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Fall migration begins
hoi kl marshmusing
Pictured above are a male and female wood duck, a common inhabitant of wetlands during migration. A wide array of waterfowl will be migrating through Cheyenne Bottoms in great numbers this fall. - photo by ERIC GIESING

Welcome to the 5th edition of Marsh Musings. This week we are trying something a little different. Instead of me writing the article, Dr. Witt has written the following piece. Enjoy!!

Bird migration is the signature event at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Twice a year, over five million birds fly across the United States in flocks numbering up to the thousands. The major stimulus for the migration is not related to changing cold or warm weather. The stimulus is instead primarily based on food requirements. Birds need a safe environment and a bountiful food source. When the weather changes and food sources disappear, birds are forced to go in search of new supplies. Reproduction also requires the presence of an adequate food source so the parents are not stressed to survive and feed their offspring.

The fall migration has already begun and is an exciting event for all of us. Our waterfowl hunters have an early teal season, and we are blessed with excellent hunting seasons and bag limits. Our tables are well stocked for traditional meals as a result from great hunters passing their skills and love of the land and birds to their children and friends. Pheasant and quail seasons also provide wonderful cuisine. Hunters are sometimes given negative stigmas, but they provide the majority of funds for habitat creation, preservation, and the support of the departments that protect and manage our wildlife. In fact, we would encourage all wildlife enthusiasts to buy a duck stamp as the money goes to support habitat restoration and other great projects for game and non-game species!

In addition to hunters, our birding friends are also a vital part of the Bottoms. Bird enthusiasts can see most of the shore birds that migrate across the United States right here in our own backyard at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira. In addition to shorebirds, you can see raptors and watch the food chain in action as they hunt their prey. We also get the magnificent whooping cranes that pass through our area and grace the wetlands most years.

Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge are special places in the lives of millions of birds and vital for their survival. In addition, these special places draw in visitors from around the world to our area, and the KWEC has a list…. and it is quite impressive. They are also unique in the way that hunting and birding communities join forces and efforts to preserve and protect the land, water and birds for future generations to enjoy. We are very fortunate to live this close to these world-class marshes. This fall migration is well under way and there are new birds arriving daily. Go muse in the marsh with Eric and me and share the magic that is there every day.


Dr. Dan Witt is a semi-retired local doctor and wildlife photographer and Eric Giesing is director of education and a biologist at the KWEC.