October 9, 2014

Kansas City Birding Trail

The Kansas City Trail is divided into two portions: a Kansas City Metro Trail and a Greater Kansas City Area Trail. The Metro Trail highlights birding opportunities no more than 10 minutes from Kansas City's urban center. The Greater Kansas City Trail features birding sites that are in the Kansas City and northwestern Missouri area farther off the beaten path. Read more about these two Trails below. Birds can be found and enjoyed anywhere, both inside and outside the city!

Use the Google Map below to locate a birding site near you, or use the Index.

For help on how to use the Interactive Map, click here.

Index of Kansas City Sites

Greater Kansas City Trail

These sites are a bit outside of Kansas City proper, and some are off the beaten path. If you were to draw a line from the Missouri-Iowa border south to Chillicothe, down to Sedalia,Southwest to Clinton, and over to Nevada, you would have a rough outline of the Kansas City Trail region. While birding this fertile farmland, you will find large prairies, old fields, lakes, wetlands, riparian corridors, glades, and open woodland habitats. On any given day, you will locate Greater Prairie Chicken, Bobolink, Sedge Wren, Upland Sandpiper, and all the sparrows that call Missouri home. There are more ducks, geese, waders, and shorebirds in the area than just about anywhere in the state. These large, wide-open spaces make for excellent hawk habitat and on a rare occasion an errant Ferruginous Hawk will pass overhead. Bald Eagles are numerous, and on occasion you can also locate the beautiful Prairie Falcon and, with some persistence, both the Short and Long-eared Owls. Here you will find diverse birding locations like Four Rivers Conservation Area, Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Smithville Lake, Fountain Grove Conservation Area, Pershing State Park, Pawnee Prairie Natural Area, and Dunn Ranch.

Kansas City Metro Trail

In the early 1800s, Independence and St. Joseph were where “the West” began. Kansas City was a riverboat town and did not begin to grow until later when it became a major railhead and grain and livestock center. Today, historic communities dot the rolling hills and countryside where you can still see and feel the culture of an area that was once proclaimed a “sea of grass". The Kansas City Metro Trail consists of over 20 diverse and easy-to-access birding locations near the heart of the city. If you live in Kansas City or just visiting, you are never more than 10 minutes away from a Metro Kansas City Trail site. Many spots nearby offer great birding, including Unity Village, Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park, Martha Lafitte Thompson Nature Center, Thomas J. Lipton Conservation Area, Kemper Outdoor Education Center, or Jim Bridger Urban Conservation Area.

About the Kansas City Trail Region

The Kansas City region not only offers excellent grassland birding, nature trails, and historic parks, but also handmade Amish furniture, antique shops, local restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and shopping centers. Kansas City is also well known for its barbecue, the Starlight Theatre,  Arrowhead Stadium, numerous history and art museums, and downtown shopping centers. The Kansas City Metro Trail includes great birding locations within about a 10 minute ride from your neighborhood. In fact, many of these sites can be reached via public transportation. The Metro Trail sites are great introductions into a wider world of birding without compromising nature's beauty and bird diversity. The Greater Kansas City Trail has trail sites that are farther away from downtown and some are much more off-the-beaten path than the Metro Trail sites. Don't let that deter you, for these are some of the most scenic and well-managed natural habitats in the state, with impressive lists of birds to match.  

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*Historic KYC map is available from the United States Library of Congress's Geography & Map Division under the digital ID g4164k.pm004280.{{PD-1923}}