International Migratory Bird Day celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas – bird migration. This year’s theme is “Connecting People to Bird Conservation,” which explores the importance of communities in bird conservation. We invite you to join The Great Migration Rally on Saturday, May 12 – follow the birds to food and prizes while “migrating” the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway, which links two very important wetland ecosystems, Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.
Along the 77 mile stretch of plains, prairie, and wetlands you’ll discover historic sites, compelling stories, and charming rural communities shaped by the motion and change of the people and nature. Starting at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge participants will receive a game card, featuring a migratory bird. While driving the Byway, you will receive situational cards from 3 designated sites: the QNWR scenic overlook, Peace Church, and Dozier Winery. The cards describe some of the opportunities and challenges faced by migrating birds, which will add or subtract points from “your” bird’s fitness. Some of the most significant threats of the past century have been overcome due to increased advocacy for wildlife and the passage of numerous laws protecting birds and their habitats. However, major threats persist, putting numerous species at risk and requiring our attention and action. The fact is that despite the areas set aside for wildlife, some bird populations are still at risk from habitat loss. We are still experiencing a net loss of wetlands in North America, for example.
The rally finishes at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and those with the highest points have a chance to win several prizes, including a Garmin eTrex handheld GPS unit, backpack, binoculars, rod and reel sets, ceramics from local artists, a butterfly quilt wall hanging and outdoor activity equipment. Also, the first 100 people/family groups receive a free International Migratory Bird Day poster.
The event begins at QNWR Visitors Center at 9 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. at KWEC, with demonstrations, games and activities at both sites. Spotting scopes will be set up at the overlook and Peace Church will have the church open for tours and provide light refreshments. A free barbecue beef lunch, sponsored by Friends of Quivira, will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Dozier Winery. Featured presenter Ken Lockwood, of Eagle Valley Raptor Center, will provide two raptor shows at 1 and 1:45 p.m. at KWEC and Fort Hays State University will put up mist nets and demonstrate bird banding. Download a pdf file of a flier for the Great Migration Rally. There is no charge for this event that is open to all ages, but participants should pre-register by calling QNWR, 620-486-2393, or KWEC, 1-877-243-9268 by May 7.