Scotts Bluff County’s Kiowa Wetlands Wildlife Management Area

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West Nebraska EcologyScotts Bluff County's Kiowa Wetlands Wildlife Management Area

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Western Nebraska’s Scotts Bluff County is a unique area for birding enthusiasts and one site provides birders with several opportunities to view warm-blooded vertebrates. Eastern and western bird species are known to converge in the county with various habitats for these unique beauties.


One popular location to spot the birds is the Kiowa Wetlands Wildlife Management Area. The 540-acre site includes a lake with a grassland habitat for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. The northern part of the WMA is a waterfowl refuge separated by an irrigation canal.

Kiowa WMA’s wetland section is made possible by seepage from the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation Canal, making the space a salt- and freshwater marsh for nesting, resting, and feeding for a variety of birds. The WMA has been designated as a Nebraska Important Bird Area. 

Canada geese nest in the WMA and 20 waterfowl species have been reported, including Gadwalls, northern shovelers, mallards, pintails, and wigeons are found here. Shorebirds, such as American Avocets, Baird’s sandpipers, great egrets, stilt sandpipers, white-rumped sandpipers, Wilson’s phalaropes, and Wilson’s snipe also migrate through the WMA. Black-crowned night herons and white-faced ibis have been spotted nesting at Kiowa State WMA. Northern harriers have made a home here. The nearby prairie dog town is also home to burrowing owls.

During the goose-hunting season, 326 acres are closed to provide a bird refuge. Doves, pheasants, rabbits, and some waterfowl are available for hunters.

Birds can be viewed from an observation deck at the parking area or by walking and hiking around the WMA. There are no facilities or trails. It is advised to take the necessary precautions when exploring the area.

Kiowa Wetlands Wildlife Management Area is located south of Morrill. It is located on the south side of the North Platte river. 

Kiowa WMA derives its name from the Native American tribe known to use the area. It was the first wildlife project by the founders of the Platte River Basin Environment, which sought to preserve and conserve many places in western Nebraska. It continues to receive financial contributions from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Oregon Trail Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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See our Birding in WyoBraska article to learn more about birding and photography.


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The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission manages the Kiowa WMA

Story by: Irene North



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