Apr 02, 2024

April is the time to see whooping cranes at Bottoms, Quivira

Posted Apr 02, 2024 12:00 PM

Great Bend Post

Bird watchers are always aware of activity at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Stafford County. The eyes get a little more focused around the first week of April. Historic bird counts indicate now is the time to see whooping cranes. Only around 500 of the birds remain in the North American flock that travels between Texas and northern Canada. Birders reported 29 of the birds at Quivira and 26 at Cheyenne Bottoms over the weekend. Kansas Wetlands Education Center Director Curtis Wolf said now is the time to catch a rare glimpse.

"This first week of April is the time to see whooping cranes and, oftentimes, it's big groups of whooping cranes," he said. "Some of the largest congregations that have been recorded that come through this area, it's this first week of April."

Cheyenne Bottoms continues to battle dry conditions. Most of the standing water at the wetlands is now confined to Pool 1A just across the road from the KWEC. Beyond the cranes, the Bottoms still has plenty of other migrating birds passing through to open spring.

"It's so hard to even describe to the average person what is going on with birds coming through," Wolf said. "It's amazing. So many people around here have no clue this is going on and that we're getting these arrivals, these birds showing up."

Wolf said it can be frustrating to try and pin down the location of whooping cranes. They typically arrive in the late afternoon or early evening, roost overnight, and leave by 9 or 10 a.m. the following day. Strong winds or otherwise significantly bad weather may keep the birds in place longer.