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Celebration of Cranes coming to Quivira refuge
Photo credit: Dave Rintoul - Whooping Cranes wade at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

STAFFORD COUNTY — Audubon of Kansas (AOK) will host its 4th annual Celebration of Cranes event Nov. 5-6, at the Hudson Community Center and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (QNWR).

This event offers self-guided tours that begin in Hudson, with maps of locations most likely to have migrating Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes, the two crane species native to North America. Volunteers will be along the route to help. Dawn and dusk start times maximize the opportunity to see cranes and other wetland species. In Hudson, during the late morning and afternoon on Saturday, AOK will host engaging talks about a variety of environmental topics, presented by experts from throughout the state. 

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is a key stopover point for the federally endangered Whooping Crane as it migrates annually between its breeding grounds in Canada and its wintering grounds on the Texas coast. The Whooping Cranes migrate within flocks of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, the other native North American crane species.

The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America at a height of about 5 feet, and with a wingspan of more than 7 feet. It is a striking white bird, with a crimson cap and an elaborate and elegant courtship dancing ritual. The numbers of Whooping Cranes are estimated to be about 600 today, up from a low of approximately 20 in the 1940s.

AOK Board Trustee and Celebration of Cranes Chairperson Cindy Jeffrey has this to say about the Celebration:

“When seeing a bird, any bird really, my spirit always lifts a bit, I must smile no matter how my day is going. But when I see thousands of Sandhill Cranes rise in the morning mist of a wetland, it is truly a spiritual experience. And if lucky enough to see one or more Whooping Cranes, I feel like a child on Christmas morning. That is what Quivira National Wildlife Refuge offers to those who are lucky enough to visit during the migration.” 

Speaker schedule:

Session 1: 8:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. - morning speakers session 

1:15 p.m. - Performance by Navajo Performer and Educator Dennis Rogers

Session 2: 2:15 - 6 p.m. - afternoon speakers session

Speaker sessions take place at Hudson Community Center

Speakers List:

• Tips on Bird Photography, Dave Rintoul, Ph.D. Biologist, birdwatcher, and photographer 

• The Personal Prairie, John Price, Professor of English, UNO  (virtual) 

• The Beauty and Mystery of Wetlands, Dave Haukos, PhD; Kansas State University 

• Wetland Ecology: How Plants Cope with the Unique Conditions of Wetland Soils, Irene Unger, Ph.D., Baker University 

• Tips on Using Binoculars, Jackie Augustine, Ph.D. AOK Executive Director 

• Performance: Native American Dance, Dennis Rogers, Native American Performer and Educator


Self-guided tour Schedule:

All tours start with orientation at Hudson Community Center

Friday afternoon, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. - dark

Saturday morning, Nov. 6, starting at 6 a.m. 

Saturday afternoon, Nov. 6, 2 p.m. - dark

Quivira National Wlidlife Refuge (QNWR) encompasses 22,135 acres and lies mostly in Stafford County, southeast of Great Bend. It is a Wetland of International Importance and provides sanctuary to a wide variety of waterfowl, shore birds and other wetland species, several of them listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The refuge annually attracts thousands of bird watchers, hunters and other recreation seekers.

More information about the event as well as registration, is available on the Audubon of Kansas website,