In terms of protection of, and management for, species of concern, several official levels of Threatened and Endangered status are recognized within the United States and within the State of Kansas. Below are the species of concern that occur regularly at Quivira. An Endangered species is one that is in danger of becoming extinct; a Threatened species is one whose population levels are low enough where the species could become Endangered. A Federal Candidate species is one that is under review for listing as a Threatened or Endangered species. In several cases, Quivira has been designated as Critical Habitat for certain species, either at the national or state level (or both).
The tallest North American bird, and one of the rarest: now numbering about 600 in the world, there were once as few as 16. Whooping Cranes occur regularly at Quivira each fall and spring. Fall migration typically occurs from late October through late November, while spring migration occurs from late March through early April. Whooping Crane utilize Quivira's shallow wetlands and lake borders for feeding and overnight roosting, and area crop fields for feeding.
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The Least Tern is a fairly common species along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico. Inland populations, typically found along large river systems, are declining. Quivira hosts a nesting population of these birds, in both the Big and Little Salt Marsh areas. Least Terns occur at the Refuge only during the summer.
This small, whitish shorebird occurs at Quivira from spring through early fall, and nests regularly on sand flats, primarily in the Big Salt Marsh area. Their populations have suffered declines similar to those of the Interior Least Tern, with whom they share habitat. Chicks leave the nest with the parents immediately after hatching in early summer. Sometimes, the birds nest along Refuge roads!
The Arkansas Darter is a small stream fish found in spring-fed, slow-moving streams. A small population occurs around Quivira's artesian springs.
The Piping Plover, a small shorebird similar to the Snowy Plover, occurs at Quivira occasionally during migration. It is listed as Threatened at both the federal and state level. The Eastern Spotted Skunk and Plains Minnow, both listed as Threatened in Kansas, have not recently been documented at Quivira. Another Federal Candidate for listing, the Lesser Prairie Chicken, is also not believed to occur here. The State of Kansas also recognizes Species in Need of Conservation (SINC) throughout the state. Species with that status that occur at Quivira include: Black Rail, Black Tern, Eastern Hognose Snake, Western Hognose Snake, Ferruginous Hawk, Golden Eagle, Long-billed Curlew, Short-eared Owl, and Southern Bog Lemming.
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The tallest North American bird, and one of the rarest: now numbering about 600 in the world, there were once as few as 16.