Monthly Archives: December 2014

Audubon Christmas Bird Counts in Kansas

Birders tally encounters with winged friends this holiday


If you have an interest in birds and some spare time this winter, consider participating in a count


You don’t have to be a seasoned birder, or even own an expensive pair of binoculars to participate in a Christmas bird count. In fact, an identification book and a bit of free time will do the trick. Birders of all skill levels will spend the next few weeks during organized bird counts recording sightings of resident and migratory birds in an effort to compile as much data as possible about Kansas’ winged species. If you have an interest in birds and don’t mind weathering the elements, consider participating in a Christmas bird count this season. It’s fun and a great way to learn more about birds in Kansas.

There are many count compilers in Kansas who send data to the Kansas Ornithological Society (KOS), and there is no charge to participate. The KOS will accept data collected on counts conducted from Dec. 13 through Jan. 11, 2015. The official Audubon Christmas Bird Count period is Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 and participation is also free of charge.

Christmas bird counts have been conducted for more than 100 years, and more than 2,000 counts are held across the nation each year. Each winter, about 50 individual count events occur in Kansas. More than 40 are scheduled so far this year with others to be announced. Count locations are scheduled in all corners of the state and points in between. Christmas bird counts are typically conducted in traditional circular census areas, each with a 7.5-mile radius. This consistency ensures data collected is comparable for population trends over time.

Count events are easy to prepare for; the best tools are a pair of binoculars, a good field guide, and appropriate clothing and footwear for possible extreme weather. For those counting in an area with a lake, a spotting scope may be necessary to identify birds at long distances. It’s also a good idea to study up on species expected in your location.

Information about Kansas Christmas bird counts can be found at the KOS website, For details, just click “2014/15 Kansas Christmas Bird Counts.”

For more information about Audubon Christmas Bird Counts in Kansas, go to

Kansas Wetlands Education Center to hold holiday open house Dec. 13

Join the staff of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) in celebrating the Christmas season with a Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to noon on Dec. 13.

Visitors can hum along to holiday music and graze on Christmas cookies, breads and warm beverages. After a fill of holidays treats, visitors can try their luck at finding KWEC’s Christmas goose and earn the opportunity to win a $50 gift certificate to KWEC’s gift store.

Kids can decorate gingerbread birdhouses and make bird feeder swags, while adults can take advantage of specials in the gift shop. Gift store shoppers may also purchase one item at 40 percent off, excluding consignment items. The first 100 adults will also receive $5 gift cards to Waters True Value in Great Bend.

Once your holiday shopping is complete, discover how best to provide winter bird feeding and watering from Rob Penner, The Nature Conservancy avian programs manager at Cheyenne Bottoms. Feeder and water products from Waters True Value will also be on display.

Preregistration is required for the gingerbread birdhouse activity, with a limited number of seats available. The registration deadline is Dec. 10. No registration is required for any other activities.

For more information, or to register for the gingerbread birdhouse activity, call (877) 243-9268.

Make a Pinecone Bird Feeder

The Cornell Lab’s Citizen Science Blog has a recipe for making your own pinecone feeders with seeds and suet attached to them.

Photo by Brian

Photo by Brian


“For birds, it means having access to nutrient-rich, fat-laden nuts, seeds, and even straight-up fat (like in suet). Consider making these easy to assemble pinecone suet feeders so your bird-neighbors have enough energy to survive the winter. Unlike us, they actually need that extra helping of fat this time of year!”






Check out the details from their Blog at



Senate vote to increase Duck Stamp fee is a win for sportsmen

Measure would channel millions of dollars to wetlands and waterfowl habitat conservation; vote follows House advancement of companion bill last month


By Katie McKalip



A bipartisan bill that would raise the price of a federal Duck Stamp from $15 to $25 and channel millions of dollars toward wetlands and other waterfowl habitat conservation passed the Senate December 2nd, winning loud praise from conservation and sportsmen’s interests that have consistently championed the measure.

The Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 (S. 2621), introduced by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, would increase the cost of a Duck Stamp, the annual permit required to hunt migratory waterfowl, for the first time since 1991. Today’s action follows a November vote by the House of Representatives to advance a companion bill (H.R. 5069), introduced by Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, that drew similarly broad bipartisan support.

“At a time when millions of acres of wildlife habitat are at risk of being lost forever, congressional approval of this bipartisan legislation is a critical boost for wetlands conservation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By restoring the lost purchasing power of the Federal Duck Stamp, this legislation will give us the opportunity to work with thousands of additional landowners across the nation to maintain vital habitat for waterfowl, grassland birds and hundreds of other native species.”

Ashe continued, “I want to thank the bill’s sponsors, congressional leaders and millions of hunters and other conservationists for purchasing Duck Stamps and contributing to the preservation of habitat that all Americans can enjoy for generations to come.”

“The National Wildlife Federation and our fantastic state affiliates strongly supported the price increase (we unanimously adopted a Resolution supporting an increase last year at our Annual Meeting), as did the hunting community at large,” said National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara. The bill already passed the House so it is on to President Obama’s desk to be signed!

National Wildlife Federation’s founder J.N. “Ding” Darling conceived of the idea of using Duck Stamps to raise money for the purchase of wetlands and he also illustrated the very first stamp. It’s a great example of conservationists coming together to fund critical conservation (the North American conservation model in action).

“Since 1934 sales of Federal Duck Stamps have generated over $800 million to preserve over 6 million acres of critical wetlands habitat in the United States as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said O’Mara. “Wildlife refuges not only serve as habitat for ducks and geese, but they provide countless benefits such as flood mitigation, water filtration, and habitat for more than 700 bird species, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 1,000 fish species, and one-third of endangered or threatened species. Refuge visitor spending also generates billions of dollars every year for local communities.”

“For decades, duck hunters have proudly paid their own way,” said Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) President and CEO Whit Fosburgh, “funding countless conservation initiatives all across the country that have helped increase duck numbers and improve wetland habitat. Yet we want to do more.”

“The price of a Duck Stamp has not been increased since 1991,” Fosburgh continued. “During that time, the price of a first class U.S. postage stamp has increased 14 times. Duck hunters and waterfowl enthusiasts understand the importance of our Duck Stamp purchases, and we thank Congress for putting aside politics to pass this commonsense bill.”

“This week’s actions represent a much-needed win for wetlands conservation, Prairie Pothole protection, the National Wildlife Refuge System and sportsmen’s interests,” said Steve Kline, TRCP director of government relations. “From a practical perspective, they also mean more ducks and better hunting seasons – as well as increased funds to expand and enhance access to places where waterfowlers can enjoy quality days afield.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

Fairy Shrimp in Kansas

Fairy Shrimp drawn by Norwegian zoologist Georg Ossian Sars (1896)

Fairy Shrimp drawn by Norwegian zoologist Georg Ossian Sars (1896)

It is important that artists where able to capture scientific details of wildlife before cameras were able to photograph them accurately. A species of Fairy Shrimp was drawn with both scientific accuracy and artistic appreciation in 1896 by Georg Ossian Sars, a Norwegian marine and freshwater biologist. His work, centered around crustaceans,  was published in the Fauna Norvegiae. His drawing of Branchinecta_paludosa, a species of Fairy Shrimp is shown above. Fairy shrimp are found in ephemeral waters of Kansas.

Fairy Shrimp

Redtail Fairy Shrimp from

Redtail Fairy Shrimp from

Redtail Fairy Shrimp (female)  from

Fairy shrimp are a class of crustacean that is usually a quarter of an inch to a inch in length. Their exoskeleton is thin and flexible. Most species have a highly segmented body with three parts: head, thorax and abdomen. The head has two compound eyes, each located on the end of a prominent stalk, and two pairs of antennae. The second pair of antennae is longer. In males these longer antennae are specialized for holding the female during mating although few species reproduce by parthenogenesis. Fairy shrimp have 11 pairs of leaf-like phyllopodia (swimming legs) along their thorax that move in a synchronized rhythmic manner (metachronal) to propel them gracefully through the water. They live in vernal or ephemeral pools but can survive in hypersaline lakes, desert pools, and even icy waters. They swim “upside-down” (ventral side facing the water’s surface) either filtering organic materials from the water or obtaining algae from the surface of submerged rocks. According to Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, Fairy shrimp could be found in eastern Kansas before 1950 in “small pools in roadside ditches, along railroad fills, in drainage canals in floodplains and in pastures and woodlands are of frequent occurrence; these pools are richly supplied with vegetation which makes excellent culture media for small crustacean animals.” They are an important food source for fish and birds. Pintails and mallards feed on them in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Great Plains. For a more interesting details about Fairy shrimp visit the

USDA Approves 12,300 More Acres in Kansas for Wildlife Habitat

Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that a total of 64,400 acres in Kansas are now available for wildlife habitat improvement incentives.

FSA is accepting applications to enroll more acres in the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) whereby FSA contracts with landowners so that environmentally sensitive land is not farmed or ranched, but instead used for conservation. Targeted wildlife species in Kansas are prairie-chickens.

Program participants establish long-term plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality, or strengthen declining wildlife populations. In return, participants receive annual rental payments between 10 and 15 years.

The SAFE program allows state fish and wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations and other conservation partners to target the Conservation Reserve Program within distinct geographic areas to help wildlife. SAFE is limited to 1.35 million acres nationally, with 97 projects in 36 states and Puerto Rico.

Interested landowners can enroll acres in a designated wildlife project in their state at any time. Participants and land must meet certain eligibility requirements. Other restrictions may apply. For additional details, contact your local Farm Service Agency office at or visit the website at

Federal Duck Stamp Act Passes Senate

On the afternoon of December 2, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) got unanimous consent on the Senate floor to pass H.R. 5069, the Federal Duck Stamp Act, and another bill, S. 1000, the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act.

Of course, last month, the House itself passed H.R. 5069, which would increase the price of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp from $15 to $25. The extra $10 would be dedicated to easements. It has been estimated that an additional $16 million per year for habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System could be available through this increase.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who had strongly pushed for the bill as lead Senate sponsor, said that the bill was needed for conservation efforts since the price of stamps had not increased since 1991. One of Vitter’s chief allies in the Senate, Mark Begich (D-Ak), emphasized the importance of bringing the stamp up-to-date, stressing, that “the program has lost buying power because of inflation and because the price of targeted habitat has tripled over the past two decades.” Vitter added, “This [Senate passage] is huge news for conservation and duck hunters.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director, Dan Ashe, commented, “By restoring the lost purchasing power of the Federal Duck Stamp, this legislation will give us the opportunity to work with thousands of additional landowners across the nation to maintain vital habitat for waterfowl, grassland birds, and hundreds of other native species”.
Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited, added, “The additional duck stamps funding provided by waterfowl hunters and other conservationists will not only conserve critical waterfowl habitat, but will also help ensure the future of our water-fowling traditions.”

The bill has now headed to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The current stamps expire on June 30, 2015, and the new price, once the President signs the bill into law, is expected to appear on stamps for 2015-2016.

This law should strengthen the means by which crucial funds for wetland and grassland habitats are collected. Still, the case for saving these habitats has to be made again and again to Americans preoccupied with other issues. More of the public also needs to appreciate the constructive role of easements at this particular time and the necessity to increase overall sales of the stamp, especially among those people not currently required to buy the stamp.

Ultimately, it’s all about the habitat!

Kansas Outdoor Recreation Plan ready for comment

Comments sought on draft outdoor plan


A draft of the 2015 Kansas Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) is available for review and comment on the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) website, The five-year plan addresses the period from 2015 through 2019. Comments can be made online using the email form provided or by postal mail to: Kyle Jackson, KDWPT Parks Division, 512 S.E. 25th Ave., Pratt, KS67424-8174. Comments must be submitted online or postmarked no later than Friday, December 19, 2014.

The National Park Service requires Kansas to produce the report in order to remain eligible for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Grants. Kansas has received more than $50 million in LWCF grant funding since the program began in 1965.

The plan assesses the status of outdoor experiences and examines important outdoor recreation issues facing the state. It includes recommendations on how the state might improve the outdoor experiences and benefits for residents and visitors. As the plan was developed, KDWPT and consultant Sid Stevenson, PhD sought public input on topics including managed park use, issues and needs, and the types of experiences park-goers hope to have in the future.

To review the draft plan and submit comments go to and click on “State Parks” then “2015 SCORP Draft.”


Posted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism on Dec 3rd, 2014

Fourteen wildlife areas currently utilize the system, more to come

PRATT – Since Sept. 1, hunters using select Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) wildlife areas have been able to obtain free daily hunt permits electronically through the iSportsman system. To date, more than 4,500 individuals have registered for accounts and have “checked in” for 8,000 daily hunting permits. Although several thousand hunters have used the new system, a large percentage of hunters continue to use the traditional paper permit system. The iSportsman electronic permit system, which is more efficient and economical than the paper system, is in use at the following wildlife areas: Jamestown, Lovewell, Clinton, Elwood, Kansas River, Milford, Cheyenne Bottoms, Texas Lake, Isabel, McPherson Wetlands, Slate Creek Wetlands, Neosho, Melvern and Lyon. A similar system has already been in use at Fort Riley.

This is a reminder for hunters planning to hunt any of the aforementioned areas to register for an account at any time by logging on to Upon completing the registration, hunters will obtain a general access permit. He or she can then log on or call in before they plan to hunt to “check in.” After a hunt is complete, the hunter can then log on or call in to report harvests and “check out” of the system. The system can be utilized from any computer, smart phone, cell phone or landline.

For more information on iSportsman, call (620) 672-5911 or visit