Kansas’ 7 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

Clinton Lake

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde

Updated: October 7, 2022

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With over 473 species of birds on record, Kansas is the sixteenth “birdiest” state in the United States. The centralized location of the Sunflower State makes it a massive store of surprise for visiting birders. When it comes to Kansas’ best bird-watching spots, there are numerous options. From wide-open grasslands to forested parklands, you’ll find many great vantage points to explore the highly diverse birdlife in Kansas. 

Kansas’s bird diversity is enhanced by its landlocked geography, making it one of the most visited stopover camps for migrating shorebirds globally. The state also has many reservoirs which attract seagulls and other water birds during winter. Magnificent frigatebirds and wood storks are found along the Northern Gulf Coast during spring and fall. Summer is also an excellent season for bird-watching in Kansas. If you are a bird lover hoping to visit Kansas and enjoy some birding views, here are 7 great bird-watching spots that you can visit in this midwestern state.  

1. Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area

Cheyenne Bottoms

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is a must-visit for every birding enthusiast.

This migratory stopover with over 28,000 acres of marshlands is a birding experience worth checking out for every birding enthusiast. The Baird’s & Stilt Sandpiper have most of their entire population stationed in this zone. 

Cheyenne Bottoms is easy to explore with little or no touring advice. The common species you will mostly find during summer are the shorebirds. Nesting waders, including ducks and geese, are widespread in this area from fall to spring. This wildlife area is full of birding life no matter the time of the year you choose to visit. 

Common birds to watch out for at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area

2. Shawnee Mission Park

Shawnee Mission Park

Over 260 bird species call Shawnee Mission Park home.

This is a typical 1,600-acre urban park located in Johnson County, Kansas. It has a swimming beach, picnic space, playgrounds, and a dog park. As small as it may seem, over 260 species of birds call this area home. 

Fall and spring are peak birding times in this area, but you’ll also have fun visiting in summer. The mix of grassland, lake, and forest is one reason for the high bird influx in this area. You are one waterfowl away on every step you take at the park’s lake. Nesting birds are common in the park. 

Common birds to watch out for at Shawnee Mission Park

3. Perry Lake

Perry Lake

Perry Lake is a serene place for a bird-watching experience.

Birds love serene areas, and that’s why they nest close to locations like Perry Lake. It is a unique birding hotspot with an extensive shoreline and massive grasslands. The Perry Lake area also has a few wooded public areas. 

There are over 250 species in the vicinity of Perry Lake. These include forest birds, dabbling ducks, rails, wetland songbirds, and waterbirds. The cozy recreation spaces along the lake’s western shore are ideal for people to host picnics and sightseeing. You can also tour the Perry Wildlife Area along the Delaware River to see various wading birds and shorebirds. 

Common birds to watch out for at Perry Lake

  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Western Grebe
  • Pacific Loon
  • Bald Eagle
  • Yellowthroat
  • Marsh Wren
  • Osprey
  • American White Pelican
  • Red-throated Loon
  • Franklin’s Gull
  • Trumpeter Swan
  • Tundra Swan

4. Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has numerous bird varieties.

This area is one of North America’s biggest and most important bird habitats. This 22,135-acre wildlife area hosts close to 10,000 visiting and nesting bird species on its grassland, ponds, and marshes. In the bird-viewing areas, you will find wading birds, shorebirds, land birds, and wintering waterfowl. 

To explore the massive wildlife refuge, you can take an auto tour or hike along the walking paths that offer roadside birding views. Either way, it is all about having a good birding experience and exploring the other wildlife the refuge has to offer. 

Common birds to watch out for at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

  • Wilson’s Phalarope
  • Black Tern
  • Neotropic Cormorant 
  • American Bittern
  • Black Rail
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • American Avocet
  • Snowy Plover
  • Marsh Wren
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
  • Upland Sandpiper
  • American White Pelican
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Dickcissel
  • Bobolink
  • Painted Bunting   

5. Baker University Wetlands

Sedge Wren

The sedge wren can be seen in Baker University wetlands.

A small reserve with a colorful history, this 927-acre area is stationed in wetlands undergoing restoration after being threatened by a highway project. This striking natural landscape in South Lawrence is one of Kansas’ best bird-watching spots. 

This wetland discovery center opened just seven years ago, inviting people from various parts of the state to enjoy the birding views across different seasons. The nesting birds, wading birds, and shorebirds are the highlights of this area. 

Common birds to watch out for at Baker Wetlands 

  • Bell’s Vireo
  • Sedge Wren
  • Least Bittern 
  • Yellow Rail
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Northern Harrier
  • American Bittern
  • Black Rail 
  • Virginia Rail
  • Bald Eagle 
  • Wood Duck
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Willow Flycatcher
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Dickcissel

6. Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake Kansas

Many odd and uncommon birds visit Wilson Lake from time to time.

Kansas City houses the majority of prairie species in the country, and the Wilson Lake area is a great place to observe them. Wilson Lake is a reservoir close to Russel, where you will find most of the Greater Prairie-Chicken. 

Waterbirds, grebes, rarities, and loons are also common in this area. The park also has several recreational centers and shoreline for feeding birds. Many odd and uncommon birds visit this area from time to time, making it difficult to tell the exact number of species that call this place home. 

Common birds to watch out for at Wilson Lake

  • Rock Wren
  • Rough-legged Hawk
  • Northern Shrike
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Pacific Loon
  • Clark’s Grebe
  • Townsend’s Solitaire
  • Northern Harrier
  • Say’s Phoebe
  • American Tree Sparrow
  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Glaucous Gull
  • Osprey
  • Bald Eagle
  • Harris’s Sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee

7. Clinton Lake

Clinton Lake

More than 250 bird species can be seen in Clinton Lake.

Clinton Lake is another major reserve area in Kansas and one of Kansas’ best bird-watching spots. The Clinton Lake area hosts more than 250 bird species. Located in West Lawrence, the area around the lake has parks and recreation centers from where you can observe the different species of land birds, hawks, grebes, gulls, and waterbirds. 

Ducks are mostly seen on the shoreline during spring. Up to fourteen species of gulls have been documented in the area around the lake. The western end is home to migrant shorebirds, while the south side and dam area are beautiful sites to scan the lake for some lucky finds. 

Common birds to watch out for at Clinton Lake

  • Osprey
  • Franklin’s Gull
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • American White Pelican
  • Bald Eagle
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Painted Bunting

The birding hotspots in Kansas are mostly distributed in the parks, reservoirs, and wildlife areas in the state. This means anyone can visit at any time with permission (some areas are private properties). As a birding enthusiast, a one-time tour to the Sunflower State is enough to create an excellent birding documentary, thanks to the diversity of bird life the state has to offer. Check out some of Kansas’ best bird-watching spots when next you’re in the area. 

Up Next

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Nebraska’s 6 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

Montana’s 5 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

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