Finding Passion for the Plains | Midwest Living

Finding Passion for the Plains

Endless vistas and teeming wildlife await travelers who visit a pair of scenic Kansas byways for a wide-open brand of fall driving.

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What to Watch For

Grasslands

Fossils In limestone-heavy areas such as the Flint Hills, rocks found on the prairie contain abundant signs of tiny ancient sea creatures.

Big Bluestem Dominant on tallgrass prairies, this plant is known for its distinctive, "turkey foot" seed head that looks like a bird's toes.

Indian grass You can quickly spot this common tallgrass prairie plant by its showy golden seed head.

Western meadowlark A flutelike voice and yellow breast marked with a black V distinguish the state bird of Kansas (and several other states).

Red-tailed hawks Watch fence posts for this raptor with a four-foot wingspan.

Wetlands

Great blue herons Roadside marshes are prime spots to see them wading and grabbing fish, frogs and insects with a yellow, spearlike bill.

American Avocet Look for black-and-white avocets swinging their upturned bills side-to-side underwater to find insects.

Snow Geese For sheer numbers, it's hard to top these white birds with black-tipped wings, which travel in flocks up to the hundreds of thousands.

Whooping Cranes This endangered species is a prime trophy for bird- watching lists. Often seen in groups of gray sandhill cranes.

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