A redneck in Kansas created a lot of talk the among Midwestern birding last week.
It was a bird, a red-necked stint, and one had never before been documented in Kansas.
“It had to be just totally lost,” said Bob Gress, Great Plains Nature Center director. “Sometimes I think animals take off, get lost and just keep on looking.”
Red-necked stints normally summer from Southeast Asia to New Zealand. They’re occasionally seen in Alaska.
“It was truly an exciting thing,” said Barry Jones, the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge biologist who found the bird. “We had people from at least four or five other states show up.”
More may have come, if the six-inch bird would have hung around for more than a couple of days.
Jones happened upon the bird while checking early fall migrants at Quivira last Sunday.
“I saw this little guy and, frankly, I didn’t know what it was,” Jones said. “Looking through binoculars I could see some reddish on it and it just didn’t look right.”
Most early migrating shorebirds, like sandpipers, are basically brown and difficult to distinguish from one another.
Even experienced birders often lump the birds under the general description of “peeps” or LBBs….for little brown birds.
Jones studied the bird for about two hours before contacting a friend, who got the word out on a Kansas birding site.
Ppeople began to arrive Monday, finding the bird near where Jones had seen it by the Little Salt Marsh.
He estimates at least 70 people viewed the bird, including some who drove in from Colorado and Missouri.
Jones thinks birders from as far away as New York may have already been in Kansas when the news broke.
Those who waited until Tuesday left the marsh disappointed.
“We had some pretty decent birders out Tuesday and they couldn’t find it,” Jones said. “Sounds like he’s gone.”
Even late in the week he was still getting inquiries about the bird.
“I think a lot of people were kind of waiting (on Monday) to make sure that’s what it was for sure,” Jones said. “We get some false reports on rare birds.”
This spring, record numbers of ducks arrived in the North Country. Unfortunately, good nesting habitat appears to be down about one-third from last year.
The number of mallards on the nesting grounds was up 15 percent from 2011. Gadwall were up 10 percent and green-winged teal up about 20 percent.
Pintails were the only popular duck to see a decline, with about 22 percent fewer adults for nesting compared to last year.
Biologists warn reduced nesting habitat could lead to fewer ducks migrating south this fall or a higher percentage of the population could be adult birds which can be tougher to hunt.
Counts of migration populations will be released later this summer.