Birding in Kansas

We left Nebraska at 6:30 a.m. heading south towards Kansas and the hope of spotting Whooping cranes. The roads were narrower and the towns included many old, aging, and sometimes abandoned buildings.

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Kearney NE to Cheyenne Bottoms KS

  • Mourning doves
  • European starlings
  • Northern flicker
  • Western meadowlark
  • Eurasian collared doves
  • Rock doves
  • Red tailed hawks (42)
  • Brown headed cowbirds
  • House sparrows
  • American kestrels
  • American robins

Geographic center of the continental U.S.
DSCN5233 Not necessarily the best picture of the sign but still. We were there. One of the fields was full of red winged blackbirds and grackles. It was amazing to watch the murmurations of these immense flocks. There were even more blackbirds in the reeds and cattails around the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area DSCN5244

  • American crows
  • Northern harriers (10)
  • Ring necked pheasant
  • Red winged blackbird
  • Great tailed grackles
  • Northern shoveler
  • Common grackles
  • Mallards

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We spotted a Fox squirrel while lunching out of the cooler.

Cheyenne Bottoms KS: This is the place to find Pied billed grebes. We spotted at least 44, but there were more hidden in the reeds. It was amazing! DSCN5250

  • Ring billed gulls
  • Double crested cormorants
  • Northern harriers
  • Great egrets (2)
  • Great blue herons
  • Snowy egret
  • Mallards
  • Vesper sparrows
  • Pied billed grebes (44)
  • American coots
  • Marsh wren
  • Ruddy ducks
  • White faced ibis
  • American bittern
  • Northern shovelers
  • Raft of Redheads, Northern pintails, Canvasbacks
  • Clay colored sparrows

Another amazing sighting TURTLES!! Only one posed for photographs the other half dozen or so slid into the water when we stopped the car.

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Cheyenne Bottoms reeds and water DSCN5261

Thank heavens for Melinda! She pointed out the stick. “Look at that American bittern pretending to be a stick!” I had just parked the car with it in front of us. I was unable to get a photo, which was quite disappointing. The Great blue herons were much less shy.

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Cheyenne Bottoms to Quivira KS

  • Common grackles
  • European starlings
  • American kestral
  • Meadowlarks
  • White faced ibis

We were quite excited to find these signs at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge DSCN5276

Quivira KS

  • Starlings
  • Meadowlarks
  • Mallards
  • Northern harrier
  • Northern pintails
  • Great blue herons
  • Northern shoveler
  • Red winged blackbirds
  • Savannah sparrows
  • Snow geese
  • Canada geese
  • Ross’s geese
  • Gadwalls
  • Redheads

And the numbers of birds coming in for the evening got us really excited, hoping for cranes.

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There were lovely little White tailed deer (15) DSCN5287

A gorgeous sunset

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And thousands and thousands of ducks, geese, shorebirds, and other waterfowl. DSCN5293

  • Common grackles
  • American wigeons
  • Ring necked ducks
  • Cinnamon teals
  • Willets
  • Sandhill cranes
  • American avocets
  • Ruddy ducks

A picture of a cluster of American avocets at sunset.

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Sandhill cranes landed, but sadly no Whooping cranes. It was still AMAZING birding. Thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds can certainly create a noise that can only be called a cacophany. We drove off towards moonrise, happy in the stunning birding of this trip, and making plans for our next quest for Whooping cranes. DSCN5302

— Melinda and Jenny


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