Bird Watching for Beginners
An estimated 50 million Americans enjoy bird watching, or birding, with more enthusiasts coming to the sport by the minute. Birding is an inexpensive, easy, and satisfying way to spend time outdoors and witness some of nature’s most beautiful creatures.
Kansas is a great place for all levels of birders, especially those learning the basics.
Hundreds of species of birds and more
The National Audubon Society rates Kansas third nationally for bird species diversity. Over 450 species have been documented and single days of finding 100 species happen. Kansas also offers ample public birding spots and educational sources.
Kansas’ great birding is largely because of its diverse landscapes.
Giant pileated woodpeckers pound tree trunks in the steep, timbered hills of eastern Kansas, while 20 or more species of migrating warblers, so colorful you’d swear they’re pet shop escapees, often flit in the tree tops.
Moving west, the habitat changes to the tall grass Flint Hills with prairie chickens, scissortailed fly-catchers and more.
Central Kansas’ Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge wetlands are world-class destinations for birds and birders. Against the setting sun, birders can watch as clouds of migrating Sandhill cranes, ducks and geese settle in for the evening.
Out on the high plains, comical roadrunners race around as tiny burrowing owls play peekaboo in prairie dog holes and golden eagles rule the skies.
Easy public access
There are about 3,000 miles of public trails ranging from paved city park loops to country dirt roads, and all offer birding.
All of Kansas’ 26 state parks offer great birding, in a variety of habitats, for as little as $15.50 per year through the state’s passport program. There are great opportunities at hundreds of huge reservoirs and smaller lakes.
In the winter, Kansas state parks are home to dozens of visiting bald eagles. More than ever, nesting bald eagles are making state parks their home for the summer.
Pelicans with their ten-foot wingspan frequent many Kansas reservoirs. Often in the late winter, Lovewell State Park and reservoir will host up to one million snow geese in flocks large enough to be seen on weather radar.
So many ways to learn
Kansas’ legendary hospitality is strong amid the state’s birders. Several Facebook pages and online groups readily share detailed information. Several Audubon chapters host outdoor seminars to help beginning birders get better.
If you’re in the beginning stages of birding, grab your binoculars, a field guide and spend some time afield in Kansas. There’s no place like Kansas to learn a lot in a hurry.
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