Shorebirds are a large and diverse group of birds that typically feed on shorelines, mudflats, and in shallow water. The group includes, but is not limited to, plovers, sandpipers, phalaropes, yellowlegs, and snipe. Although located in the center of the Great Plains, Quivira is uniquely situated in the center of the Central Flyway, one of the busiest of North America's four migration pathways. A virtual oasis in the prairie, Quivira attracts migrating shorebirds by the thousands in spring and fall.
A small sandpiper, or "peep"
Beginning as early as February, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, along with a few sandpipers commonly called "peeps", begin appearing on their northward journey. Numbers of species and birds increase until a peak in mid-May, when shorebirds can be found just about anywhere there is water at Quivira. There is a short lull of just a few weeks during June, after which the "fall" southward migration begins for many species by early July. This period of shorebird occurrence typically peaks in late August and September.
Shorebirds do not just occur as migrants at Quivira. Several species use Quivira's wetlands to nest. These are extant breeding populations, where the next nearest breeding populations may be hundreds of miles from Quivira. Nesting species include Wilson's Phalarope, Snowy Plover, American Avocet, and Black-necked Stilt.
Snowy Plover with hatchling
To the uninitiated, shorebirds are often grouped into the "little brown bird" category, due to the difficulty of telling many species apart. Although especially true with sandpipers, several species of shorebirds are actually strikingly-patterned and easy to identify. Below are some of the most well-know species at Quivira.
For more photos, see our Shorebird gallery.
Follow Us Online
The tallest North American bird, and one of the rarest: now numbering about 600 in the world, there were once as few as 16.