County Seat: Hiawatha
County Size: 572 square miles
County Checklist: 272 species
DeLorme pages: 25 & 26
Google Maps of Brown County
Best Birds: Brown Pelican, Swallow-tailed Kite
Brown County is located in northeast Kansas in the glaciated physiographic region, on the Nebraska border and just one county away from the Missouri River. The deep soils are very fertile and while much of the land is under cultivation, there are still enough pockets of tall grass prairie and hardwood timber to give excellent diversity for birds. Its proximity to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Missouri means that there can be large flocks of wintering waterfowl foraging in the crop fields during migration and winter. Three public water impoundments also provide great opportunity for both waterfowl and shorebirds.
Mission Lake - On the northeast side of Horton is the city owned Mission Lake. Roads are found on both the east and west sides of the lake. On the east side there are also private residences so respect their privacy and be careful not to block the road. This lake can be very good for both waterfowl and gulls in spring and fall. Because of it's construction it does not have very much for accessible mud flat areas so shorebirds can be limited to the very northwest part of the lake. Yates Avenue, which goes on the east side of the lake, goes through some nice wooded areas before getting to the housing area. These areas are worth investigating.
Pony Creek Lake - Located along US Highway 75 about two miles north of Sabetha is Pony Creek Lake which serves as a water supply source for the city of Sabetha. The south end of the lake has fairly typical shallow water and depending on the water level can produce excellent mud flats for shorebirds. The entrance to this part of the lake is right along US-75; look out for heavy traffic at times. the entrance road goes straight to the water and ends. Park here and walk south along the shore. In about 1,000 feet you'll start to reach the area where small streams feed the lake. There are good stands of shrubs and trees here that can be good for passerines. Back at the entrance road there is a road that turns north that goes through some primitive camping areas and offers good views of the central part of the lake. Getting back on US75 travel north a little over 3/4 of a mile and turn east on 305 Road. In 1/4 of a mile there's an entrance road to take you to the dam area and the north end of the lake. These grass fields have held Bobolinks long enough into the breeding season to indicate probable breeding. The grassy areas to the north - northeast of the dam can hold Le Conte's Sparrows in the fall. If you continue on east on 305th Road to where it intersects with Antelope Road there is good roadside timber here that is worth stopping and spending some time to investigate.
Brown State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area - About 8.5 miles east of Hiawatha on US-36 is Brown State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area. Parts of the wildlife area may be closed seasonally. Exit off US-36 on Timber Road. On the north side of US-36 is 230th Street that will go back east about 1/2 mile to the entrance to the state lake. Thee are also two access roads from the north off of 240th Street. The east side of the lake offers some nice timber areas that can hold warblers and vireos in migration. The dam area on the south end of the lake has some nice tall grass prairie remnants with appropriate bird species present.
Sac and Fox Casino Wetlands - Sac and Fox Casino is on US-75 in the southwest corner of the county. The casino has constructed wetlands to the southeast of the casino complex. They are accessible with a grassed parking area from 130th Street. It is recommended that you check in with the security guards at the casino entrance before going there. These wetland cells can hold excellent shorebirds in migration and should be checked out on virtually any birding trip to the area.
Roadside Park, Kickapoo Tribe Land - One mile west of the Golden Eagle Casino, along highway K-20 is a roadside park area between Foxtail Road and the Delaware River. This well timbered park area is worth a stop at any season to look for timber and riparian species.
Backroads - There are plenty of good backroads in Brown County that are worth your time. Stop and check out stands of wild plum and dogwood especially in migration as they can hold a lot of migrant sparrows.
Updated April 2016 - CO
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