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Nesting at Tallgrass Creek

Early birds enjoy nature at its best

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July 19th, 2016
Mike Stoakes (left) of the Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City watches intently along with Tallgrass Creek residents Bill (center) and Frances Lynn for different birds that make their home on the community’s 65-acre campus.

Mike Stoakes (left) of the Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City watches intently along with Tallgrass Creek residents Bill (center) and Frances Lynn for different birds that make their home on the community’s 65-acre campus.

The weather and the birds cooperated earlier this year when about 25 Tallgrass Creek neighbors took advantage of a special outing hosted by the community’s Nature Club. Bird watching enthusiasts Mike and Elizabeth Stoakes from the Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City led the group from Overland Park, Kans., on an early morning bird walk that wound through Tallgrass Creek’s wooded campus. 

The Stoakes are both past presidents and longtime volunteers of the Burroughs Audubon Society. They lead about a dozen bird-watching field trips a year around the metro area. 

“The Kansas City area is a natural convergence of different habitats, and Tallgrass Creek’s campus with its wooded areas and natural grasses is very representative of that,” says Elizabeth. “It makes a great stopping-off spot for migratory birds as well as a natural habitat for others.”

Busy, boisterous birds   

With the Stoakes’s help, bird watchers saw and identified about 35 different species of birds on their one-hour trek. They listened intently at times as birds such as barn swallows, eastern phoebes, yellow warblers, sandpipers, brown-headed cow birds, brown thrashers, woodpeckers, and tree swallows sang and called to each other. 

The birds resting in trees occasionally responded to a sound Elizabeth Stoakes made, known as pishing. A well-known sound among bird watchers, pishing is a raspy, repetitive sound that can attract curious birds.

The bird watch is one of several experiences Tallgrass Creek Nature Club participants enjoy each year. The group travels to different destinations such as Squaw Creek National Wildlife Preserve located 100 miles north of the Erickson Living communigy.The 350-acre refuge is a resting, feeding, and breeding ground for migratory birds. 

The resident-driven club also sponsors outside speakers who discuss conservation, climate change, local ecosystems, and other nature-oriented topics. The group meets the first Tuesday morning of each month in the community’s Sunflower Room. 

Nearby nature 

Additionally, the Nature Club sponsors occasional outings where residents view and identify the many natural grasses and wildflowers that dot the 65-acre campus. 

Tallgrass Creek’s campus was recognized several years ago by the Natural Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. In addition to many species of birds, the campus attracts squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, and deer. To be certified, Tallgrass Creek’s campus provides four essential elements for wildlife: food, water, cover, and places to raise young. 

Since moving to Tallgrass Creek, Rich Brown is among many residents who often stroll the sidewalks and foot bridges of the naturally wooded campus. Benches are stationed along the way so walkers can enjoy wildflowers, natural grasses, and native trees while resting.

“One of the reasons we moved here was because of the natural beauty of the campus,” says Rich, who enjoys bird watching as a hobby. “We enjoy walking around the area, listening and watching nature in all its various forms.” 

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