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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 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
Fall 2016  
Willet, Greater Yellowlegs June 23
Pectoral Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper June 24
Spotted Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher June 30
Marbled Godwit July 3
Bank Swallow July 5
Semipalmated Plover, Willet July 11
Cedar Waxwing July 20
Sanderling, Solitary Sandpiper July 28
Ruddy Turnstone August 2
Black-bellied Plover August 9
Northern Harrier August 23
Chipping Sparrow August 25
Marsh Wren August 26
Northern Shoveler August 29
Northern Waterthrush August 31
Savannah Sparrow September 4
Green-winged Teal, Eared Grebe, Merlin September 8
Greater White-fronted Goose, Northern Flicker (red-shafted), Sora September 20
Lincoln's Sparrow September 24
Hooded Merganser September 25
Ruby-crowned Kinglet September 26
Spotted Towhee October 1
Ring-necked Duck, Herring Gull, Short-eared Owl, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow October 2
Snow Goose October 19
Whooping Crane October 24
White-throated Sparrow October 28
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco October 31
Harris's Sparrow, Lapland Longspur November 1
American Tree Sparrow, Le Conte's Sparrow, Fox Sparrow November 2
Northern Shrike November 13
Horned Grebe November 15
Rough-legged Hawk, Mountain Bluebird November 16
Common Goldeneye November 19
Winter Wren November 26
Spring 2017  
Tundra Swan January 31
Pied-billed Grebe February 15
Cinnamon Teal February 21
Killdeer February 22
Blue-winged Teal, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher February 23
Eared Grebe March 4
Baird's Sandpiper March 7
Double-crested Cormorant, American Avocet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Eastern Phoebe March 9
Snowy Plover March 10
Tree Swallow March 17
American Bittern March 18
Wilson's Snipe, American Golden Plover, Franklin's Gull March 21
Vesper Sparrow March 30
Turkey Vulture, Chipping Sparrow March 31
Black-necked Stilt, Yellow-headed Blackbird April 2
Barn Swallow, Willet, Forster's Tern April 3
Wilson's Phalarope April 5
Swainson's Hawk April 6
Snowy Egret, Cliff Swallow April 7
White-faced Ibis, Lark Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher April 8
Bank Swallow      April 10
Common Yellowthroat, Great Egret, Hudsonian Godwit, N. Rough-winged Swallow April 11
Upland Sandpiper, Blue Jay April 17
Grasshopper Sparrow April 18
Spotted Sandpiper, Eastern Kingbird, Orange-crowned Warbler April 19
Great Crested Flycatcher April 20
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher April 22
Red-headed Woodpecker April 24
White-rumped Sandpiper April 27
Western Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Dickcissel, Baltimore Oriole April 28
Chimney Swift May 4
Orchard Oriole, Swainson's Thrush May 5


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
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, 2015 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 23 Showy Milkweed (A. speciosa) observed in bloom
May 24 Snowy Plover nest observed with eggs
May 25 First high temperature of 90 or above (90)
May 26 Orange Milkweed (A. tuberosa) observed in bloom
June 2 First Monarch butterfly observed
June 5 Snowy Plover hatchlings observed
June 7 First Regal Fritillary butterfly observed; Sand Milkweed (A. arenaria) observed in bloom
June 9 First White-tailed Deer fawn observed near HQ
June 15 First high temperature of 100 or above (102)
June 16 Second high temperature of 100 or above (101); Wood Duck brood observed
June 17 Third high temperature of 100 or above (100)
June 22 Fourth high temperature of 100 or above (101)
June 23 Green Milkweed (A. viridiflora) observed in bloom
July 1-2 About 4 inches of rain fell at the refuge overnight
July 3 Whorled Milkweed (A. verticillata) observed in bloom
August 23 At least a dozen Monarch butterflies observed throughout the Refuge
September 2 Monarch caterpillars found along Wildlife Drive
September 6 late hatchling Bobwhites seen just east of Refuge; more Monarch caterpillars found near Little Salt Marsh
September 8 Three young broods of Ruddy Ducks seen in Refuge:  2 on east side of Wildlife Drive, one in Unit 26
September 17 large numbers of Monarch butterflies throughout; 303 tagged for Monarch Mania
October 24 First Whooping Cranes were reported
November 12 First low temperature below freezing (29); 40 Whooping Cranes were present at dawn in the Big Salt Marsh area
November 15 Cicada still heard calling near HQ
December 17 First subzero low (-1); about an inch of snow fell
December 18 Low temperature was recorded at -14
January 7 Last single-digit low temperature (3)
January 13-15 Severe ice storm in area, with an estimated 1/2-inch coating of ice on trees; many downed branches; storm included around 2 inches of moisture
February 7 Honeybee observed
February 10 First high temperature in the 70s (78)
February 21 First butterfly observed (Goatweed Leafwing)
February 25 Last low temperature in the teens (13)
March 6 First high temperature in the 80s (83)
March 19 First high temperature in the 90s (93)
March 21 Sand Plum bushes at about 40% bloom; Golden Currant bushes about 5% bloom
March 26 - April 3 Over 4 inches of rain fell, after nearly 3 months of no rain
April 5 First dragonfly observed
April 10 First Monarchs of the spring seen (over a dozen) 
April 29 - May 3 Multiple rain events brought nearly 4 inches of rain



Last Updated: May 05, 2017
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