Skip Navigation


Killdeer nest 512Phenology is the study of cyclical biological events, such as flowering, breeding, and migration, in relation to climatic conditions.

First of Season Bird Observations

The following table lists the dates for the first sighting of the season for migrants.


 Species Date
Fall 2014  
Lesser Yellowlegs June 16
Marbled Godwit, Stilt Sandpiper June 23
Least Sandpiper June 24
Greater Yellowlegs, Willet June 26
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher July 6
Spotted Sandpiper July 7
Short-billed Dowitcher July 11
Semipalmated Plover, Solitary Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Franklin's Gull July 15
Whimbrel July 18
Bank Swallow July 20
Buff-breasted Sandpiper August 3
Wilson's Snipe, American Redstart August 31
Savannah Sparrow September 6
American Coot, Ruby-crowned Kinglet September 7
Snow Goose, Ross' Goose September 8
Say's Phoebe, Nashville Warbler September 14
American Golden Plover September 19
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow September 21
G. White-fronted Goose, Osprey September 22
Orange-crowned Warbler September 23
Spotted Towhee October 3
Sandhill Crane October 4
Marsh Wren October 5
Eared Grebe, Herring Gull October 7
Canvasback, Le Conte's Sparrow October 9
Horned Grebe October 10
Prairie Falcon October 18
Bufflehead, Cedar Waxwing, Dark-eyed Junco October 21
Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow October 22
Swamp Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow October 24
American Tree Sparrow November 1
Fox Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow November 2
Common Merganser November 12
Common Goldeneye November 15
Rough-legged Hawk December 16
Spring 2015  
Sandhill Crane January 19
Redhead, Ring-necked Duck January 28
Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin January 30
Canvasback February 1
Tundra Swan, Ruddy Duck February 9
Northern Shoveler February 11
American Coot February 13
Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, American White Pelican February 15
Blue-winged Teal March 9
Baird's Sandpiper March 10
American Avocet, Snowy Plover March 17
Double-crested Cormorant March 20
Eastern Phoebe March 21
Bonaparte's Gull, Franklin's Gull, Belted Kingfisher, Tree Swallow, Vesper Sparrow March 24
Whooping Crane, Eared Grebe March 27
Pied-billed Grebe, Black-necked Stilt March 28
Yellow-headed Blackbird March 30
Peregrine Falcon, Swainson's Hawk March 31
Lincoln's Sparrow April 2
Lark Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow April 4
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher April 6
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher April 7
Great Egret, Marbled Godwit, Barn Swallow, Grasshopper Sparrow April 8
Say's Phoebe April 10
Orange-crowned Warbler April 11
Brown Thrasher April 14
Cliff Swallow April 17
Cattle Egret, Semipalmated Plover, Wilson's Phalarope, Barn Swallow April 18
Western Kingbird, Western Grebe April 20
Piping Plover, N. Rough-winged Swallow April 21
Upland Sandpiper, Common Yellowthroat April 22
Spotted Sandpiper, Willet April 23
Eastern Kingbird April 24
Sanderling, Solitary Sandpiper, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow Warbler April 25
Western Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Warbling Vireo April 26
Dunlin April 27
Baltimore Oriole April 28
White-rumped Sandpiper, Chimney Swift, Least Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Bank Swallow, Dickcissel April 30
Blue Grosbeak May 1
Red-headed Woodpecker May 2
Black Rail May 3
Bell's Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Orchard Oriole May 4
Ruddy Turnstone, Black Tern May 7
Least Tern, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Wood Pewee, Swainson's Thrush, Indigo Bunting May 9
Yellow-breasted Chat May 11
Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting May 13
Wilson's Warbler May 14
Red-necked Phalarope May 21
Fall 2015  
Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher July 1
Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper July 7
Marbled Godwit July 13
Semipalmated Plover July 21
Western Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper July 28
Sanderling August 17
Willet, Peregrine Falcon August 16
Sanderling, Short-billed Dowitcher August 17
Buff-breasted Sandpiper August 20
Red-necked Phalarope, Merlin, Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Wilson's Warbler September 7
Lincoln's Sparrow September 14
Sandhill Crane September 26
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler October 1
Bonaparte's Gull, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow October 2
Herring Gull October 6
Vesper Sparrow October 7
G. White-fronted Goose, Ring-necked Duck, American Pipit, Clay-colored Sparrow, Dickcissel October 8
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Spotted Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco October 9
Sedge Wren October 10
Swamp Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow October 15
Brewer's Blackbird October 18
White-throated Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow October 24
Bufflehead, American Tree Sparrow October 27
Prairie Falcon November 7
Eared Grebe November 12
Spring 2016  
American White Pelican,  January 28
Sandhill Crane January 29
Greater Yellowlegs February 11
Northern Shoveler, American Coot February 17
Killdeer, Mourning Dove February 19
Ruddy Duck February 23
Baird's Sandpiper February 25
Double-crested Cormorant March 1
Blue-winged Teal March 2
Wood Duck, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe March 10
Eastern Phoebe March 15
Eared Grebe, Vesper Sparrow March 19
Tree Swallow March 25
Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet March 27
American Bittern, Long-billed Curlew, American Golden Plover March 28
Bonaparte's Gull March 29
Cliff Swallow April 1
Franklin's Gull, Common Grackle April 4
Snowy Egret April 5
Bank Swallow, Yellow-headed Blackbird April 8
Chipping Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Lark Sparrow April 9
Western Sandpiper, Forster's Tern, House Wren, Brown Thrasher April 14
Orange-crowned Warbler April 16
Black-crowned Night Heron, Western Kingbird, Swainson's Thrush, Common Yellowthroat April 19
Spotted Sandpiper, White-throated Sparrow April 20
Solitary Sandpiper, Sanderling, Red-necked Phalarope, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole April 25
Stilt Sandpiper, Chimney Swift, Great Crested Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Indigo Bunting April 26
Gray Catbird May 2
Bell's Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Grasshopper Sparrow May 3
Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Blue Grosbeak May 4
Black Rail, Eastern Wood Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Northern Waterthrush May 6
Bobolink May 9
White-rumped Sandpiper, Least Tern, Common Nighthawk, American Redstart May 10
Ruddy Turnstone, Mississippi Kite May 16
Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Yellow-billed Cuckoo May 24


Phenology Events 


 Regal Fritillary 448

 Regal Fritillary, a prairie species found at Quivira in early summer.

Check this table to get a glimpse of the always-changing environment that is Quivira.


Date         Event
December 31 - January 1, 2013 Snow storm in area; Refuge received 2-3 inches of snow
January 11 Previous snow pack, 3/4 inch of rain, and increased surface sheet flow in the Big Salt Marsh area resulted in shallow water over a large percentage of the flats north of NE 170th, including North Lake
January 15 Cardinal heard singing several times for the first time this season
February 12 Eastern Bluebird heard singing near Headquarters
February 16 first butterfly seen (Checkered White); Eastern Bluebird observed checking nest hole in tree
February 17 first 70-degree day of year (70); first Mourning Cloak butterfly seen
February 20-21 snowstorm with approximately 12 inches of snow
February 24-25 another snowstorm, approximately 7-8 inches of additional snow
March 7 Silver Maple flowers blooming
March 9 Tiger Salamander observed on east boundary by visitors
March 10 morning dusting of snow
March 11 honeybees feeding on Silver Maple blossoms
March 15 first 80 degree temperature of year (86); red-eared slider turtles observed at Kids' Fishing Pond; Eastern Redcedar trees at peak of pollination
March 23-4 Approx. 5 inches of snow fell, much of it melted on the 24th
March 29 Activity at Bald Eagle nest suggests hatched young; Henbit in bloom
March 30 Chorus Frogs heard calling northwest of Big Salt Marsh
March 31 Flower buds on Sand Plum swelled and almost ready to open
April 8 Sand Plum blooming, about 20% flowers open; some Cottonwood flower buds opening
April 9 Storm struck Quivira in the evening, with hail, sleet, hard rain, and freezing rain; hail (mostly pea-sized) covered ground like snow
April 14 Musk Turtles seen on refuge roads; male Cottonwoods about 30-40% blooming
April 19 Hard freeze, low of 27
April 22-3 Overnight storm brought snow, freezing, rain, and hail; accumulation of about an inch; hard freeze overnight, low of 24 degrees
May 1-2 Overnight storm brought 1.5 inches (or more) of rain, and even some snow the next morning (which did not stick)
May 2 Wild Turkey nest found with 12 eggs
May 3 Light frost in the morning (low of 30)
May 9 Goose hatchlings seen for the first time (Unit 28)
May 10 Goose hatchlings seen at the Kids' Fishing Pond
May 11 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher observed building nest in Catalpa Grove
May 14 First day with a 90-degree temperature (92)
May 18 Northern Cardinal nest with eggs found in Turkey Grove
May 19 Mourning Dove nest with eggs found in Unit 28
May 23 First white-tailed deer fawn of the year seen near Headquarters
May 29-30 Refuge received from 3.5 to 4.2 inches of rain over a 24-hour period; large emergence of calling toads, including Great Plains and Plains Spadefoot (especially night of May 30)
May 31 Cottonwood female trees dropping cottony seeds
June 5 Red-winged Blackbird nest with eggs along Wildlife Drive
June 6 Snowy Plover nest with 3 eggs along NE 170th Street
June 11 Dozens of tadpoles seen in pools where toads had been calling after the recent rains
June 12 Regal Fritillaries were seen in many places throughout the Refuge
June 14 At bald eagle nest, 1 juvenile was seen in another tree next to nest, the other in the nest but very actively flapping and hopping around
June 16 Blue Grosbeak nest with eggs seen in the Rice County Unit
June 22 Snowy Plover nest of June 6 (above) with two very young hatchlings
June 23 No bald eagles on or near nest; Baltimore Oriole nest with young ready to fledge
June 25 First 100-degree day (103); juvenile bald eagle observed on the east side of Big Salt Marsh
June 26-27 Western Kingbird on nest along NE 140th Street; Second and third 100-degree days (101 and 106, respectively)
June 29 Black-necked Stilt observed on nest along Wildlife Drive; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on nest along City Service Road
July 8 First dog-day cicadas heard calling
July 9 Fourth 100-degree day (106)
July 12 Wood Duck hen with brood of seven ducklings seen in Big Salt Marsh
July 13 Fifth 100-degree day (102)
July 20 At least seven Least Terns on nests in south end of Refuge (one photographed with eggs); Lark Sparrow nest with eggs in Rice County Unit
July 21 Newly hatched Black-necked Stilt chicks (3) seen along NE 170th Street; Yellow-billed Cuckoo nest with young along City Service Road
July 23-August 5 Refuge received an average (depending on location) of just over 9 inches of rain over this two-week period
August 16-September 13 A dry, hot spell with no rain
August 25 Ditch along north side of NE 170th Street dry, with no water flowing
August 30 Sixth 100-degree day (100)
September 7 Seventh 100-degree day (100)
September 15 Ditches along both sides of NE 170th Street with flowing water
September 19 Small clumps of migrating Monarch butterflies observed near Headquarters (not seen mid-day on the 20th)
October 7 First low temperature below 40 (37)
October 18 First low of 32 degrees; up to about an estimated 3 inches of heavy snow fell (but did not stick)
October 19 First frost
November 2 Peak of fall color on cottonwoods
November 9-10 Possible peak of waterfowl migration, with an estimated half-million ducks/geese at Quivira
November 12 First extended hard freeze and first low temperature below 20 (17); some ice formation in shallow areas
November 21-22 Cold conditions (extended sub-freezing temperatures) resulted in ice-formation in all shallow areas
December 4-10 Cold wave beginning during day on 4th through 10th, did not get above freezing during period; low temp of -3 on the 7th
December 15-16 High temperatures in the 60s (61 and 64, respectively)
December 21 Approximately 9 inches of snow fell refuge-wide
December 23 2nd Low temperature below zero (-2)
January 1, 2014 Approximately 1 inch of snow fell during the day
January 4 Approximately 1-2 inches of snow fell overnight
January 6 3rd low temperature below zero, and lowest temperature thus far this winter (-6)
January 28 Cardinal heard singing for the first time this season
February 3-4 Approximately 8-9 inches of snow fell
February 10-11 Approximately 4 inches of snow fell, adding to the previous week's amount
February 17 Big and Little Salt Marshes approximately 70% ice-free
February 18 High temperature in the 70s for the first time (74)
February 20 Wet snow/rain mix in morning (no accumulation)
February 21      Red-winged Blackbirds seen calling on territories; Robins heard singing
February 25-26 Half-inch of snow fell overnight
February 28 An estimated 15,000 Sandhill Cranes were observed at Big Salt Marsh
March 1-2 4.5 inches of snow fell, mostly on 3/2; unofficial total for season so far is 32 inches
March 3 4th low temperature below zero (-8), and lowest temperature of the season
March 13 Turtles seen basking at Park Smith Pond
March 31 Dragonfly and butterfly observed
April 6      Chorus Frogs heard calling
April 8      Golden Currant bushes blooming; Sand Plum buds swelled and ready to bloom
April 9 First high temperature 80 or above (88); about 5% of Sand Plum flowers open; Fence Lizard seen
April 11 A few male cottonwood trees have open flower buds; first Monarch Butterfly observed
April 12 First high temperature of 90 or above (94)
April 14 About an inch of wet snow fell overnight; light freeze (30)
April 15 Hard freeze overnight (22)
April 18 Black Swallowtail butterfly observed
April 21 Ornate Box Turtle and Common Snapping Turtle seen along roads
May 4 Hatchling Killdeer observed in Unit 30
May 8      Canada Geese seen with goslings
May 23 Hatchling Snowy Plover seen near Big Salt Marsh
May 26 First white-tailed deer fawn seen
May 28 Female cottonwood trees dropping cottony seeds
June 3 First Regal Fritillary butterfly observed
June 6 16 Least Terns seen on the west side of the Wildlife Drive
June 8 Bobcat observed just south of main entrance
June 9 Large rain event produced at least 3 inches of rain in less than 24 hours; water flowing over NE 170th street in 2 locations
June 20 Chipping Sparrow singing at Headquarters (rare in summer)
July 2 Eastern Phoebe on nest at Headquarters
July 6 Bobcat observed along south boundary west of Headquarters
July 6 Badger observed in Unit 11
July 15 Least Tern on nest in Unit 11
July 25 first 100-degree temperature for high (101)
July 27 brood of Redhead ducklings observed on Big Salt Marsh
July 31 A flock of 12 Least Terns observed on Unit 7
August 7 Snowy Plover with newly-hatched chick along NE 170th (late)
September 13 first frost at Quivira (34)
November 1 first hard freeze (28)
November 11 extreme cold temperatures and wind chills (highs below freezing); ice forming in shallow areas
November 12 most or all shallow water areas frozen; Big and Little Salt Marshes about 80% ice-covered
November 15 Trace of snow fell refuge-wide
November 16 2 inches of snow fell (south end); trace on north end
December 17-18 3 inches of snow fell
January 27 High temperature of 83 degrees
February 15 2 inches of snow fell
February 17 Trace of snow fell
February 19 Bald Eagle sitting on nest (probably incubating) for first time
February 21-22 2 inches of snow fell
Feb. 28 - March 2 2 inches of snow fell
March 10 Mourning Dove heard singing; Pheasants heard calling throughout the Refuge
March 17 Henbit seen in bloom
March 24 Buds getting ready to open on Sand Plum; Golden Currant leaves opening
March 27 Trace of snow
April 1 Male cottonwoods blooming (some)
April 2 storm with very strong straight-line winds came through in overnight hours
April 7 Ornate Box Turtle observed
April 13 Puccoon seen in bloom
April 14 Black and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails observed in HQ lawn
April 16-19 From 4-5 inches of rain fell at Quivira, and more to the southwest, resulting in a huge surge of water within the Rattlesnake Creek watershed, as well as within the Big Salt Marsh basin; highest water levels in 8 years
May 4 Black Locust trees in peak bloom
May 7 Cottonwood seeds observed blowing in the wind; Snowy Plover sitting on a nest of 3 eggs along NE 170th
May 9 First Monarch butterfly observed; Killdeer hatchlings observed
May 10 Hooded Merganser hen seen with 12 hatchlings
May 26 First White-tailed Deer fawn observed
June 3 First temperature recorded of 90 degrees or above (90)
June 5 First Regal Fritillary observed; Hatchling Wilson's Phalarope observed
June 11 Pied-billed Grebe observed sitting on eggs; Hooded Merganser hen observed with 2 hatchlings
June 12 Wood Duck seen with 12 hatchlings
June 19 Black-necked Stilt seen with 2 hatchlings
June 20 Tiger Salamander tadpoles seen in several wetlands during sampling
July 13 First temperature of 100 degrees or more (107); Covey of young Bobwhite seen
July 18 Second temperature of 100 or more degrees (103)
July 24 Third temperature of 110 or more degrees (103)
August 12 Newly hatched Mallard brood (6 ducklings) seen in Big Salt Marsh
September 10 several Monarch caterpillars found on milkweed plants
September 19 216 Monarch butterflies captured, tagged, and released during Monarch Mania event
October 2 first low temperature in the 40s this fall (43)
October 5-6 Porcupine observed along NE 140th Avenue
October 8 Large numbers of Monarch butterflies observed in flight throughout the refuge
October 13 First low temperature in the 30s this fall (39)
October 29 First hard freeze (26)
November 26-29 Several days of freezing rain, sleet, and snow
December 7 Still several thousand Sandhill Cranes using Quivira
January 28 First pelicans to return
January 29, 2016 First Sandhill Cranes to return
February 2, 2016 Red-winged Blackbirds setting up territories (scattered males calling from exposed perches in cattails)
February 10 First high temperature of the year in the 70s (72)
February 17 First Honeybees observed
February 18 First high temperatures of the year in the 80s (83); first snake observed (Racer)
March 1 Mourning Dove heard singing at Headquarters
March 10 Sand Plum buds ready to open
March 18 nearly a half-inch of moisture in the form of snow and rain
March 23 Chorus Frogs heard calling; Eastern Cottonwood trees beginning to bloom (male)
March 28 Dragonfly seen
April 16-20 About 2 inches of much-needed rain fell during the period
April 20 Canada Goose brood observed at Kid's Fishing Pond
April 25 Killdeer nest with 4 eggs found near classroom
April 29 About 2.5 of rain was recorded
May 2 Robin nest with eggs found near Headquarters
May 10 Killdeer hatchlings seen; Canada Goose brood
May 11 Turtle (Red-eared Slider) observed laying eggs
May 12      Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) in bloom     
May 14 Mourning Dove nest observed with eggs
May 17 Clasping Milkweed (A. amplexicaulis) in bloom
May 24 Snowy Plover nest observed with eggs



Last Updated: May 24, 2016
Return to main navigation