Migrating Shorebirds in Kansas

Kansas is in the Central Flyway migration route so we can easily enjoy seasonal bird activities from many locations.  When drought conditions wane, lakes, wetlands and hot spots such as Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms host a variety of waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds.

While en route south for the winter and north to their breeding grounds during the spring, water loving shorebirds such as sandpipers, American Avocets, Wilson’s Phalaropes, and Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs stop to feed and rest during their long distance flights.  Shorebirds probe and pick along mudflats and in shallow water with their unique bills adapted for extracting larvae, insects, worms, and aquatic creatures.  Anyone who has spent time observing their behavior will agree they are fun to watch.

Attaching an accurate identification to some shorebirds–especially sandpipers–can be challenging though, and plumages are often very different in spring than in fall.  Binoculars or a spotting scope accompanied by a bird guidebook or app (and a little patience!) are valuable tools to have in the field.

One way to improve your identification skills is by talking to other birders and sharing discoveries.  On Tuesday, October 15, you will have a unique opportunity to learn more about the who, what, where, and when of shorebirds
byAmerican Avocet Quivira NWR fall plumage attending Migrating Shorebirds in Kansas, a presentation by Gene Young, co-author of Birds of Kansas (2011) and a longtime bird watcher.  Gene will share his bird knowledge and tips to make shorebird ID a little easier.

Migrating Shorebirds in Kansas is one of a series of nature-themed programs cosponsored by the Topeka Audubon Society and hosted by the Library.  Come to the Library on October 15 at 7:00 p.m. and bring your bird questions for the experts!

photo of American Avocet in fall plumage at Quivira NWR submitted by author
featured photo of Greater Yellowlegs in fall plumage at Cheyenne Bottoms submitted by author



Kimberly Sain

As a Public Services Specialist, in addition to Reference work I promote the Travel, Pets, and Lawn & Garden Neighborhoods, coordinate nature-themed programs for adults and families, and serve on the Big Read planning committee. My interests include exploring new travel destinations, National Parks, Alaska, hiking trails in Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas, birding, Sandhill crane migration, Monarch waystations, Kansas native plants, citizen science activities, volunteer work as a certified Kansas Master Naturalist, and reading essays about the natural environment. Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country is my all-time favorite novel.