Birds of the KU Field Station
Two bird species lists are available:
- The KU Field Station bird list by area contains species observed on each of the three main field station areas: the core area north of the Kansas River, Baldwin Woods, and Anderson County Prairie Preserve.
- The Checklist of birds, KU Field Station provides seasonal abundance information for the core area of the KU Field Station north of Lawrence. It is designed as a field checklist and can be printed doubled-side on one sheet of paper.
KU Field Station Bird List by Area
The KU Field Station Bird List by Area covers a total of 260 species that have been observed on the three main field station properties: the core area, Baldwin Woods, and the Anderson County Prairie Preserve. The three properties differ from one another in the habitats they contain and in how well- known the bird fauna is. The core area of the Field Station, located north of the Kansas River, contains a mix of open and forested habitats and numerous ponds. The core area’s bird fauna has been well-documented. Baldwin Woods, located near Baldwin City in southern Douglas County, consists largely of Eastern Deciduous Forest, and its bird fauna is fairly well-known. Anderson County Prairie Preserve, located about 50 miles south of Lawrence, is mostly open grassland. Being a relatively new addition to the KU Field Station, the prairie preserve has not received as much study, and the bird list is incomplete.
Key to status codes:
Y = year-round resident
S = summer resident
M = migrant, winter resident or transient (including flyovers)
R = rare, vagrant, or accidental
The taxonomic sequence and nomenclature used in this list follow the Checklist of North American Birds, 7th edition, American Ornithologists’ Union, 1998, updated through the 54th Supplement, 2013. Last updated in October 2015.
Checklist of Field Station Birds
The Checklist of birds covers the 257 bird species that have been recorded on the core area of the KU Field Station located north of the Kansas River in Douglas, Jefferson and Leavenworth counties from 1948 to the present. This includes the Nelson Environmental Study Area, the Rockefeller Experimental Tract and the Fitch Natural History Reservation. Of these species, 82 are confirmed breeders and are denoted with an asterisk. Seventeen additional species are listed as probable breeders or former breeders only and are denoted with an asterisk in parentheses.
Some species only occur as summer residents (30 percent) and are absent in the winter, e.g., flycatchers, vireos and swallows. Others are winter residents (15 percent) and are for the most part absent in summer, e.g., most sparrows and waterfowl. Some species are permanent residents and are present year-round (15 percent), e.g., most woodpeckers, owls and chickadees. Many of the species on the list are present as spring and fall migrants or visitants (40 percent), e.g. sandpipers, warblers and thrushes.
The checklist contains the following notations for abundance:
C (Common)—Present in moderate to high densities during the seasons indicated and to be expected on almost any visit to the field.
U (Uncommon)—Present during the seasons indicated in low densities; regularly occurring but only in the appropriate habitat.
O (Occasional)—Irregular during either the seasons indicated or in annual frequency; present in low densities and records infrequent.
R (Rare)—Few records, erratic in occurrence due either to very little suitable habitat or very low population densities.
A (Accidental)—Extremely rare, not to be expected; extra-limital in occurrence.
Abundance information is presented for each of four standard seasons of the year. A blank box on the checklist indicates that there are no records at the indicated time of year. The four seasons are defined by the months of the year in the following key.
Spring (Sp) March–May
Summer (Su) June–August
Fall (F) September–November
Winter (W) December–February
The avifauna of the core area of the Field Station is composed of species typical of the Eastern Deciduous Forest and the prairie-forest ecotone, including early successional shrublands and open lands in former agricultural areas. Several Great Plains specialties, such as Harris’s sparrow, dickcissel and Bell’s vireo, are commonly found on the core area.
This checklist is based on field records of H. Fitch, C. Cink, R. Boyd, R. Johnston, M. Robbins and G. Pittman. It covers the period 1948-2015. This list was compiled by Galen Pittman (biologist and previous KU Field Station manager) with the aid of the aforementioned records and more than 20 years of field surveys conducted by the compiler from 1985 through 2015. The taxonomic sequence and nomenclature used in this list follow the Checklist of North American Birds, 7th edition, American Ornithologists’ Union, 1998, updated through the 54th Supplement, 2013.
For more information
General information on ecology and abundance of species occurring on the Field Station and in the region can be found in Thompson and others (2011), Birds of Kansas. Likewise, broader information on bird abundance and natural communities in the region can be obtained by contacting the Kansas Biological Survey. Detailed information on the local ecology of many of these species can be found in numerous scientific publications reporting research at the Field Station. Specific questions as to abundance and ecology of birds at the Field Station, and current emphasis of ecological research, can be obtained by contacting the Field Station administrative office. An extensive research collection of birds is housed at the Natural History Museum on the main campus of the University of Kansas.