With two of the world’s most well-known wetlands at peak migration, more than 100 birders from around the nation will attend the annual Wings & Wetlands Festival birding celebration in western Kansas Friday and Saturday.
The two-day festival is one of America’s top wetland birding celebrations, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.
The 2019 festival, with expert tour guides, is based out of Great Bend, putting participants just minutes away from the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.
Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest inland marsh in North America, attracting 45 percent of the shorebirds in the Western Hemisphere.
Quivira is a world-renowned birding destination.
The two legendary areas total nearly 50,000 acres of outstanding wetland habitat.
The festival is sponsored by the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Kansas Birding Festival Inc. and the City of Great Bend.
Registration is at nature.org/wingsandwetlands.
The cost is $225, which includes guided birding trips, workshops, educational events and several meals. Guided tours to nearby greater prairie chicken leks can also be arranged for an additional cost. Participants must arrange for lodging, with hotels in Great Bend listed at visitgreatbend.com.
Up to 150 bird species may be observed, ranging from rare whooping cranes to shy, fist-sized rails. And it’s not uncommon to have thousands of waterfowl in the area at that time, with males in colorful breeding plumage.
Upland habitats will hold many species of sparrows, meadowlarks, game birds and raptors. Wooded areas should be brightly decorated with migrating warblers and other great finds. The raptors being observed range from burrowing owls to bald eagles.
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center can be reached at 877-243-9268 for more information.