County Seat: Holton
County Size: 658 square miles
County Checklist: 261 species
DeLorme pages 25, 26, 38 & 39
Google Maps of Jackson County
Jackson County, in northeastern Kansas, is in the glaciated physiographic region of the state. The gently rolling topography supports a mix of crop and livestock agriculture. Public access land is not abundant in the county but several areas do provide some surface water for waterfowl and public access into some good mixed habitat.
1. Banner Creek Reservoir – Just west of Holton, off of K-16 Highway is Banner Creek Reservoir. This water supply lake covers 535 acres and is a fairly young lake which means that much of the habitat is still developing. The main entrance gives you several good views of the main body of the lake which can hold substantial waterfowl in the fall. There is a $2 day use fee to access this location which also does have campgrounds. There are several other good birding locations around the lake and numerous hiking/biking trails. If you continue west on K-16 past the entrance to the main park area, Road N goes south. Just before Road N dead ends in the lake, turn west on 222nd Road. This road borders the north side of the reservoir property and everything south of the road is public access. Excellent wildlife plantings have been established in this area and are worth investigating. Turn south on M Road and in a few hundred feet you’ll find a parking space on the east side of the road and a walk through opening in the fence. This is the start of a trail that goes for over a mile and takes you through some good timber and excellent birding. If you continue south on M Road, you can turn east on 214 Road for one mile and then turn north on N Road. This road turns back east in a half mile, but there is a small parking lot and more access to trails and the upper end of the lake. All of these areas are good for passerine species, especially in migration. You can continue to work your way all around the lake with a few more access areas to the lake.
2. Holton Cemetery – On the south side of K-16, on the edge of Holton and before you get to Banner Creek Reservoir is the Holton Cemetery. This cemetery is worth a quick stop as it holds several large old evergreen trees. These trees are the best shot at getting species like Yellow-bellied Sapsucker or White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, in season.
3. Prairie Lake – Traveling north out of Holton 2.6 miles from the US77, K16 interchange (stoplight) you can turn east (right) on 246th Road. In 3 miles you’ll arrive at Prairie Lake, a small water supply lake of the city of Holton. The lake covers about 50 acres and is surrounded by public access land. There are several vantage points around the lake that allow you good view of the body of the lake. The access road takes you below the dam on the south side. Small wetland areas and timber in this area provide some of the best passerine birding at this location. Be sure to check any area that has good growth of sunflowers or other bird friendly plants as they often hold good numbers of sparrows.
4. Nebo State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area – Nebo State Lake is located about 10 miles west of Holton and 1 mile south of K-16 Highway. From the US77/K-16 interchange proceed east through downtown Holton and continue 9.6 miles east from the interchange. Turn south on Y Road and continue 1 mile to 222 Road then turn back west for ˝ mile to reach the lake. It is a small lake, about 40 surface acres, with another 25 acres of land associated with it. In this area, the county roads pass through numerous small stands of timber that allow for some good road birding.
Updated December 2012
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