Field Trips

There’s nothing we enjoy more than introducing you to birds or helping you find things in nature. Our volunteers who lead these field trips work hard to make sure we’re exposing you to a diverse amount of habitats throughout the entire greater Kansas City area and beyond. Field trips visit all the habitats that our birds rely on for their survival – wetlands, woodlands, prairies and grasslands, agriculture, urban, and savannah.  

Photo of a field trip enjoying sunrise at Hillsdale Lake

Sunrise at Hillsdale Lake during a fall Field Trip.

For all field trips, we recommend that you dress for the weather, in layers, and bring water, snacks and insect repellent. In the details, we’ll let you know if you need to bring lunch or lunch money. Almost everything that Burroughs Audubon offers is free, even to non-members.  

Some field trips are low-impact and are spent in the car, so if you own any FRS radios, we encourage you to bring them so that bird sightings can be shared between vehicles. Some of the trips are walking trails once you meet. Any questions you have regarding the trips can be answered by the field-trip coordinators or by the volunteer leader of that specific trip.

In addition to Burroughs Field Trips, other nature walks and bird walks are available around the Kansas City Area. Below is a list of locations offering additional trips for your consideration. If you would like your field-trips page listed below please contact Burroughs.


Upcoming Trips


October 2018

Wednesday, October 17th – Jerry Smith Park fall Bird Census 

We will meet at 8 am at the Jerry Smith Trailhead Parking lot at the top of the ridge and search this largely undeveloped city park for southbound and resident bird species at this Jackson County, Missouri park. To get to the Parking lot drive east on 139th St from Holmes Avenue and go approximately 0.75 mile; take the 2nd left on Prospect Ave up the hill to the small gravel parking lot. The observations from this census assists KC Wildlands and are part of their ongoing monitoring and mission toward land stewardship around the Kansas City Metro region. Dress for the weather and walking along the trails outside, feel free to bring snacks and beverages. Moderate walking along a mile and half trail should be expected for this trip.

Your leader for this trip is Sherry Leonardo. For more information, contact Sherry at


Banding station portion of trip is full – October 20th and 21st – Hitchcock Nature Center, Iowa

Hitchcock Nature Center is one of the premier fall hawk watch locations in the Midwest and is located approximately 15 miles northeast of Council Bluffs Iowa. As an official hawk watch location it has a counter on top of a 45-foot tower in addition to a banding station and hiking trails. We divide into 2 groups upon arrival with 1 group going up on the tower and the other going to the banding station. After lunch the two groups will switch locations. The banding station can only accommodate 6 people at a time and the group size is limited to 12 people total for the banding station. Your leader for this trip is Sherry Leonardo. Participants must RSVP to Sherry via email at Contact Sherry if you plan to attend, even if the banding station cannot be visited due to limited space.

Participants are responsible for arranging their own accommodations in Council Bluffs. We will meet at the Platte City McDonald’s at 6 am to caravan together. Carpooling is strongly encouraged but must be arranged ahead of time because cars CANNOT be left overnight in the lot.

We should arrive around 9:30 am where we’ll divide our time between the hawk watch tower/trails and the hawk banding station. Participants need to bring their lunch as there aren’t any eating places near the Nature Center. We’ll depart Hitchcock around 3:30 pm to check into lodging and meet at 6 pm for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Afterwards there’s an option to go back to Hitchcock for Saw-Whet Owl banding. Participants are on their own for breakfast Sunday morning and we’ll meet around 8 to bird Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs before heading home.

For additional info or help with carpooling and lodging recommendations please contact Sherry Leonardo at


Saturday, October 27th – Clinton Lake Outlet Park

We’ll walk a field searching for Le Conte’s Sparrow, Nelson’s Sparrow, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, and other southbound migrants and winter residents. This walk is about a mile in wet conditions through tall grass and advise rubber boots and rain pants if you have them. The half-day trip will continue to Baker Wetlands, Clinton Lake, or another neighboring location mid-morning and the trip will end by lunch. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Rodney Wright. For carpooling meet at Wendy’s located northeast of the Woodland Drive and K-10 intersection in Lenexa Kansas at 6:30 am. Alternatively, meet at the Clinton International Model Airport shortly after 7 am. For additional information, contact Rodney at (913) 548-1486.


November 2018


Saturday, November 3rd – Smithville Lake joint with Midland Empire Audubon Society

We’ll stop and scope Smithville Lake from multiple locations in search of southbound migrating gulls, waterfowl, loons, and grebes.  We will be meeting at Sailboat Cove at 9 am. This time may vary a little be depending on the arrival of individuals from Grand River Audubon. From there the group will proceed to Crows Creek, take a small break for a sack lunch, then visit the area behind the Visitors Center and finish the trip at the dam. Bring a sack lunch, snacks, optics, and field guides for this all-day trip. Dress in layers, as conditions can be cold and windy at this time of year. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

The leaders for this trip are Terry McNeely and Brent Galliart. For more information, contact Malcolm Gold at or 608-807-6086.


Saturday, November 17th – Miami and Linn Counties

We’ll stop and scope Hillsdale Reservoir, Miola Lake, Paola Water Treatment Ponds, Unit G, and La Cygnes Lake for waterfowl, gulls, grebes and loons. We’ll also explore the areas for wintering sparrows and year-round residents.  This trip is mostly a driving trip with minimal walking involved. We’ll stop at Casey’s in Pleasanton for lunch so feel free to bring a sack lunch or snacks if convenience store food is not your preference.  Bring optics, field guides, and FRS radios. Dress in layers, as conditions are often cold and windy at this time of year. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Malcolm Gold. Meet at 7 am in the parking lot in front of PetSmart near I-35 and 119th in Overland Park to carpool and caravan for this all-day trip. For more information, contact Malcolm at or 608-807-6086.


Saturday, November 24th – Loess Bluffs NWR joint with Midland Empire Audubon Society

We’ll witness multitudes of Snow Geese and waterfowl, as well as dozens of Bald Eagles. We’ll gather at the Loess Bluffs Welcome Center around 8:45 a.m., and begin our first trip around the refuge’s 10-mile auto tour loop around 9:00. We’ll return to the visitor center around 12:30 p.m. to use the picnic tables for lunch and restrooms before making a second pass around the loop in the afternoon. Bring a sack lunch, snacks, optics, field guides, and FRS radios. Dress in layers, as conditions are often cold and windy at this time of year. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Mike Stoakes. For carpooling, meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Platte City commuter lot. For more information, contact Mike at or 816-554-1956.


December 2018


Saturday, December 1st – Johnson County joint with Topeka Audubon

Join us as we explore western Johnson County for winter migrants, waterfowl, and sparrows. We will walk trails at Kill Creek Park, Shawnee Mission Park, and scope bodies of water. Bring optics, field guides, and FRS radios. This trip will likely continue into the afternoon but feel free to join us for part or all of the trip. Bring a lunch or money to grab a quick lunch when we stop at one of the many fast-food locations. Dress in layers, as conditions are often cold and windy at this time of year. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Aaron Batterbee. Meet at 8 am at Lexington Lake Park. For more information, contact Aaron at


Saturday, December 8th – Lyon, Coffey, and Osage Counties

This trip consists of birding by car with stops around Melvern Reservoir, a short bit of walking around Lyon County State Fishing Lake, and stops around John Redmond Reservoir in search of winter species such as Smith’s Longspurs, grebes, loons, scoters, gulls, shrikes, sparrows, and Long-eared Owls. Bring food, beverages, and FRS radios for this all-day trip. If participants are interested, traditionally some stop at Guy and Mae’s Tavern in Williamsburg afterwards for BBQ ribs and to compile a trip total. Individuals of all skill levels are welcome to attend.

Your leader for this trip is Matt Gearheart. Meet at 7 am in the parking lot in front of PetSmart near I-35 and 119th in Overland Park to carpool and caravan for this all-day trip. For more information, contact Matt at or (913) 568-4678.


December 14th through January 5thChristmas Bird Counts!

Information on how to participate with local Christmas Bird Counts will be added as local compilers make it available.


February 2019


Saturday, February 9th – Shawnee SFL and Banner Creek joint with Topeka Audubon – Details will be added soon


Saturday, February 23rd – Clinton Reservoir and Perry Lake

Join us as we scan Clinton Reservoir and Perry Lake for waterfowl, gulls, and raptors and check other locations for sparrows, shrikes, finches, and whatever else is around. Bring all the usual items, including binoculars, scopes, FRS radios, drinks, snacks, cold weather gear (lakes are always windy places and it’s still February). We will bird Clinton in the morning, then stop for lunch at a local venue(usually Jason’s Deli). We will continue to Perry for an afternoon of birding. There is a $5 daily Vehicle Entry Fee for Clinton State Park if you don’t have a pass. And remember it is always nice to chip in for gas if you are carpooling. This is an all day trip but you’re welcome to participate as long as you like.

Your leader of this trip is Mark Land. Meet at 7:30 am at Wendy’s north of K-10 on Woodland Drive for carpooling and to caravan west. If coming from other areas, we will meet at the Corp of Engineers office at the Clinton State Park entrance shortly after 8 am. In case of cancellation the back-up date is Saturday March 2nd and the cancellation notice will be posted here on the Burroughs Website and Friends of Burroughs Audubon Facebook Page. For more information, contact Mark at or 816-590- 9814.


Brief reports from past Field Trips 

We encourage you to share your experience with others. Add your photos to the trip list within eBird, share them on social media, and invite your friends to an upcoming trip.


10/13/2018 – A nice sized group experienced the mass migration of Franklin’s Gulls at Hillsdale Reservoir and enjoyed a leisurely walk around Brown Wetlands. The 70+ species included a nice mixture of sparrows, warblers, nuthatches, waterfowl, gulls, and raptors. 

9/20/2018 – Fifteen individuals enjoyed first light over a calm Longview Lake and enjoyed views of Caspian Terns and both expected Accipters among 30+ species.

9/8/2018 – Eight individuals dodged morning showers in a fall morning walk at Prairie Center in Olathe. Forty species were observed including an early fall Merlin. The laid-back morning walk included discussions on plants and other regional native topics. 

8/24 through 8/26 – Thirty-five individuals from Kansas and Missouri enjoyed birds at Cheyenne Bottoms, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, and the Larned area in central Kansas. Over a hundred species were observed and the owls and hummingbirds were life views for many in the group.

7/14/2018 – A dozen individuals participated in the first annual Grandview NABA Butterfly count. The group ended up with 38 different butterfly species between Jerry Smith Park and Meadowmere Park. In addition to the amazing count of butterflies, the group observed over 30 different species of summer breeding resident bird species.

6/12/2018 – Six individuals conducted a summer breeding bird census at Jerry Smith Park. Indigo Buntings, Dickcissels, American Goldfinches, and Field Sparrows were numerous!

6/9/2018 – Seven birders walked the trails along the Blue River near Minor Park and found 38 species on a humid but sunny and windless morning. The highlight was a fair number and variety of warblers.

6/3/2018 – Twenty-four people enjoyed the unique tall-grass prairie at Dunn Ranch and Pawnee Prairie Natural Areas. Bobolinks, Upland Sandpipers and other prairie species highlighted a trip which included a Henslow’s Sparrow and a Greater Prairie Chicken.

5/22/2018 – A short walk around KCP&L Wetlands yielded three different types of flycatchers for the 8 participants among the 50 species. Overall there was a low diversity of shorebirds but the group had excellent views of Bell’s Vireos.

5/18/2018 – A leisurely walk below the dam at Shawnee Mission Park and stop near the Boy Scout Camp 1 yielded a few species and Chuck-will’s-widows for the 22 participants. The group was unsuccessful in hearing Eastern Whip-poor-wills at Blackhoof Park. 

5/17/2018 – A large group commandeered the multi-use trail at Tomahawk Park to enjoy both breeding birds and migrants. Blackburnian Warblers and a nest-building Ruby-throated Hummingbird were the highlights from this morning walk.

5/15/2018 – Ten individuals walked the paved trails of Blackhoof Park and enjoyed 75 species. Many warblers were heard but few were seen well. An Olive-sided Flycatcher provided nice views for everyone.

5/12/2018 – Nineteen individuals surveyed Fort Leavenworth. A total of 94 species, including 14 Warblers, and a wonderful mixture of migrant and summer residents of grassland, riparian, and hardwood forest floodplain were observed. This is a unique habitat and the sheer number of American Redstarts and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks observed on the lowlands makes this a trip everyone should experience. 

5/11/2018 – Three participants enjoyed a variety of waders, waterfowl, raptors, and passerines on the Blue River Parkway Spring Migration Census. Highlights included a flyover by a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, two Green Herons flying together, and a Broad-winged Hawk. A male Wood Duck perching in a large Sycamore tree, a number of first-of-season Yellow-billed Cuckoos and 14 different warbler species were observed! Join us again at this site on Saturday, June 9 for the Breeding Bird Census.

5/10/2018 – A group of five people observed 99 species around Hillsdale Lake. A singing Pine Warbler was observed by one person who arrived a bit early while others were out listening to Chuck-will’s-widows.

5/8/2018 – Fifty-three species of migrants and resident songbirds were observed by 10 individuals at Antioch Park.

5/8/2018 – Forty-seven species of mostly migrant and resident songbirds were observed by 5 individuals on the Jerry Smith Park Spring Migration Census. Good looks (and vocalizations) at Least Flycatcher and House Wren. Join us again at this site on Tuesday, June 12 for the Breeding Bird Census.

5/3/2018 – Approximately 50 species of diverse migrant Warblers, Vireos, lingering sparrows and summer residents were observed by 11 individuals at Shannon Valley Park in Overland Park. 

4/28/2018 – Twelve individuals searched Neosho Wildlife Area and found 98 different species!  Included in the species included a Neotropic Cormorant and many shorebirds.

4/26/2018 – Eight individuals enjoyed the calm, but brisk, morning at Tomahawk Park. Only a handful of migrant passerines were found among the 38 species.

4/24/2018 – Five individuals enjoyed a nice hike around Shawnee Mission Park, finding a male Lesser Goldfinch among 45 other species!

4/21/2018 – Twelve individuals the autoloop at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge and ended with 95 species for the day.  A Piping Plover among many shorebirds, a hybrid Cinnamon Teal among the waterfowl, sparrows, and a Broad-Winged Hawk to start the day were the highlights.

4/17/2018 – A cold morning walk at KCP&L Wetlands in Gardner yielded 37 species for the seven participants. If the habitat remains as nice as it is now we expect a good variety of shorebirds to show up here, but future morning walks this year will be at various other locations.  A Yellow-headed Blackbird and variety of shorebirds highlighted this trip.

4/15/2018 – A group of four hardy souls drove through snow to arrive at Four Rivers Conservation Area and occasionally left the warmth cars to scan the amazing habitat with scopes. A Peregrine Falcon hunting the flats at the headquarters, numerous shorebirds at Presidents Marsh, and a surprise Long-tailed Duck highlighted the 72 species trip.

3/17/2018 – Nine people gathered for a windy and overcast St. Patrick’s Day field trip through the Osage Plains of Cass and Henry Counties in western MO. Migratory waterfowl were well represented in nearly all areas visited, but the highlights of day involved perusing grassy areas of recent managed and unplanned burns. Many birds are attracted to such landscapes by the killed invertebrates, small vertebrates, and seeds that are readily accessible in the immediate aftermath of a fire. Species observed utilizing burned areas on Saturday included Killdeer, Northern Flicker, Horned Lark, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, American Pipit, American Tree Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Rusty Blackbird.

3/9/2018 – 16 people gathered at Prairie Center in Olathe to view American Woodcocks. For six high school students and three others this was the first time seeing that species!

3/7/2018 – On a cool but relatively calm night 9 individuals enjoyed the calling, flight displays, and observations of American Woodcocks and Jerry Smith Park.

2/24/2018 – Overcast skies, a light drizzle, and fog were made it challenging to find gulls at Clinton Lake. A group of 14 people were unable to relocate the juvenile Black-Legged Kittiwake that has been around but did find a pair of Glaucous Gulls and a White-Winged Scoter among the almost 60 species.

2/17/2018 – Nineteen people enjoyed this joint trip to Shawnee State Fishing Lake and Banner Creek, areas. Rough-Legged Hawks, waterfowl, and sparrows were found across many locations.

1/23/2018 – Three participants conducted a winter survey of Jerry Smith park and found 24 species during a couple hour walk.  A beautiful photo of an overwintering Hermit Thrush is included in this checklist.

1/21/2018 – Fifteen people spent the morning scoping Wyandotte County lake and walking a few trails finding over 40 species and a nice diversity of waterfowl.

1/20/2018 On icy and muddy trails, six folks joining the Blue River Parkway Winter Bird Census found 31 species along a 1.6-mile stretch of the Blue River corridor, including Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Winter Wren, and Hermit Thrush.

2017 Trip Reports and Year Totals


Have ideas? Please share them with us.

If you love getting out in nature and are interested in leading or co-leading a trip, if you have ideas of where a group could visit, or perhaps if you have a specific species in mind that you would like to see then please contact Burroughs. Direct your inquiry toward the field trip coordinators and they will get in contact with you to see what can be done.

Field trip coordinators Mike Stoakes and Malcolm Gold

(L to R) Mike Stoakes and Malcolm Gold

Alternatively feel free share your ideas with the coordinators the next time you see them in the field. The coordinators are Mike Stoakes and Malcolm Gold.