eBirding the Interstate

On my regular trips between Colorado and Missouri, I rely on wildlife viewing to limit my boredom as I drive across the overly-familiar landscape.  Since I joined eBird last March, I thought it might be interesting to compile a list of sightings along Interstate 70, covering its 423 mile stretch across Kansas.

As one might expect, the most abundant birds observed yesterday included two introduced species: European starlings and rock pigeons.  But I also saw Lapland longspurs, rough-legged hawks and 82 red-tailed hawks (all but 10 of which were seen between Hays and Kansas City).  Perhaps most surprising on that six hour drive across Kansas was that I only saw 20 species, including a rather small number of American crows on the vast farmlands; of course, traveling at 70 mph, some birds (including most of the ducks) could not be identified by species.

The highlight (as often occurs in February) was provided by migrant snow geese; a relatively small flock crossed the Interstate at Russell and a much larger flock moved northward east of Lawrence.  I plan to repeat the count on future journeys across the Sunflower State and anticipate significant changes through the seasons.