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Bird is the word for Kansas City bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts
Bird is the word for Kansas City bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts

Kansas City Bird Watching 🐦 

Pandemic induced social isolation continues to cause many people to feel detached. Yet nature lovers tending to bird feeders and birdbaths — as well as those who commune with birds in area parks — never feel entirely alone. 🐦

Winged companions are fairly easy to befriend. While some fussy bird nerds make the process seem complicated, this guide provides straightforward tips to help beginners attract and appreciate birds.

Here are five easy steps to help our fellow amateur ornithologists connect to these feathered friends. 🕊️
1. Fine Feathered Friends
A delightful array of birds abound in the Kansas City area. While observing behaviors such as coupled parents tending to their broods, it’s difficult not to anthropomorphize the relatable creatures. Academics may discourage the practice, but assigning personalities to birds in these trying times is only natural.

Blue jays resemble loudmouthed bullies. Sparrows are timid wallflowers. 🌼 Cardinals sport audacious mohawks like brash punk-rockers. Gloriously plumed flickers behave like royalty. Tiny hummingbirds resemble ethereal sprites. 🧚‍♀️ Quarrelsome grackles band together like gangs of ruffians. Robins, mourning doves, pigeons, goldfinches, thrashers and downy woodpeckers are among the other common birds with distinctive personality traits. 🕊️

Spend enough time observing them and you'll notice it, too.

2. Supper's Ready
Installing bird feeders and birdbaths is an easy way to bring birds to your home, but your options are partly dictated by your circumstances. A modest windowsill in a downtown apartment allows for different options than a large suburban yard capable of hosting a multi-station suburban aviary. Position feeders and baths for optimum vantage points. Most species become accustomed to your presence as long as you refrain from making sudden movements. 🐦

Birds will discover a new feeder as long as it’s visible from a distance and they have a clear flight path to the food — but be patient. ⏳ Depending on the type of bird and seasonal migratory patterns, it may take a few days or even a couple weeks for birds to find your offerings.

Countless forms of store-bought and homemade feeders are available, but four categories of feeders will attract the majority of birds in the area. Cages holding suet patties are popular with woodpeckers, sparrows and thrashers. Cardinals unable to easily latch onto suet cages are among the dozens of species preferring to feast on loose feeders. Finches go for sock-like bags of nyjer seed. 🌱 Elusive but magical hummingbirds require brightly-colored syrup receptacles. Here’s a helpful guide.  

Birdbaths are as important as feeders. ⛲️ As at an office water cooler, appreciative birds congregate at birdbaths on hot summer days. Watching them splash and slake their thirst is just as fascinating as studying their eating habits. 💧 Investing in a traditional concrete installation isn’t necessary; a simple bowl of water can be an oasis for parched birds.
3. Further Afield
Those unwilling or unable to make the investment in time and money to compel birds to come to them can instead opt to go to the birds.

Bringing binoculars to Kansas City’s many green spaces — Loose Park, Swope Park, Shawnee Mission Park and Powell Gardens among them — provides ample opportunities to spot elusive birds such as whip-or-wills, owls 🦉 and falcons as well as waterfowl like herons, ducks and bitterns. 🦆

Not exotic enough? Head to the Kansas City Zoo. In addition to being the home of the popular museum-going penguins, 🐧 the zoo boasts an African aviary, peacocks, 🦚 flamingos, swans and Asian waterfowl. 🦢 Other educational opportunities are available at sanctuaries like Lakeside Nature Center.

The region offers several places to observe bald eagles, but those willing to go a bit further afield can experience world-class birding in central Kansas. Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge are crucial magnets for migratory waterfowl.

Rewarding birding can also be done on screens. Thanks to a surprisingly riveting bird cam, a family of bald eagles nesting in Iowa became celebrities during the lockdown. 🦅

4. Bird is the Word
Published in 1920, Albert E. Shirling’s Birds of Swope Park is a charming 127-page book about the bird population at Kansas City’s “magnificent playground.” In addition to his methodical census of birds in Swope Park, Shirling bemoans the addition of roads in the park: “The honk of the auto horn and the rattle of the car in such a region jars the celestial harmonies of nature.”

The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots and Birds of Missouri Field Guide are among the innumerable books published in the last hundred years. Helpful online guides include Audubon’s Birding in Kansas and Audubon's Birding in Missouri. 📚

 More Adventures in Kansas City

Crown Center WeekEnder 2020

Cap off your work week with local bands and your favorite food trucks, with plenty of space to social distance. Catch The Accidental Moguls Friday, July 24, at 6 p.m.
Monday Movie Nights

Join Heartland Conservation Alliance for a virtual series exploring Kansas City's natural resources. The event is free, but a $10 donation to HCA is recommended. Register and tune in Monday, July 27, at 7 p.m.

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Photo Credits:
1. Warren Lynn | Macaulay Library
2. WC Photography | Flickr

3. Steven Sachs | Audubon Photography Awards

4. The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots + Birds of Missouri Field Guide

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