The Great Migration Rally



The Kansas Wetlands Education Center is celebrating spring migration with The Great Migration Rally from 2 to 7 p.m., on April 13.

“It’s an event modified from one of our activities that features migration,” said Curtis Wolf, KWEC manager. “The concept is to provide information about the hazards birds face during migration with a fun and entertaining approach.”

Participants start off by drawing a “bird” card, worth so many points. The rarer the species, the more points it is worth.

“Each bird is a species that migrates through Cheyenne Bottoms,” Wolf said.

After beginning their “migration”, driving through Cheyenne Bottoms, participants stop at three different points, picking up situational cards that describe a positive or negative circumstance. The positive cards, such as finding a good food source, add points. The negative cards, such as losing a wetland to development, subtract points. At the migration destination, Barton Community College’s Camp Aldrich, the migrants choose one last card, points are tabulated and those with the highest points win prizes (see photos below).

Many of the prizes encourage outdoor activities – four-person tents, fishing poles, binoculars, kids’  life jackets and water jugs. The top prize for the adult category is a trail camera package with a retail value of $170. In addition several area businesses have donated gift certificates and area artists have donated pieces. The first 100 visitors receive a $5 gift card to a local business and a Migratory Bird Day poster. The first 50 kids receive a hat.

“We were very fortunate to have so many businesses, organizations and individuals donate prizes for this event,” Wolf said. “We also appreciate BCC’s partnership.”

A separate activity occurs at each stop, with binoculars and spotting scopes available at one stop to view shorebirds. At the scenic overlook, participants discover how Cheyenne Bottoms aided the WW II war effort and at another stop they meet Frank Robl, reenacted by Rob Penner, The Nature Conservancy avian programs manager. Robl’s extensive bird banding records helped establish Cheyenne Bottoms as a wetlands of international importance.

The migration activity is one of many during the event, with Falconer Nate Mathews bringing his golden eagle, Isaiah, for a presentation onhunting with an eagle. Mathews, currently the only falconer in Kansas hunting with an eagle, will share the remarkable story of Isaiah’s capture, training, loss and recovery at Camp Aldrich.

Several activities take place at KWEC before the migration portion of the event takes place.

“A Fort Hays State University graduate student, will set up mist nets to capture song birds and demonstrate bird banding,” Wolf said.

There are also crafts for kids and adults, with kids making a bird feeder to take home. In addition, Bird Bingo, bird tattoos and other activities will be available.

A comfort meal of ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans and biscuits will be served, with Tumnus, a trio from Wichita, providing Celtic and folk tunes.

After touring the University of Kansas Monarch Watch facility recently, KWEC staff decided to donate proceeds from the event to “Bring Back the Monarch”, a monarch butterfly habitat restoration effort. Monarch butterfly numbers have decreased dramatically, putting their amazing migration in jeopardy.

Cost for the event is $5 for adults, $2.50 for children ages 5-12 and free for children under age 5. Participants are asked to pre-register by calling the KWEC, 1-877-243-9268, or emailing, by April 6. More information is available at

Prizes for kids include 4-person tent, fishing pole kit, certified life jackets and floaties, binoculars and more.

The top prize is a trail camera kit, with additional prizes of binoculars, a two-room suite at Rodeway Inn, an Ugly Stick fishing rod and reel, 4-person tent, and more.