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Rally Offers Fun Glimpse Into Migratory Bird Life

GREAT BEND – Fly over to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center’s (KWEC) Great Migration Rally from 2-7 p.m. on April 29 to learn about the adventurous, and sometimes treacherous, life of migratory birds. KWEC is located at 592 NE K156 Highway on the southeastern portion of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area just 7 miles northeast of Great Bend.

Starting at KWEC, visitors will choose a card featuring a migratory bird worth points for prizes. They will then set off on their “migration,” driving through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and The Nature Conservancy’s Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, visiting various stations along the way. At each stop, participants will receive situational cards, describing hazards or advantages encountered by “their” bird that either subtract or add points to their total. Several area businesses, artists and organizations have generously donated great prizes for those who successfully migrate the furthest with the highest points total.

“It’s an event to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day,” said Curtis Wolf, KWEC manager. “The concept is to provide information about hazards birds face during migration with a fun and entertaining approach.”

This year’s Rally features a “Predator of Prey” show by Milford Nature Center (MNC). In addition to “Lurch,” the turkey vulture, MNC director Pat Silovsky will bring hawks, owls and falcons, and share their fascinating stories.

Top prizes for adults include a WASPcam action-sport camera and binoculars, and two-person tents, binoculars and a fishing kit for the top-scoring kids. Additional prizes include tent chairs, artwork, lanterns, headlamps, gift certificates from area businesses, and more.

Attendees can also stop by the Fort Hays State University Maker Van, where they can make a sled kite; solve an egg match while learning about bird eggs in art with Ukranian egg artist, Christine Slechta; make crafts; and get a bird “tattoo,” as well as other fun activities.

Two stops along the tour will allow visitors to use binoculars and spotting scopes to view migrating birds and discover the food they eat at a sampling station. Saints Peter and Paul Church will open for tours as the third stop on the “migration.” And at the migration destination, Camp Aldrich, participants can enjoy a barbecue pork supper before prizes are awarded.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 5-12, and free for children under age 5. Pre-register is required by April 23 and can be completed online at wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu, or by calling the KWEC at 1-877-243-9268.

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