mike Blair of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks celebrates the event.
PRAIRIE CHICKEN VIEWING
|Kansas has good populations of both the lesser and
greater prairie chicken. These members of the grouse family are most noted
for their fascinating lek behavior during
the spring breeding season. Males will gather on a prominent hilltop and
go through elaborate displays to attract females. The displays involve claiming
of territory within the lek and defending it against other males through
ritualistic dances, posturing, "booming" vocalizations made with large
inflatable cheek pouches and, on occasion, fighting off their rivals.
Females come to the lek to choose a mate from the assembled males. The
leks may be active between mid-March and early May, depending
on where you are.
Between March 15 and April 20, you may observe greater prairie chicken leks from viewing blinds at the following locations.
Lesser Prairie Chicken
Other places in Kansas where prairie chickens may be found are:
- Greater prairie chickens:
- Lesser prairie chickens:
LOCAL BIRDING EVENTS:
If you know of events to list here, let us know!
Kansas Birding Festival
Wichita Audubon Field
Topeka Audubon Field
Burroughs Audubon Field
CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNTS:
Click the icon to find birding lists for each county in Kansas!
The American Birding Association keeps a listing of
KANSAS WILDLIFE TRAILS
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to