County Seat: Osborne
County Size: 892 square miles
County Checklist: 230 species
DeLorme Pages 20, 21, 33 & 34
Google Maps of Osborne County
Best Birds: Magnificent Frigatebird, Golden-winged Warbler, Common Redpoll
Osborne County is located in north central Kansas. The main east-west highway is highway 24, but K-18 crosses the southwest part of the county. Highway 281 crosses north to south through the county and highway 181 cuts across the NE corner of the county. The South Fork of the Solomon River bisects the county west to east. The North Fork of the Solomon River enters the county near Portis and exits east of Downs. In addition, creeks provide narrow riparian corridors throughout the county. Some of the best in terms of bird habitat and access are Covert, Kill, Medicine, Paradise, and Crooked.
The county has a nice mix of tilled land and native grasslands. Enough native grass remains to support a good population of Greater Prairie Chickens. During lekking season, listening at any stop in the area between Osborne and Covert could allow a birder to hear them calling.
Osborne County website http://www.discoverosborne.com
1. Glen Elder Wildlife Area - The upper end of the Glen Elder Wildlife area extends into Osborne County. The majority is on the North Fork Solomon River, but there is also a small area on the South Fork. Depending on the lake level, this may include considerable amounts of water. All of this area flooded during the high water of 1993, so very little mature timber remains. Most of the Osborne County portion is located on the North Fork Solomon River from Downs east to the county line. Bald Eagles have nested along the river between the two Osborne County access roads. Birding opportunities may vary widely in these areas. Since the area is managed for wildlife, there is generally plenty of cover and food – particularly for wintering sparrows. Both roads may be closed for certain seasons, but foot access is always open. Roads are impassible when wet. The county line road goes about 1 mile south, then turns west to provide access to the river. At the river, the eagle nest may be visible by looking straight west. This overlook can also be very good for wading and shore birds. If you enter by the west access point, the road turns west and parallels the river for about ½ mile. There are several spots where the river or river bottom habitat can be viewed from above. These same areas may be accessed by foot from W 60th Dr. on the south side of the river. Some timber in this area survived the 1993 flood and could be good for migrating passerines. Directions: From Downs, travel east on highway 24. Turn south on either of two access roads. The first is approximately 1.5 miles east of Downs. It may show up as S 10th Avenue, CR 691, or Dispatch Road, depending on your source of information. The second is the county line road which may be labeled as S 1st Avenue. To access the south portion, travel south out of Downs 4 miles on highway 181. Turn east on W 90th Drive and travel straight east until you see Wildlife Area signs on the south side of the road. Access is on foot. DeLorme: 34, A1; 34, B1
2. Shooting Range - The shooting range is on public land and open for public use. A small marshy area has produced some good birds. Directions: To access the shooting range, drive south from Downs on highway 181. Turn east at the sign. This is north of W 60th Dr. Delorme: 34, A1
3. Downs Sewer Ponds - These ponds are easily observable from the Downs tree burn site. Waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds have all used these ponds. Directions: To access the Downs sewer ponds, drive south from Downs on highway 181. Turn east on the first county road – W 60th Dr. (about one mile). The entrance to the burn site is visible on the north side of the road about 3/8 of a mile from the highway. Delorme: 34, A1
4. Farm Ponds - Osborne County has numerous farm ponds – all are on private land. Some of the best are visible from highway 281 north and south of Osborne. Directions: Follow Highway 281 north and south of Osborne. Most are within three miles north or south of town. Others are listed as coordinates. Coordinates: N 39° 28' 45.36", W 98° 37' 8.52”; N 39° 29', W 98° 43'; N 39° 22', W 98° 31'; N 39° 13', W 98° 31'. DeLorme: 33, 9-10A-C
5. Solomon River - There is little public access to the river, but a number of county roads cross the river and can provide access to bird from the county right-of-way. Directions: DeLorme: 33, 9-10A-C
6. Osborne River Walk - This area was developed by the boy Scouts. It provides foot access to nice riparian areas along the South fork Solomon River. Directions: Follow Osborne Main Street to the west end. Continue on toward golf course. Instead of turning left at the golf course, take the rock road to end. From here, access paths along the river for about ¾ of a mile. Delorme: 33, B9
7. Covert Area - I call this area the Osborne County Wilderness. Do not attempt to access this area unless it has been dry for quite a while and/or you have 4WD. It is a fairly remote area with some timber and a fairly large area of Eastern Red Cedars. After finding the coordinates given, continue on south. At the T, turn east to find more thick timber. Directions: From Osborne drive 6 miles south on highway 281. Turn west on CR 404. After about 8 miles and approximately four corners, turn left on 160th Avenue. This entire area is sparsely populated and just fun to explore. Coordinates: N 39° 16’ W 98° 47' DeLorme: 33, D9.
8. Alton Bluffs - From Alton, travel south across the river. When the road T’s, turn east. Common Poorwill can be heard calling in this area. Directions: Take the Alton exit from highway 24 and travel south through town. DeLorme: 33, A7
9. Urban Areas - Population centers of Osborne County are Osborne, Downs, Natoma, Portis, and Alton. All are small towns, but have mature trees, feeders, and the potential for a good bird. Directions: From east to west on Highway 24: Downs, Osborne, and Alton. Portis is on highway 281 in the NE part of the county. Natoma is on highway K-18 in the SW portion of the county.
Updated November 2012
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