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Bird Watching

A Birding Paradise

The Kansas Wetlands Education Center is ideally located at the eastern edge of the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and The Nature Conservancy Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve. The Cheyenne Bottoms and nearby Quivira National Wildlife Refuge form a wetlands complex of global importance to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. As such, the center is situated to interpret the richly unique natural resources of the region. Visit our Bird Watch page for details on the most recent arrivals.


Birding Cheyenne Bottoms


Of the twelve large marshes historically present in Kansas, only three remain: Cheyenne Bottoms, Quivira, and Jamestown. With more than 41,000 acres in the Cheyenne Bottoms Basin and more than 28,000 acres managed by Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks & Tourism and the Nature Conservancy, Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest wetland in the interior of the United States.

Of the 477 species of birds documented in Kansas, a 352 have been observed at the Bottoms. Cheyenne Bottoms falls square in the midst of the Central Flyway – equivalent to a sky interstate for migrating birds, from tiny sandpipers to majestic whooping cranes. Cheyenne Bottoms is a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network site of hemispheric importance to shorebirds. There are 10 species of shorebirds in which a significant percentage of their populations may stage at Cheyenne Bottoms in a given year. Additionally, waterfowl numbers can approach several hundred thousand.

Download: Birds of Cheyenne Bottoms – Checklist

Download: Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area – Map/Brochure

Download: Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve – Map/Brochure


cheyenne bottoms
Cheyenne Bottoms includes KDWPT’s Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and TNC’s Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve


Cheyenne Bottoms Shorebirds

Learn more about the shorebirds that utilize Cheyenne Bottoms. Robert Penner, Cheyenne Bottoms & Avian Programs Manager for The Nature Conservancy and Chair of Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network-U.S. Committee, has compiled a book of the Shorebirds of Cheyenne Bottoms. This document serves as a report of the findings of the International Shorebird Surveys, concentrating on years 2000-2020, at Cheyenne Bottoms, as well as, a guide for birdwatchers on the shorebird migration phenology at Cheyenne Bottoms. Download the book by clicking on the photo to the right and use it as you see fit.

Nature Tourism

Annually, an average of more than 60,000 visitors come to the Cheyenne Bottoms for the purpose of hunting, bird watching, environmental study, fishing, and trapping. According to a study done in 1987, the economic impact of the Cheyenne Bottoms on the State’s economy is greater than $2.8 million annually. The impact on Barton County alone is in excess of $1.8 million.


One of the World’s Best Wetlands

Cheyenne Bottoms has many titles that describe its global significance to bird life.

  • Wetland of International Importance – one of only 34 U.S. sites designated by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
  • Globally Important Bird Area – named by the American Bird Conservancy.
  • Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve – designated by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network


Wings and Wetlands Festival

Visit Great Bend, Kansas in spring for a unique opportunity to bird two of the best birding locations in the region, Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, as well as other area hot spots.The Wings and Wetlands Festival is a biannual event, held in late April or early May. Beyond great bird watching experiences, the weekend festivities also include fun workshops, seminars, relaxing socials, and opportunities to experience area attractions along the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway. Early registration is recommended as space for this popular event fills quickly. Hope to see you at the next Festival.

For information on the next Wings & Wetlands Festival, click here.