Sedgwick County

County Seat: Wichita

County Size: 1008 square miles

County Checklist: 383 species

DeLorme pages 61, 62, 74, & 75


Google Maps of Sedgwick County


Best Birds: Tufted Duck (1996), Yellow-billed Loon (1996), Brown Pelican (1994), Black Vulture (2004), Gray Hawk (2005), Gyrfalcon (2000), Black-headed Gull (1994), Glaucous-winged Gull (1998), MacGillivray’s Warbler (several records), Swainson’s Warbler (1996), Black-throated Sparrow (1979, 1998), Pyrrhuloxia (1994), Lesser Goldfinch (2004 & 2005)


Sedgwick County is one of the most populous counties in the state. Despite the fact that most of the county’ land area is composed of cropland and urban areas, it currently has the lengthiest species checklist of any county in the state.  This is primarily due to the contributions of the numerous birders who have lived here over the years.   Records of local bird sightings span a period of well over a century.  Another contributing factor is presence of a good diversity of habitats in the county.  The riparian woodland along the Arkansas, Little Arkansas and Ninnescah Rivers attracts many eastern woodland species, several of which reach the western extremity of their breeding range.  Cheney Reservoir lies partly within the county and has produced many rare species.  Large sandpits in the Wichita area attract waterfowl and gulls.  In the northwest quadrant of the county are a number of wetland areas that are productive shorebirding locations.  There have been a number of vagrant species recorded in Sedgwick County, especially from the west.  For those with a special interest in the Sedgwick County area, a book is available from the Kansas Ornithological Society The Birds of Sedgwick County and Cheney Reservoir. 


1) Chisholm Creek Park - This park consists of 240 acres of natural habitat, surrounded on all sides by developed areas.  Despite a high volume of visitors, and considerable highway noise, this park is one of the best birding locations in Wichita.  The Great Plains Nature Center, located at 6232 E. 29th Street North, provides access to the east end of the park, and has excellent interpretive exhibits relating to Kansas wildlife.  There are also parking lots on the west end of the park, reached by traveling south from Highway 96 on Oliver Street for ¼ mile.  There are prominent signs at both the east and west entrances.  An extensive system of paved trails in the park begins at the parking areas.  The varied habitats in the park include tallgrass prairie, riparian woodlands, hedgerows, ponds, and a wetland area.  Aggressive control of invasive red cedar has assured the health of the prairies, unlike some other Wichita parks which are now given over almost entirely to silent stands of cedars.  The park is an excellent place to find migrants in both spring and fall.   Over 200 species of birds have been seen in the park, including 28 species of warblers (including Cape May, Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Bay-breasted, MacGillivray’s, Hooded, Yellow-throated and even one record of Swainson’s) and 20 species of sparrows.   There is a boardwalk over the wetland area which is an excellent place to look for elusive wetland birds such as Sora, Virginia Rail, Least Bittern, and Marsh Wren.  The woods along the creek are usually productive for birding.  In the fall, the extensive thickets of dogwood flanking most of the creek and elsewhere in the park are very attractive to a variety of migratory warblers, vireos and other songbirds.  Nashville Warblers are especially common in these thickets in September and early October.  In general seeking warblers in the fall is far more productive at Chisholm Creek than at Oak Park, as there are more insects and berries present at Chisholm Creek in the fall.  LeConte’s Sparrows and Sedge Wrens are often found in the moister grasslands in October.  There is a good variety of breeding species in the park including Cooper’s Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Bell’s Vireo, Indigo Bunting (very common in summer) and Blue Grosbeak.  A portion of the park lies north of Highway 96, and has a fairly large pond which has recorded a variety of waterfowl, herons and gulls over the years, including notables such as White-winged Scoter and Glaucous Gull.  Besides the warblers mentioned above, some of the wilder finds at the park have been Common Poorwill, Yellow Rail, Northern Goshawk and Henslow’s Sparrow.
DeLorme: 62, H1


2) Maple Grove Cemetery - This Wichita cemetery is nearly as old as the city itself, and has some of the largest coniferous trees to be found in the area.  This is an outstanding birding spot, especially during migration and the winter months.  The cemetery is on Hillside Avenue, four blocks south of the intersection of Hillside and 13th Street North.  The entrance is on the east side of the street, just north of the stoplight for 9th Street.  Birds tend to form mixed-species foraging flocks which wander through the pines and cedars in the cemetery.  Once you find such a flock it should be checked carefully for unusual birds.  The creek that runs along the edge of the cemetery has extensive brush along it, where interesting birds have often been found.  The cemetery has produced many rare birds over the years, including Northern Saw-whet Owl, Sage Thrasher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Tanager, and Black-throated Sparrow.  It is the most reliable place in Wichita to find Townsend’s Solitaire during the winter.  During invasion years, species such as Red-breasted Nuthatch and Red Crossbill are often seen.  Many of the rare bird sightings at the cemetery have occurred in the fall, most often in the month of September.
DeLorme: 62, H1


3) Hellar’s Park - This little park in north Wichita is a pleasant mixture of grasslands and brushy areas.  To reach the park, go north on Arkansas Avenue from 37th Street, for six blocks to the Earhart Elementary School, which is on the west side of the street.  Park in the school parking lot and follow the trail which begins there.  The trail winds through the prairie and eventually returns to the school parking lot.  Near the terminus of the trail the levee of the Little Arkansas River can be seen.   There is a trail on top of the levee which is used mostly by horse and motorcycle riders.  Walking along this levee can be very productive birding during migration and in winter, as many birds are found in the trees and weedy areas along the river banks.  When you get back to the school parking lot, you should also check the conifer plantings that lie just to the north of the school.  Although some of this little spot was destroyed to make room for the new school building in 2007, it still has many berry bushes and vines which attract an excellent variety of birds, especially in the winter. This park has only been “discovered” by birders recently, so the bird life there is not as well-documented as it is in some other area parks.  DeLorme: 62, H1


4) Heron Rookery - A large heron rookery has been present somewhere in Wichita since 1982, but the rookery has relocated several times.   Currently the rookery is located in northwest Wichita in a grove of trees at the corner of 13th Street North and Curtis Street, which has been used for the past eight years.  This site has been developed for new housing steadily over the past few years, and may eventually be abandoned.  Breeding species are Great, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and Black-crowned Night-herons.  Up to 1700 pairs of birds have been present in some years.  The rookery is located on private property, but may easily be viewed from the adjacent streets.  At dawn there is a large flight of birds out of the rookery, and at dusk there is a similar return flight.  Birds are present from early April through early October.  DeLorme: 62, H1


5) Oak and North Riverside Parks - These two small parks preserve the oldest mature hardwood forest in Wichita.  The site was an isolated stand of oak forest surrounded by prairies when J.R. Mead first described the Arkansas River Valley in the 1860’s, and has survived to the present day.  This park has long been known as the best single place to find migratory songbirds in the area.  Local birders know every nook and cranny of the park, and on mornings in early May many of them make a morning walk in the woods part of their routine.  The park is located north of downtown Wichita in the Riverside neighborhood.  From the corner of 13th Street North and Waco St., go south two blocks to 11th Street, then proceed eight blocks west to the park.  North Riverside Park is south of the street, and even though it is regularly mowed, the mature oaks there attract many birds. Oak Park is the woodland area north of 11th Street.  Park here and explore the woods using the network of footpaths.  There have been 35 species of warblers seen in the park, mostly in the first two weeks of May.  These have included multiple records of warbler species which are rare anywhere in Kansas, including Black-throated Blue, Cerulean, Connecticut and MacGillivray’s.  As strange as it may seem, Oak Park probably has produced more records of Worm-eating Warbler than any other location in the entire state and is recorded almost annually.  All of the eastern empidonax flycatchers have been recorded.  Vireos are also numerous and the “good ones” like White-eyed, Yellow-throated and Philadelphia should be looked for in early May.  Summer Tanager is annual in spring and Scarlet Tanager is seen in most years.  Most of these species can also be seen during the fall migration, but in much smaller numbers and over a much more extended period of time.  Besides the warblers for which it is most famous, some of other finds at Oak Park have been Veery, Lazuli Bunting (nearly annual), Black-headed Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Plumbeous Vireo (Sept. 2001) and Western Tanager (May, 1980). In summer and winter you can expect typical woodland bird species of the eastern forests.  In recent years a pair of Cooper’s Hawks has successfully nested in the park.  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron has nested several times and can often be seen foraging along the river’s edge adjacent to the park, especially around the 11th St. bridge. There is a disc golf course in the park and there have been a handful of mildly negative incidents between birders and disc golfers.  Be sensitive to this situation.  With consideration and restraint these two hobbies should be able to co-exist in Oak Park. 
DeLorme: 62, H1


6) Sim Park - This park is located in the central museum district, and is adjacent to Botanica, Cowtown Museum, and the Sim Golf Course.  A broad swath of open woodlands and thickets extends for almost a mile between the golf course and the Arkansas River.   Even though Oak Park is less than a mile away, the habitat is different here, and consequently so are the birds.  To reach this park from Oak Park, continue west on 11th Street to Amidon Street, then go south on Amidon until you reach the entrance to Botanica.  You can park at Botanica, or continue further south to the parking lot at Cowtown, or go west along the river, to any of the several parking lots along the park drive.  There are trails throughout the woods.  The brushy and wooded areas are on stabilized sand dunes, so the overall look of this park is a bit more rolling than in most parts of Wichita.  During migration an excellent variety of birds can be found.  Along Amidon Street on the east edge of the park is a large stand of pine trees.  During invasion winters, good numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches, Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins and other species are found in these pines.  Some of the notable birds which have been found in Sim Park over the years include Long-eared Owl, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch (flock of ten spent several weeks in winter of 1963!), and a good variety of warbler species.
DeLorme: 62, H1


7) Arkansas River -  Despite the determination of the City of Wichita to mow the entire length of the Arkansas River to the ground, eliminating any habitat for terrestrial species, there are several places along the Arkansas River in Wichita where birding can be productive at times.  The best location is probably the mile or so below the Lincoln Street Dam, south of downtown Wichita. In the summer many egrets forage here, and in the winter they are replaced by large numbers of gulls and waterfowl.  Some rare species which have been observed include Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Glaucous, Thayer’s, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Also be sure to check the confluence of the Little Arkansas and Arkansas Rivers at the Keeper of the Plains monument in the downtown area.  This is most easily viewed from the parking lot of Exploration Place at 330 N. Maclean Blvd.  When most of the river is frozen in the winter, gulls and diving ducks congregate below the spillway.  Another stretch of the river that is worth checking lies just to the west of the Amidon Street bridge in northern Wichita.  The river is usually very shallow here, and the sandbars attract herons, shorebirds and gulls depending on the season.  Two Tri-colored Herons were present here for several weeks in August and September of 2003.  From November-March Bald Eagles roam up and down the river and have become quite accustomed to humans, allowing close approach.
DeLorme: 62, H1 & I1


8) Twin Lakes - This is just adjacent to the Amidon Street bridge mentioned above.  The Twin Lakes shopping mall is at the southeast corner of 21st Street North and Amidon Street in northern Wichita.  On the south side of the mall is a lake with a small island, where a good variety of waterfowl can be found in migration and in winter.  The entire lake is easily viewed from the adjacent parking lot.  The island is a favored roosting place for large flocks of Double-crested Cormorants in early spring, and has begun to be used by a small colony of nesting herons and egrets, especially Great Egrets.   Rare waterfowl such as American Black Duck, White-winged Scoter, and Barrow’s Goldeneye have been observed at this lake in fall and winter.
DeLorme: 62, H1


9) Sedgwick County Park - This is a very large park, located just to the west of the Sedgwick County Zoo.  Much of the park consists of extensive mowed areas, but there are also significant areas of native habitat.  There are entrances at each end of the park, on 21st Street North and 13th Street North, about ¼ mile east of Ridge Road.  The park drive goes past a series of ponds, where an excellent variety of waterfowl, wading birds and songbirds can be seen, depending on the season.  There is a paved loop trail which follows the perimeter of the entire park, and which passes through an extensive stand of prairie and some productive edge habitats.  The best area for birding is along the trail that is on the west bank of Big Slough Creek at the western edge of the park.  There are extensive stands of cattail along the creek, which usually have Black-crowned Night-herons, egrets, and Common Yellowthroats in the summer months.  In the winter this is a good place to look for species such as Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, and Swamp Sparrow.  Along the west bank of the creek, the brushy areas along the path usually have a good variety of birds, especially sparrows.  A large grove of redbud and elm trees near the north end of the park had a colony of about 10 pairs of Green Herons for a number of years.  This park is one of the most reliable Wichita locations for Osprey in April and October.  Among the over 150 species of birds recorded in the park have been 23 species of waterfowl including Long-tailed Duck, and White-winged Scoter.   The many large cottonwoods throughout the park attract good numbers of nesting Warbling Vireos and Baltimore Orioles
DeLorme: 62, H1


10) LaFarge Sandpit - At the corner of 29th Street North and West Street in Wichita is an extensive sandpit that extends almost all the way to 37th Street North and over ¼ mile to the west.  It is owned by the LaFarge Company (formerly Ritchie Sand).  This large and deep body of water has produced an amazing array of rare birds.  It is the best place in the immediate vicinity of Wichita to view waterfowl and other aquatic species of birds.  From the West Street exit on Highway K-96, go 1.5 miles south to the intersection with 29th Street.  Go west on 29th and park anywhere you can see a good portion of the lake.  The lake is fenced and posted, and a good spotting scope is needed to identify birds that are on the far side of the lake.  It seems inevitable that someday it will be developed into a suburban neighborhood with houses and manicured lawns, but for now it remains a unique refuge for wildlife in Wichita.  In the summer months, the lake is usually devoid of birds, but from October through May this lake attracts a wide variety of species, often in large numbers.  Significant numbers of waterfowl and gulls remain in winter as long as water remains open.  The best time to bird this lake is the hour before dusk, when waterfowl and gulls return to the lake for the night after foraging elsewhere during the day.  Because the water is so deep in this lake, it remains open when all other bodies of water in the area have frozen, including Cheney.   When this is the case, the birding here can be very exciting, as aquatic species are attracted to the only open water in the area.  Some of the most notable finds at the lake have been Pacific Loon, Clark’s Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scoter, Whimbrel, Long-billed Curlew, Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Sabine’s Gull.  In addition to the water birds, the brushy areas along 29th Street attract many birds in winter and migration, especially a variety of sparrows.  Bell’s Vireos are usually present in the summer months in these thickets.
DeLorme: 62, H1


11) Swanson Park - This park in west Wichita is another of the Wichita Wild parks.  The entrance to the park is on Maize Road, two blocks south of the intersection of 13th Street North and Maize Road.  The park has paved trails similar to those found at Chisholm Creek Park.  Cowskin Creek flows through the park and has extensive woodlands along the banks.  The upland areas were once prairie, but plant succession eliminated most of the grasslands in the absence of fire, grazing or mowing.  Now large thickets of dogwood, cedar and other woody species dominate.  This place is not visited by birders as much as some of the other Wichita parks, but there have been good finds in the past, including a number of warbler species.  Loggerhead Shrikes used to nest here but most of their nesting habitat has been choked out by invasive red cedar trees.  A Short-eared Owl was found here in December, 2007 during the CBC.
DeLorme: 62, H1


12) Pawnee Prairie Park - This 640 acre park includes 1.5 miles of riparian woodland, extensive grasslands, and some old shelterbelts that were planted when it was farmland.  As with Swanson Park, plant succession has transformed many of the grassland areas into upland woods over the past twenty years.  This includes a vast area of cedars which have eliminated almost all other plant life, so a lot of the park just ain’t what it used to be, and the “prairie” is getting pretty hard to find these days.  To reach the park, travel south on Tyler Road from the exit on Kellogg (U.S. 54) for 1.5 miles to a large parking lot south of the public golf course.  There are restrooms and a trailhead at the parking lot.  From here you can begin to explore the miles of trails.  Usually the most productive birding is on the trails that are closest to the creek, but interesting birds can be seen anywhere here.  The woods along the creek have matured enough that a number of Red-eyed Vireos can be found throughout the summer, and other birds of the eastern woodlands have been seen here in summer, including Pileated Woodpecker and Wood Thrush.  Some of the most interesting birds found at this park in the past have been Common Poorwill, Whip-poor-will, Rock Wren, and Green-tailed Towhee, in addition to a number of other migratory passerine species.  Yellow-breasted Chat may have nested here in the past but nests or other evidence of breeding were not obtained.
DeLorme: 62, I1


13) Lake Afton - At 230 surface acres, this is the largest body of water in Sedgwick County other than Cheney Reservoir.  This is an excellent location for waterfowl, gulls, shorebirds and other species.  To reach the lake from the junction of Interstate 235 and Highway K-42, take K-42 west for four miles to the little community of Schulte.  Turn right at the traffic light there and proceed west on MacArthur Road for eight miles, where you will see the lake on both sides of the road.  The main body of the lake on the south side of MacArthur is encircled by a road, which makes bird viewing very convenient.   A drive around the lake brings you within binocular range of any birds that are on the water.  Gulls often congregate near the dam spillway, and shorebirds can be found in the spillway during migration.  On the north side of MacArthur is a much shallower portion of the lake with large areas of cattails and other wetland vegetation, which in turn is bordered by woodland habitat.  There is a short nature trail through this area, which is worth checking.  To the east of the nature trail area are additional portions of the lake.  There are a number of cedar trees around the lake, and these attract large numbers of robins and waxwings when the berry crop has been good.  In some years flocks of Mountain Bluebirds are found in these cedars as well.   There have been fall sightings of apparent social groups of Merlins around the lake.  Bonaparte’s Gulls are probably seen here more regularly and in greater numbers than at any other location in the county.  Some of the rare birds which have been reported from Lake Afton are Neotropic Cormorant, Red-throated Loon, Tufted Duck, Snowy Plover, Mew Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, and Northern Shrike. 
DeLorme: 61, I8


14) Mt. Hope Marsh - This marsh is the largest remaining wetland in the county.  It covers several hundred acres, but even at that it is only a small remnant of the once extensive complex of wetlands which once extended from here to the McPherson wetlands which lie approximately 40 miles to the north.  Most of these wetlands have been drained and have disappeared from memory, but a few unique fragments remain.  Several similar remnant wetlands are found in adjacent areas of Harvey County.  To reach the marsh from Wichita, take Highway K-96 west from Wichita for about 17 miles to the intersection with 93rd Street north.  Turn left onto 93rd and proceed about ¼ mile.  The marsh is on both sides of the road for about the next ½ mile.  Most portions of the marsh are on private land and therefore are inaccessible, but a good portion of the area can be viewed from this county road which bisects the marsh.  The marsh is choked with cattails, sedges, water lotus, smartweed and other wetland plants, which can make birding difficult and frustrating.  However, the patient observer is often rewarded with interesting birds.  This marsh is an important staging area for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. In early spring, impressive flocks of Snow and White-fronted Geese, Northern Pintails, Mallards, and other waterfowl are often observed here.  Most shorebird sightings come in the spring when tilled fields close to the wetland become flooded, creating muddy flats for them to feed on.  These flooded fields attract an excellent variety and number of shorebirds.  Many species have been seen here which are difficult or impossible to find anywhere else in the county.  Significant nesting species include Least Bittern and Yellow-headed Blackbird.  American Bittern, White-faced Ibis, Sora, Virginia Rail, Sedge and Marsh Wrens and other wetland species are annual in migration.  Many rarities have been seen here, including Cinnamon Teal, King Rail, Common Moorhen, Mountain Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, and Red-necked Phalarope. 
DeLorme: 61, F9


15) Colwich Wetlands and Sod Farms - Around the town of Colwich are several ephemeral wetland areas which often produce good birding.   Water conditions are quite variable from year to year due to fluctuations in rainfall amounts and changes in land use.   All of these areas are on private land and birding is consequently limited to viewing them from public roads.  Southeast of Colwich at the corner of 151st Street West and 37th Street north is a small fragment of wet prairie where Upland Sandpipers can be found in summer, and where Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and Bobolinks have been observed.  Just to the south of this tract of grassland is a cultivated field that becomes flooded after heavy rain.   In both spring and fall when this area is flooded or muddy, good numbers of shorebirds are often found in this field.  After checking the field, go north on 151st Street for 1 mile to 53rd Street, passing a large cattail marsh on the west side of the road.  This marsh is on land owned by the KG&E power plant just to the north.  This small marsh has produced a variety of waterfowl and marsh birds.  When you reach 53rd Street, go one mile west to Colwich and then proceed north on 167th Street West for 1.5 miles.   Here you will see a pasture with about 20 acres of marsh and shallow water.  This is another spot which has produced many shorebird species and other wetland birds.  The large stands of cattails often have a colony of breeding Great-tailed Grackles and/or Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  Most of the three square miles of land that lie to the west of 167th Street north of Colwich are owned by a large sod farm operation.  During migration these sod fields attract Upland Sandpipers, Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, and several other shorebird species.  In early August as many as 350 Buff-breasted Sandpipers have been observed on these fields.
DeLorme: 61, G9


16) Cheney Reservoir - This large reservoir is formed by a large dam on the North Fork of the Ninnescah River, and was constructed in 1964.  It normally covers about 9,500 surface acres, and is surrounded by 5,240 acres of public wildlife area and 1,913 acres of state park.  The lake is a popular recreation resource and is very heavily used for boating, fishing, hunting, camping and picnicking, especially during the summer months.  Birding at the lake is best from fall through spring, when other users of the lake are not present in great numbers.  The relatively small portion of the lake which lies in Sedgwick County can be viewed from the top of the dam.  To reach Cheney dam, travel west on Highway US 54 to the Cheney exit, then go north for 5 miles to the intersection with 21st Street.  From this intersection, continue north for 1/2 mile to reach the entrance to the dam access parking lot.  Park by the gated and locked vehicle access ramp (the ramp is for official/maintenance vehicle use only), and walk up the ramp to view the reservoir from the top of the dam.   A spotting scope is required when trying to identify birds far out on the lake.  During fishing season it is a good idea to get here early in order to beat the many fishing boats which congregate near the dam to try for spawning walleye and other fish.  For the ardent county lister, Cheney presents a bit of a conundrum as the boundaries of Kingman, Reno and Sedgwick Counties meet at a point out in the lake about a mile west of the top of the vehicle ramp.  You can walk southwest on the dam as far as you like.  If you go over a mile in that direction then you’ll reach the Kingman Co. line but few folks walk that far.  Likewise if you go about ½ mile north along the top of the dam you will enter Reno County.  Sometimes shorebirds can be seen at the water’s edge at the base of the dam.  A small flock of Smith’s Longspurs was present on the grassy face of the dam in October, 2005.  When you return to your car it is worth checking the nearby stand of woodland along the entrance road.  Something interesting can often be found in this small stand of trees although no spine-tingling rarities have ever been found there.  The spillway used to be a good place to check for birds but due to security measures imposed in 2001 you can’t enter this area anymore.


Some of the many rare birds which have been seen on the Sedgwick Co. portion of the lake include Yellow-billed and Pacific Loons, Red-necked, Western, and Clark’s Grebes; Brown Pelican; Black-headed, Little, Laughing, Glaucous, and Thayer’s Gulls.  In October, concentrations of Franklin’s Gulls have been recorded in the hundreds of thousands of birds.  Large flocks of White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants and many species of waterfowl are often encountered. 

You’ll probably want to check the much more extensive and productive Kingman and Reno Co. areas at Cheney, but if you are heading back to town and feel like doing some birding on the way, then taking 29th St. all the way back to town can produce some good birding, especially for raptors during the winter months.  This is a dirt road with minimal traffic but is well-drained and so usually safe to take regardless of whether there has been rain or snow. 
DeLorme: 61, H7


17) Crane Park - Like Oak Park in Wichita, several parks in Derby preserve tracts of mature oak forest which predate European settlement of the area.  Crane Park has produced a number of interesting bird sightings, especially of rare warblers and other passerines during the month of May From the intersection of James and Woodlawn in Derby, proceed east on James for 2 blocks, and then turn right on Marguerite Parkway.  Crane Park will be on your right. This well-forested park has several trails which run along Dry Creek.  Focus your efforts on those areas of the park which are dominated by large oaks and elms, and the dense understory running along the creek.   At the north end of the park there is slight rise near the playground equipment that offers a good vantage point for views of the woodland canopy. Some of the many notable bird species which have been found here in the past include Plumbeous Vireo, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Black-throated Blue Warbler.  Summer and winter birds are typical of the area.

DeLorme: 75, A7


18) Riley Park – To reach this park from the intersection of Kay Street and Highway K-15 in Derby, go east on Kay Street for 3 blocks to reach the parking lot on the west side of the ball diamond.   Walk behind the ball field outside the fence. There are several trails running through the woodlands along the creek. This park is also an excellent location to find migratory passerines.   Riley Park is the southernmost of several adjacent parks which lie along Dry Creek, all of which have some well-forested areas, and extend north to Zollinger Park on Madison Avenue.

DeLorme: 75, A7


19) 71st Street Canoe Launch - The 71st Street Canoe Launch site is a surprising oasis in the Wichita area. The boat ramp is the reason for this park, but miles of hiking opportunities exist which traverse through riparian woodlands, river sandbars, and brushy areas. To reach the parking area from 63rd St S and Hydraulic, go east on 63rd a half mile and turn south onto Grove St. Continue to a stop sign at Cider St and proceed east as the road follows the Big Ditch. The road dead ends at the river, with a driveway and a sign marking the "canoe launch". The birding begins at the parking lot at the end of the driveway.


This location's checklist boasts species not easy to see elsewhere in the county and so close to Wichita. The main attractions here are resident Pileated Woodpeckers and nesting Fish Crows and Painted Buntings (May-August). Other summer species include Blue Grosbeak, Northern Parula, Chuck-wills-widow, White-eyed Vireo, and Summer Tanager (rare). Winter brings large numbers of sparrows to the brushy areas in addition to the typical woodland birds. Bald Eagles and Red-shouldered Hawks have nested nearby in recent years, and can be found by a lucky birder anytime of the year. Rarities seen here include Western Grebe, White-winged Dove, Golden-winged Warbler, Lazuli Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Purple Finch. 

There are two maintained trails; one north of the parking area and one south. Both can offer birding opportunities, especially the one to the south. These are usually quiet, but can hold migrant songbirds on a perfect day. You can also walk on the dike along the river both north and south for several miles. Be especially alert for birds in the plum thickets along the dikes, and listen for buntings singing from the edges of the woods and open trees. As one walks south for about a mile, you can follow the dike as it curves along the Big Ditch or continue along the river straight south onto dirt trails into the woods. White-eyed Vireos nest in these woods and other woodland species may be encountered on a hike all the way out to the convergence of the Arkansas River and Big Ditch. If you continue on the dike things begin to open up. A hike down to the water in the Big Ditch here is likely to produce waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders in season. The open manmade grassy areas attracted a Cassin's Sparrow in the invasion in 2011. Be aware that these hiking trails are all out and back walks and that this location is a popular place for off-road vehicles on weekend afternoons. 
DeLorme: 75, A7

Updated November 2012


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