Kansas, a state characterized by its extensive prairies and abundant wildlife, is a paradise for those who appreciate the elegance and power of birds of prey. As they soar over the vast plains and roost in the woodlands, they play a vital role in controlling pest populations and maintaining a balance in nature.
List of Birds of Prey in Kansas
Red-tailed Hawk: This common bird can be found in open areas throughout Kansas. It’s not uncommon to see them perched on fences or power lines along roads.
Sharp-shinned Hawk: Best seen in wooded areas during migration seasons, they are more prevalent in eastern Kansas.
Cooper’s Hawk: Known to thrive in wooded habitats across Kansas, this bird species can also be observed in urban areas like Wichita and Overland Park.
Red-shouldered Hawk: Mostly spotted in the woodlands of southeastern Kansas, near the Neosho River and its tributaries.
Broad-winged Hawk: Mostly observed during migration in forested regions around the Kansas City metro area.
Ferruginous Hawk: Look for this species in the open grasslands of western Kansas, particularly around Dodge City.
Swainson’s Hawk: They are summer visitors to Kansas’s grasslands and can often be seen around the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.
Rough-legged Hawk: This winter visitor from the Arctic can be spotted in open areas across the state, but is more common in the Flint Hills region.
Osprey: These fish-eating hawks are primarily seen during their spring and fall migration, particularly around larger bodies of water like Milford Lake.
Great Horned Owl: Kansas’s most common owl species, they can be found in wooded areas statewide, from the suburbs of Kansas City to the Cimarron National Grassland.
Barred Owl: This owl is most common in the heavily wooded areas of eastern Kansas, particularly along the Kansas River.
Eastern Screech-Owl: Widespread throughout the state, this owl can be found in wooded areas near water bodies.
Snowy Owl: This Arctic visitor is a rare sight, mostly seen in open areas like the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge during severe winters.
American Barn Owl: This species prefers grasslands and agricultural areas and is most often seen in southern parts of Kansas.
Burrowing Owl: Found in open, dry grasslands of western Kansas, often around prairie dog towns near Scott State Lake.
Northern Saw-whet Owl: These elusive birds are mainly seen during migration in the woodlands around Topeka and Lawrence.
Short-eared Owl: This species is most likely seen in the grasslands of the Flint Hills, especially at dusk and dawn.
American Kestrel: The most common falcon in Kansas, often spotted in open areas, including the Konza Prairie.
Peregrine Falcon: These falcons are now nesting on buildings in urban areas such as Wichita and Topeka.
Prairie Falcon: Look for this falcon in the open plains of western Kansas, around Garden City.
Bald Eagle: Increasingly common, particularly in winter near large bodies of water such as Tuttle Creek Reservoir.
Golden Eagle: Mostly seen in the wide-open areas of western Kansas, like the High Plains.
Turkey Vulture: A common summer resident, often seen soaring in the sky throughout the state.
Black Vulture: This vulture is slowly expanding its range northward from the southeastern corner of Kansas. Check for them around the Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area.
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)
Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)
Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
Where to Spot Kansas’s Birds of Prey
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, Great Bend: As one of the largest inland marshes in the country, it’s an excellent spot for bird watching. You can spot several species of hawks, eagles, and owls in the area, especially during migration seasons.
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Stafford: Located in the heart of the Central Flyway, this refuge offers a mix of salt marshes, sand dunes, and prairies, attracting a variety of raptors including Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, and Bald Eagles.
Milford Nature Center and Fish Hatchery, Junction City: The area around the nature center is known for its population of raptors, including several hawk species, American Kestrels, and Great Horned Owls. The center itself houses rehabilitated birds of prey which cannot be released back to the wild.
Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, Pleasanton: This refuge provides diverse habitats, from bottomland hardwoods to tallgrass prairies, making it a home for a variety of birds of prey like Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and Barred Owls.
Cimarron National Grassland, Elkhart: As the largest area of public land in Kansas, it provides an ideal habitat for birds of prey. Look for Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and Great Horned Owls as they soar above the prairie.
The open skies of Kansas are an ideal backdrop for its birds of prey. Explore the natural grandeur represented by Nebraska’s Feathered Predators. Or, journey into the rugged landscapes mirrored by Colorado’s Skyborne Hunters. Discover more about these magnificent creatures with our Birds of Prey Guide.