KANSAS CITY Mo -- Bird watchers recently counted a record 102 distinct bird species in one day at the Four Rivers Conservation Area in Vernon and Bates counties.
Volunteers, such as members of the Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City, fanned out across the almost 14,000-acre area on Dec. 14 to record bird observations. The effort is part of the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count that occurs on natural areas. Data gathered by the conservation partners helps biologists track bird populations and movements nationally over the long term.
Four Rivers offers a rich mix of diverse wildlife habitats that puts it at the top among wildlife areas in Missouri annually for the Christmas Bird Counts, said Mark Robbins, an ornithologist at the University of Kansas. Three new species for the annual Four Rivers count were noted including an eared grebe, a red-breasted merganser and a northern shrike, said Robbins, who led the field trip.
“The reason it’s so good is that you’ve got a great habitat mix there,” he said. “You’ve got wetlands, woodlands and some small prairies on the area.”
Four Rivers is 15 miles north of Nevada, east of U.S. 71, and includes the August A. Busch Jr. Memorial Wetlands. The area has 6,000 acres of wetlands, 4,000 acres of woodlands, 1,200 acres of crops, 1,100 acres of restored warm season or cool season grasses and 675 acres of native prairie. It also includes ponds and old fields. Four Rivers is also one of the state’s premier waterfowl hunting areas.