Natural Wonders of Western Kansas
The low angle of the morning sun casts a bronze patina on the waters of Cheyenne Bottoms (nine miles northeast of Great Bend), silhouetting a striking array of birds. A slender white ibis stalks through the shallows. A pelican with its telltale pouch drifts in a nearby bay. Black-bellied plovers dip their wings and circle low for a landing.
That’s the kind of avian Grand Central Station you’ll find in west-central Kansas, where lush eastern and arid western prairies and low-lying wetlands converge. Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (18 miles southeast of Great Bend) provide a varied and abundant habitat that attracts more than 300 species of migrating birds from both the eastern and western United States. Naturalists believe more than half the nation’s shorebirds—as many as 500,000 geese and ducks—stop here for a rest on their way north.