Kool Kansas Birds

May 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm (Bird photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , , , , )

Male Dickcissel in Kansas

Male Dickcissel in Kansas

Several years ago I made a point of going through Eastern Kansas on my way back to Maine from Texas, as it was the only state besides Hawaii that I had not been to.  To my surprise, that region known as the Flint Hills is actually quite lovely.  I had intended to re-visit the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and the Konza Prairie Biological Station near Manhattan, KS this week, but the weather was cold, rainy, and very very windy. However, I did make it to the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge near Emporia before the cold front came through.

Male Dickcissel

Male Dickcissel

I was very happy to add a new bird to my Life List – the handsome Dickcissel (often misspelled Dicksissel).  The males were busy setting up territories, and if they faced me, their bright yellow breasts made them easy to find.  They look like a cross between a sparrow and a meadowlark.

Female Dickcissel

Female Dickcissel

The song did not match my iBird Pro recordings, but I figured it out. Dozens and dozens of these little songsters were pouring their hearts out for a mate.


The Lark Sparrow is one of the more handsome sparrows, and they were plentiful as well.

Lark Sparrow, male

Lark Sparrow, male

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Eastern Kingbirds perched on the barbed wire, but I never did get a good pose with the famed long, forked tail.

Scissor-Tail Flycatcher

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Photographing from the car generally allows one to get closer to roadside birds as the vehicle acts as a blind.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in flight

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in flight

I was surprised that I remembered the song of the Bell’s Vireo, since the only time I’d ever heard it was in Big Bend National Park, Texas.  And here it was in Kansas!

Bell's Vireo, male

Bell’s Vireo, male

Even though the weather was crummy, the ride up Route 77 to Nebraska was still quite lovely.  Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to see this area later, when the grass is tall and the wildflowers and sunflowers are in full bloom.

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1 Comment

  1. mbkircus said,

    Great birds. I basically remember the Bell’s vireo as one that sings constantly, up until about noon and then starts up again in the late afternoon. We were covered up in them at South Llano River State Park.

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