County Seat: Sublette
County Size: 577 squre miles
County Checklist: 233 species
DeLorme pages: 55, 56, 68 & 69
Google Map of Haskell County
Best Birds: Six hummingbird species (Ruby-throated, Black-chinned, Annaís, Broad-tailed, Rufous and Calliope), Hammondís & Cordilleran Flycatchers, Stellerís Jay, Western Scrub-Jay, Violet-green Swallow, Bohemian Waxwing, Veery, Red Crossbill
Haskell County is located in southwest Kansas, under an hour to the southwest of Dodge City, approximately half-hour north of Liberal and a half-hour south of Garden City. Itís on the way to several traditional birding areas of southwest Kansas, but not usually the destination. U.S 56 Highway cuts a transect from northeast to southwest through Sublette and Satanta, on the way to Hugoton in Stevens Co, and Elkhart and the Cimarron National Grasslands in Morton Co. U. S. 83 Highway bisects the county in the middle, as the main north-south road from Garden City to Liberal. There are sand hill regions in the north part of the county, north of U.S. 160 Highway that could be explored for bird species utilizing that habitat type. Lesser Prairie Chickens and Scaled Quail have been found in adjacent Finney Co. to the north and might be expected in northwest Haskell Co. as well.
1. Cimarron River Ė the river crosses into Haskell County in the extreme southwest corner, south of Satanta. The sand hills in this area have held Lesser Prairie Chickens and Scaled Quail in the past, but oil and gas exploration has disturbed much of the available habitat. Other birds in the area include Western Kingbird, Sayís Phoebe, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Lark & Cassinís Sparrows, and Lark Bunting. Access is pretty limited, with better access by county road to the south in Seward County or to the west in Stevens County.
2. Playa lakes Ė the county has some playas that can hold waterfowl and shorebirds during both spring and fall migration. Larger ones are shown in the DeLorme: page 68 & 69, but many other, smaller ones can be found when driving the countryside. These are highly dependent on weather conditions, with most dry during all but the wettest years. Some irrigation tail-water pits are available for birds to utilize, but with the popularity of center pivot irrigation, these are few and far in between.
3. County roads Ė Haskell County can have some productive birding accomplished by driving county roads. During fall and winter months, raptors are usually abundant, with a good mix of Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, Prairie Falcons, and an occasional Merlin or Golden Eagle possible. Agriculture fields make up most of the land adjacent to roads, providing habitat for Horned Larks, longspurs and occasionally waterfowl and sparrows.
4. Towns Ė Sublette and Satanta are the only towns in the county, making for somewhat limited birding opportunities. Most of the decent passerine bird records have come from one or the other by residents or by pass-through of birders on county listing trips. The neighborhood around Santee and Mohawk Streets has produced most of the hummingbird records (6 species) and also hosted several other rarities for the county (Cordilleran Flycatcher, Stellerís and W. Scrub Jay, Bohemian Waxwing). Similar neighborhoods could also exist in Sublette, but that needs to be explored.
Haskell County is somewhat under-birded and probably could have quite a few more passerine bird species added to its list if birders are there in prime migration. It has little available surface water, but a couple of locations near Satanta have provided a few waterfowl and shorebird species of interest. The Satanta sewer ponds, along U.S. 56 Highway heading southwest from town, can be seen with a spotting scope from the road. There are also a couple of small ponds on the Cimarron Valley Golf Course, to the southwest from there. Some of the gull, heron and pelican records from the county came from these ponds. Satanta Feeders has waste water ponds on the south side of it that have had good numbers of dabbling ducks in the past as well, including Cinnamon Teal. Hopefully, with more folks interested in county listing, the Haskell County list will continue to grow and a few more rarities donít evade detection.
Updated February 2013 - MR
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