Killdeer nest on ground

Phenology 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.


Spring 2017 
Tundra SwanJanuary 31
Pied-billed GrebeFebruary 15
Cinnamon TealFebruary 21
KilldeerFebruary 22
Blue-winged Teal, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed DowitcherFebruary 23
Eared GrebeMarch 4
Baird's SandpiperMarch 7
Double-crested Cormorant, American Avocet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Eastern PhoebeMarch 9
Snowy PloverMarch 10
Tree SwallowMarch 17
American BitternMarch 18
Wilson's Snipe, American Golden Plover, Franklin's GullMarch 21
Vesper SparrowMarch 30
Turkey Vulture, Chipping SparrowMarch 31
Black-necked Stilt, Yellow-headed BlackbirdApril 2
Barn Swallow, Willet, Forster's TernApril 3
Wilson's PhalaropeApril 5
Swainson's HawkApril 6
Snowy Egret, Cliff SwallowApril 7
White-faced Ibis, Lark Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Blue-gray GnatcatcherApril 8
Bank Swallow     April 10
Common Yellowthroat, Great Egret, Hudsonian Godwit, N. Rough-winged SwallowApril 11
Upland Sandpiper, Blue JayApril 17
Grasshopper SparrowApril 18
Spotted Sandpiper, Eastern Kingbird, Orange-crowned WarblerApril 19
Great Crested FlycatcherApril 20
Scissor-tailed FlycatcherApril 22
Red-headed WoodpeckerApril 24
White-rumped SandpiperApril 27
Western Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Dickcissel, Baltimore OrioleApril 28
Chimney SwiftMay 4
Orchard Oriole, Swainson's ThrushMay 5
BobolinkMay 11
Yellow-billed CuckooMay 13
Fall, 2017 
Marbled Godwit, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, DunlinJuly 11
Bank SwallowJuly 18
Semipalmated PloverJuly 21
Franklin's GullJuly 28
Red-necked Phalarope, Forster's TernAugust 8
Green-winged Teal, Northern Harrier, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling, Buff-breasted SandpiperAugust 23
Wilson's SnipeAugust 28
American Wigeon, Gadwall, Savannah SparrowSeptember 6
Marsh Wren, Cedar WaxwingSeptember 11
Vesper SparrowSeptember 22
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Lincoln's SparrowSeptember 23
Greater White-fronted GooseSeptember 26
White-crowned SparrowSeptember 30
CanvasbackOctober 5
Ring-necked Duck, Osprey, Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song SparrowOctober 7
Sandhill Crane, Herring GullOctober 10
Brewer's Blackbird, Harris's SparrowOctober 17
Snow Goose, Le Conte's SparrowOctober 18
Cacklinlg Goose, BuffleheadOctober 31
Hooded Merganser, Rough-legged HawkNovember 1
Horned Grebe, Fox SparrowNovember 8
Tundra SwanNovember 9
Mountain BluebirdNovember 15
Spring, 2018 
American White PelicanJanuary 29
Bufflehead, Lesser ScaupFebruary 14
American CootFebruary 15
Redhead, Gadwall, Killdeer, Wood DuckFebruary 26
Northern Shoveler, Greater YellowlegsFebruary 27
Baird's Sandpiper, American PipitMarch 2
American AvocetMarch 5
Ring-necked DuckMarch 6
Blue-winged Teal, Mourning Dove, Eastern PhoebeMarch 8
Lincoln's Sparrow, Common GrackleMarch 9
Lesser YellowlegsMarch 16
Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Yellow-headed BlackbirdMarch 22
Tree SwallowMarch 23
Franklin's GullMarch 26
Marsh WrenMarch 28
Wilson's SnipeMarch 30
Great Egret, Vesper SparrowMarch 31
American Avocet, Marbled GodwitApril 9
Snowy Egret, White-faced Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Barn Swallow, House Wren, Sedge Wren, Chipping Sparrow, Lark SparrowApril 12
Peregrine Falcon, Hudsonian Godwit, Western Kingbird, Cliff SwallowApril 13
Forster's TernApril 14
American Bittern     April 16
N. Rough-winged Swallow, Brown Thrasher, Clay-colored SparrowApril 17
Eastern KingbirdApril 18
Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Phalarope, Blue-gray GnatcatcherApril 21
Semipalmated Plover, Spotted SandpiperApril 22
Blue Jay, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Spotted TowheeApril 28
DickcisselApril 30
Great Crested Flycatcher, Baltimore OrioleMay 1
Warbling Vireo, Blue GrosbeakMay 2
Red-headed Woodpecker, Bell's Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Orchard OrioleMay 3
Gray Catbird, Grasshopper SparrowMay 5
Chimney SwiftMay 10
White-rumped Sandpiper, Least Tern, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Wood Pewee, Least FlycatcherMay 11
Black Tern, Yellow-billed CuckooMay 12
Semipalmated SandpiperJuly 2
Spotted Sandpiper     July 9
Baird's Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Western SandpiperJuly 12
SanderlingJuly 17
Semipalmated Plover, WilletJuly 23
Fall, 2018 
Green-winged TealSeptember 6
American RedstartSeptember 16
Wilson's Snipe, Northern HarrierSeptember 20
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, OspreySeptember 21
Savannah Sparrow, Vesper SparrowSeptember 25
Greater White-fronted GooseSeptember 26
Yellow-rumped WarblerSeptember 27
Sandhill CraneOctober 2
American PipitOctober 4
Whooping CraneOctober 5
Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Dark-eyed JuncoOctober 7
Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Harris's SparrowOctober 11
Canvasback, Snow GooseOctober 15
BuffleheadOctober 16
American Tree SparrowOctober 28
Rough-legged Hawk, Common GoldeneyeNovember 10
Common MerganserNovember 12
Lapland LongspurNovember 15
Mountain BluebirdNovember 19
Spring 2019 
American CootMarch 10
Mourning Dove, KilldeerMarch 15
American White Pelican, Greater YellowlegsMarch 16
Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Baird's SandpiperMarch 18
Double-crested Cormorant, Long-billed Dowitcher, Bonaparte's Gull, Eastern Phoebe, Common Grackle, Sedge WrenMarch 19
Turkey VultureMarch 22
Great Egret, Snowy Plover, Tree SwallowMarch 24
American Bittern, Vesper SparrowMarch 28
Black-necked StiltMarch 31
Franklin's GullApril 4
Snowy Egret, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Lark Sparrow, American AvocetApril 8


Phenology Events 


 Regal Fritillary on Showy Milkweed

 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, 2014Approximately 1 inch of snow fell during the day
January 4Approximately 1-2 inches of snow fell overnight
January 63rd low temperature below zero, and lowest temperature thus far this winter (-6)
January 28Cardinal heard singing for the first time this season
February 3-4Approximately 8-9 inches of snow fell
February 10-11Approximately 4 inches of snow fell, adding to the previous week's amount
February 17Big and Little Salt Marshes approximately 70% ice-free
February 18High temperature in the 70s for the first time (74)
February 20Wet snow/rain mix in morning (no accumulation)
February 21     Red-winged Blackbirds seen calling on territories; Robins heard singing
February 25-26Half-inch of snow fell overnight
February 28An estimated 15,000 Sandhill Cranes were observed at Big Salt Marsh
March 1-24.5 inches of snow fell, mostly on 3/2; unofficial total for season so far is 32 inches
March 34th low temperature below zero (-8), and lowest temperature of the season
March 13Turtles seen basking at Park Smith Pond
March 31Dragonfly and butterfly observed
April 6     Chorus Frogs heard calling
April 8     Golden Currant bushes blooming; Sand Plum buds swelled and ready to bloom
April 9First high temperature 80 or above (88); about 5% of Sand Plum flowers open; Fence Lizard seen
April 11A few male cottonwood trees have open flower buds; first Monarch Butterfly observed
April 12First high temperature of 90 or above (94)
April 14About an inch of wet snow fell overnight; light freeze (30)
April 15Hard freeze overnight (22)
April 18Black Swallowtail butterfly observed
April 21Ornate Box Turtle and Common Snapping Turtle seen along roads
May 4Hatchling Killdeer observed in Unit 30
May 8     Canada Geese seen with goslings
May 23Hatchling Snowy Plover seen near Big Salt Marsh
May 26First white-tailed deer fawn seen
May 28Female cottonwood trees dropping cottony seeds
June 3First Regal Fritillary butterfly observed
June 616 Least Terns seen on the west side of the Wildlife Drive
June 8Bobcat observed just south of main entrance
June 9Large rain event produced at least 3 inches of rain in less than 24 hours; water flowing over NE 170th street in 2 locations
June 20Chipping Sparrow singing at Headquarters (rare in summer)
July 2Eastern Phoebe on nest at Headquarters
July 6Bobcat observed along south boundary west of Headquarters
July 6Badger observed in Unit 11
July 15Least Tern on nest in Unit 11
July 25first 100-degree temperature for high (101)
July 27brood of Redhead ducklings observed on Big Salt Marsh
July 31A flock of 12 Least Terns observed on Unit 7
August 7Snowy Plover with newly-hatched chick along NE 170th (late)
September 13first frost at Quivira (34)
November 1first hard freeze (28)
November 11extreme cold temperatures and wind chills (highs below freezing); ice forming in shallow areas
November 12most or all shallow water areas frozen; Big and Little Salt Marshes about 80% ice-covered
November 15Trace of snow fell refuge-wide
November 162 inches of snow fell (south end); trace on north end
December 17-183 inches of snow fell
January 27, 2015High temperature of 83 degrees
February 152 inches of snow fell
February 17Trace of snow fell
February 19Bald Eagle sitting on nest (probably incubating) for first time
February 21-222 inches of snow fell
Feb. 28 - March 22 inches of snow fell
March 10Mourning Dove heard singing; Pheasants heard calling throughout the Refuge
March 17Henbit seen in bloom
March 24Buds getting ready to open on Sand Plum; Golden Currant leaves opening
March 27Trace of snow
April 1Male cottonwoods blooming (some)
April 2storm with very strong straight-line winds came through in overnight hours
April 7Ornate Box Turtle observed
April 13Puccoon seen in bloom
April 14Black and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails observed in HQ lawn
April 16-19From 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 4Black Locust trees in peak bloom
May 7Cottonwood seeds observed blowing in the wind; Snowy Plover sitting on a nest of 3 eggs along NE 170th
May 9First Monarch butterfly observed; Killdeer hatchlings observed
May 10Hooded Merganser hen seen with 12 hatchlings
May 26First White-tailed Deer fawn observed
June 3First temperature recorded of 90 degrees or above (90)
June 5First Regal Fritillary observed; Hatchling Wilson's Phalarope observed
June 11Pied-billed Grebe observed sitting on eggs; Hooded Merganser hen observed with 2 hatchlings
June 12Wood Duck seen with 12 hatchlings
June 19Black-necked Stilt seen with 2 hatchlings
June 20Tiger Salamander tadpoles seen in several wetlands during sampling
July 13First temperature of 100 degrees or more (107); Covey of young Bobwhite seen
July 18Second temperature of 100 or more degrees (103)
July 24Third temperature of 110 or more degrees (103)
August 12Newly hatched Mallard brood (6 ducklings) seen in Big Salt Marsh
September 10several Monarch caterpillars found on milkweed plants
September 19216 Monarch butterflies captured, tagged, and released during Monarch Mania event
October 2first low temperature in the 40s this fall (43)
October 5-6Porcupine observed along NE 140th Avenue
October 8Large numbers of Monarch butterflies observed in flight throughout the refuge
October 13First low temperature in the 30s this fall (39)
October 29First hard freeze (26)
November 26-29Several days of freezing rain, sleet, and snow
December 7Still several thousand Sandhill Cranes using Quivira
January 28First pelicans to return
January 29, 2016First Sandhill Cranes to return
February 2, 2016Red-winged Blackbirds setting up territories (scattered males calling from exposed perches in cattails)
February 10First high temperature of the year in the 70s (72)
February 17First Honeybees observed
February 18First high temperatures of the year in the 80s (83); first snake observed (Racer)
March 1Mourning Dove heard singing at Headquarters
March 10Sand Plum buds ready to open
March 18nearly a half-inch of moisture in the form of snow and rain
March 23Chorus Frogs heard calling; Eastern Cottonwood trees beginning to bloom (male)
March 28Dragonfly seen
April 16-20About 2 inches of much-needed rain fell during the period
April 20Canada Goose brood observed at Kid's Fishing Pond
April 25Killdeer nest with 4 eggs found near classroom
April 29About 2.5 of rain was recorded
May 2Robin nest with eggs found near Headquarters
May 10Killdeer hatchlings seen; Canada Goose brood
May 11Turtle (Red-eared Slider) observed laying eggs
May 12     Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) in bloom     
May 14Mourning Dove nest observed with eggs
May 17Clasping Milkweed (A. amplexicaulis) in bloom
May 23Showy Milkweed (A. speciosa) observed in bloom
May 24Snowy Plover nest observed with eggs
May 25First high temperature of 90 or above (90)
May 26Orange Milkweed (A. tuberosa) observed in bloom
June 2First Monarch butterfly observed
June 5Snowy Plover hatchlings observed
June 7First Regal Fritillary butterfly observed; Sand Milkweed (A. arenaria) observed in bloom
June 9First White-tailed Deer fawn observed near HQ
June 15First high temperature of 100 or above (102)
June 16Second high temperature of 100 or above (101); Wood Duck brood observed
June 17Third high temperature of 100 or above (100)
June 22Fourth high temperature of 100 or above (101)
June 23Green Milkweed (A. viridiflora) observed in bloom
July 1-2About 4 inches of rain fell at the refuge overnight
July 3Whorled Milkweed (A. verticillata) observed in bloom
August 23At least a dozen Monarch butterflies observed throughout the Refuge
September 2Monarch caterpillars found along Wildlife Drive
September 6late hatchling Bobwhites seen just east of Refuge; more Monarch caterpillars found near Little Salt Marsh
September 8Three young broods of Ruddy Ducks seen in Refuge:  2 on east side of Wildlife Drive, one in Unit 26
September 17large numbers of Monarch butterflies throughout; 303 tagged for Monarch Mania
October 24First Whooping Cranes were reported
November 12First low temperature below freezing (29); 40 Whooping Cranes were present at dawn in the Big Salt Marsh area
November 15Cicada still heard calling near HQ
December 17First subzero low (-1); about an inch of snow fell
December 18Low temperature was recorded at -14
January 7Last single-digit low temperature (3)
January 13-15Severe 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 7Honeybee observed
February 10First high temperature in the 70s (78)
February 21First butterfly observed (Goatweed Leafwing)
February 25Last low temperature in the teens (13)
March 6First high temperature in the 80s (83)
March 19First high temperature in the 90s (93)
March 21Sand Plum bushes at about 40% bloom; Golden Currant bushes about 5% bloom
March 26 - April 3Over 4 inches of rain fell, after nearly 3 months of no rain
April 5First dragonfly observed
April 10First Monarchs of the spring seen (over a dozen) 
April 29 - May 3Multiple rain events brought nearly 4 inches of rain
May 9first Canada Goose brood observed
May 31The only day during May that reached or exceeded 90 degrees (91)
June 8Brood of American Coots observed unit 30 (3 young)
June 9Wood Duck brood observed e of HQ (5 young)
June 13Blue-winged Teal brood observed (9 young)
June 28King Rail pair of adults observed with a brood of 10 chicks
July 6Wilson's Phalarope adult male observed with 3 chicks
July 11First high temperature of 100 or above (101)
July 11Over 1700 American Avocets and over 300 Black-necked Stilts observed during survey
July 12Second high temp of 100 or above (100)
July 18Third high temp of 100 or above (100)
July 19Fourth high temp of 100 or above (101)
July 20Fifth high temp of 100 or above (103)
July 21Sixth high temp of 100 or above (105)
July 22Seventh high temp of 100 or above (106)
July 24Eighth high temp of 100 or above (100)
August 30first fall low under 50 degrees (49)
September 17138 Monarchs tagged during Monarch Mania event
Sept. 18-22Peak of Monarch migration
September 25over 2 inches of badly-needed rain fell
October 6about 1 inch of rain fell
October 7dozens of Monarch butterflies observed flying through the Refuge
October 10first fall low under 40 degrees (36)
October 27first low below freezing, hard freeze (25)
November 22first low below 20 degrees (19)
December 26first single-digit low (6)
December 31first sub-zero low (-4)
January 10first high of the year above 60 (64)
February 14first high of the year above 70 (74)
February 28turtles seen basking at Kids Fishing Pond
March 7Muskrat observed swimming in Little Salt Marsh
March 15first high to reach 80 or above (80)
March 19first measurable rainfall in nearly 5 months (+/- 1.5 inches)
March 23dragonfly seen flying north of Little Salt Marsh
April 12first temperature over 90 degrees (94)
May 15Canada Goose brood observed in Big Salt Marsh
May 28Black-necked Stilt on nest
June 1Wild Turkey nest found with 12 eggs
June 5Red-winged Blackbird nest with eggs, Migrants Mile
June 6first fawn observed; first Regal Fritillary butterfly observed
June 11Brood of Wood Ducks observed
June 28     first high to reach 100 or above (100)
July 23Monarch butterflies seen on refuge; Least Tern hatchling observed
August 141.4 inches of rain recorded at Big Salt Marsh
September 6Least Terns still present
October 19-21Over 30 Whooping Cranes were recorded at the Refuge over the period
January 4adult eagles at Santana nest site
February 13eagle apparently incubating at Santana nest; adult eagles bringing sticks to SW Big Salt Marsh nest
February 13Red-winged Blackbirds calling on territories