US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published in The Prairie Naturalist 29(4): December 1997. Used by permission.


A portion of the Kansas River in northeastern Kansas was surveyed by boat and air in 1996 and 1997 for nesting colonies of piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and least tern (Sterna antillarum). Both species were found breeding on sandbars at a total of five sites along a 30-km reach of the Kansas River. In 1996, at least two breeding pair of piping plovers and seven breeding pair of least terns were documented. In 1997, at least one pair of piping plovers and five pairs of least terns bred. These are the first known breeding records for the piping plover in Kansas and the first breeding records for the least tern on the Kansas River. We suspect that breeding habitat for these species increased after heavy flooding in 1993 scoured riparian vegetation and created new sandbars. Such flood events are now rare on the Kansas River because much of the flow in the basin is controlled by impoundments constructed since the 1950's.