Great Plains Nature Center

Great Plains Nature Center A Kansas wildlife habitat in the city. Bird watching. Paved hiking trails. Discovery programs. Indoor wildlife observatory. Connecting people with nature.
(131)

The Great Plains Nature Center is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation. We offer experiences that connect people to the environment, wildlife and conservation measures. The adjacent 240-acre Chisholm Creek Park provides our outdoor classroom. More than two miles of wheelchair-accessible trails and boardwalks meander through riparian woodlands, prairies, streams and wetlands. An indoor wildlife observatory lets visitors relax in front of a stream of cattail-ringed wetland, where beaver, muskrat, ducks and graceful egrets make regular appearances.

Operating as usual

I'm hearing a lot about a buzz about Superb Owl Weekend, so I wanted to give a nod to Oskaar, who I think does a FANTAST...
02/05/2021

I'm hearing a lot about a buzz about Superb Owl Weekend, so I wanted to give a nod to Oskaar, who I think does a FANTASTIC job as an animal ambassador. Did you know that screech owls are gearing up for the breeding season around this time of year? I bet you'll soon hear some calling in your neighborhood if you keep an ear out! Also, I...

Ope, hang on. It looks like the buzz is actually about football. Whoops. Oh well, I stand by what I said about Oskaar. Run it back, CHIEFS!

Speaking of unusual animal tracks and traces, I wanted to share one of my favorites- a grasshopper impaled on barbed wir...
02/04/2021

Speaking of unusual animal tracks and traces, I wanted to share one of my favorites- a grasshopper impaled on barbed wire in the Flint Hills. Yikes! Who can tell me what animal left this bizarre little crime scene behind? 🤔

An eagle-eyed staff member spotted this deer hair perfectly caught in a split branch. Have you ever been hiking and snag...
02/04/2021

An eagle-eyed staff member spotted this deer hair perfectly caught in a split branch. Have you ever been hiking and snagged your hair or clothes on a twig? It happens to the best of us! Even creatures that move swiftly and gracefully through the underbrush bump into things.

What's the strangest trace of an animal you've ever found?

02/03/2021
Storytime with Emily!

Join us for Story Time today and learn about the life of a fascinating scientist- Joan Proctor, the Dragon Doctor!

02/01/2021

Everyday feels exactly the same when you're an underappreciated rodent. :(

Make sure to show prairie dogs some love too tomorrow! They are the keystone of the prairie ecosystem!

Just a reminder to the bookworms out there that The Walking Book Club always meets at GPNC at 2:00pm on the first Friday...
02/01/2021

Just a reminder to the bookworms out there that The Walking Book Club always meets at GPNC at 2:00pm on the first Friday of every month! This Friday will cover "Buzz" by Thor Hanson. If you didn't have a chance to read it, no worries! All are welcome to walk and listen to the discussion.

If you're wanting to get started on next month's book, check out "The Home Place" by the wonderful J. Drew Lanham. Hope to see you there!

Enrichment! Our birds weren't impressed with the snow. (She is leashed.)
02/01/2021

Enrichment! Our birds weren't impressed with the snow. (She is leashed.)

Ah, the sunflower. The one Kansas symbol that I couldn't possibly criticize. Perfection. 😌We hope you had a Happy Kansas...
01/30/2021

Ah, the sunflower. The one Kansas symbol that I couldn't possibly criticize. Perfection. 😌

We hope you had a Happy Kansas Day! Make sure you get out and enjoy some Kansas nature this weekend in any way you can!

HONEYBEES. The Kansas State Insect. Very important pollinators, to be sure, and they produce arguably the best-tasting v...
01/29/2021

HONEYBEES. The Kansas State Insect. Very important pollinators, to be sure, and they produce arguably the best-tasting vomit of any animal.
BUT, are they really a Kansas thing? The beloved honeybee only spread to Kansas and the rest of the world thanks to humans.

I submit to you a Lesser-Known Kansas Animal that would make a better state bug: THE COTTONWOOD BORER! If this animal has ever landed on you, your immediate reaction was probably shouting "WHOA, WHAT IS THAT?!" and then frantically looking it up. Perhaps you were fascinated, perhaps you were scarred for life. Not sure! Either way, these giant, black-and-white horned beetles are awe-inspiring. Plus, their primary host plant is already our state tree, so it's perfect! Someone start the petition.

(Photo by Rachel Roth)

Kansas has two State Fossils: The massive marine reptile Tylosaurus, and the incomparable sky monster, Pteranodon. Both ...
01/28/2021

Kansas has two State Fossils: The massive marine reptile Tylosaurus, and the incomparable sky monster, Pteranodon. Both of these harken back to the age of the Western Interior Seaway that buried Kansas beneath 600 feet of water about 90 million years ago. I will say it: These fossils are totally, objectively awesome.

But the critters of the Cretaceous get all the glory, don't they? What about the other Lesser-Known Kansas Animals of yore? For example, the gigantic eleven-foot-tall camel Titanotylopus that would have browsed Kansas plains in large herds during the late Pleistocene! That's HUGE, and way less likely to eat you than a mosasaur. Probably. 👍

(Paleoart by Vlad Konstantinov)

Okay, so maybe their grating honks don't hit the ear as sweetly as a Western Meadowlark's song. But if we're ranking the...
01/28/2021

Okay, so maybe their grating honks don't hit the ear as sweetly as a Western Meadowlark's song. But if we're ranking the STRANGEST bird that's ever made its way to Kansas, I think the Brown Booby might be at the top of that list.

This Lesser-Known Kansas Animal is perhaps becoming a Kansas Animal in real time! These tropical weirdos are true seabirds, and obviously Kansas is short on seas. BUT, birds have wings! They can go anywhere they want! And this bird has made appearances in several midwestern states over the past few years, including KS in 2017 and Missouri in 2020. With the Booby seemingly expanding its range northward as the climate shifts, could these floppy-footed fish-lovers become a perennial Kansas visitor?

Look, I like an ornate box turtle as much as the next person, but our wild Kansas lizards don't get enough love.Looking ...
01/27/2021

Look, I like an ornate box turtle as much as the next person, but our wild Kansas lizards don't get enough love.

Looking to our cold-blooded residents, this Lesser-Known Kansas Animal is the Texas Horned Lizard! Don't let the name fool you, this critter is a Kansas native too, being found all across the southern half of the state. Sure, they all eventually grow into the fearsome, ant-devouring, toxic-skinned dragon of the prairie, capable of launching noxious jets of blood from their eyeballs at would-be canine predators. But hey, they're pretty cute when they're little!

(Photos: Rachel Roth, Dexter Mardis)

Yeah, sure, bison are majestic and amazing and crucial to the ecology of the North American grasslands... but have you e...
01/26/2021

Yeah, sure, bison are majestic and amazing and crucial to the ecology of the North American grasslands... but have you ever seen an Eastern Spotted Skunk do a handstand? I mean, come on.

This Lesser-Known Kansas Animal is the smaller, cuter, and more pungent cousin of the striped skunk! They've been in Kansas since the last Ice Age, but today their habitat is limited to the central and southeast part of the state, leading to state biologists to classify them as "threatened". Speaking of being threatened, that adorable handstand is the move they tend to do right before spraying, so WATCH OUT. 😨

(Photo credits: Bob Gress, Stan Tekiela)

01/26/2021
Porcupine Quills!

Our first Lesser Known Kansas Animal is the porcupine! Many people don't think of this tree-dwelling, extra-stabby rodent when they think of Kansas wildlife, but they can be found across the western 2/3rd's of the state.

Watch Allan & Emily do a quick experiment to show why porcupine quills make such a good defense mechanism!

Since it's Kansas Week, did you know The Owl's Nest gift shop is a great place to find resources on Kansas history, lite...
01/26/2021

Since it's Kansas Week, did you know The Owl's Nest gift shop is a great place to find resources on Kansas history, literature, and so much more?

If you want to get to know your city and state a little better, and would like to support The Great Plains Nature Center, stop by and see Richard this week. He's also got some free Kansas Symbols posters to take home while supplies last!

In honor of our state's 160th birthday this Friday, we're celebrating Kansas Week at Great Plains Nature Center! All wee...
01/25/2021

In honor of our state's 160th birthday this Friday, we're celebrating Kansas Week at Great Plains Nature Center! All week on Facebook, instead of talking only about our famous state symbols, we'll be learning about the LESSER KNOWN Animals of Kansas! Get ready to find out about the neighbors you didn't know you had. 🧐

Also, we'll be offering a special all-ages virtual program this Thursday, 1/28 @ 11:00 am., where you can learn about the resilient critters that have become our state symbols! Registration is limited, so if you're interested, sign up here!: http://bit.ly/3sR6cND

Great Plains Nature Center's cover photo
01/25/2021

Great Plains Nature Center's cover photo

Happy Spider Friday! Spi-Fri? Is that a thing? It is now! #SpiFriTexas Brown Tarantulas prefer to hang out in their silk...
01/22/2021

Happy Spider Friday! Spi-Fri? Is that a thing? It is now! #SpiFri

Texas Brown Tarantulas prefer to hang out in their silk-lined burrows, but they can climb just about anything if needed, even totally vertical, smooth glass! It was thought that tarantulas could spin silk from their feet to make them extra sticky, that is, until scientists got a better look at them under VERY powerful microscopes. It turns out the stickiness is from the dense hairs of their claw tufts, which allow each foot to make as many as FIFTY MILLION points of contact with a surface, creating extreme adhesive power!

01/21/2021
Rare Roo Rendezvous

Oh hey there! The Kangaroo Rat is usually on the exact opposite schedule as the rest of the Nature Center, being truly nocturnal. Always planning ahead and caching food for future snacks, roo rats stash seeds and nuts all over the place throughout the wee small hours of the morning.
Naturalist Emily caught the roo still working hard at 8:30am! Jeez, take a break, little friend!

01/20/2021

Storytime with Lori!

BIG game in the office today! Our director Marc Murrell will score any trophy you bring him, but he doesn't often see a ...
01/19/2021

BIG game in the office today! Our director Marc Murrell will score any trophy you bring him, but he doesn't often see a moose come through the door. This is a Shiras moose (the smallest of the three subspecies of moose in North America), but it's still sporting a whopping FORTY POUNDS of antlers up top. You can see what this looks like side-by-side with a whitetail for comparison.

Note: This moose wasn't from KS, but they can very rarely wander into the state. In fact, Kansas had a confirmed moose in 2019- a sight that hadn't been seen inside our borders since 1989!

01/17/2021

REMINDER: The Great Plains Nature Center will be closed Monday, January 18th, 2021 in honor of Martin Luther King Day. We will re-open at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 19th.

01/15/2021
What's that sound?

I always hear discreet rustling of tiny critters in the tallgrass when I'm hiking, but I am rarely lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them before they disappear. Maybe I need to stop galumphing down the trail like Bigfoot?

GPNC Staff Cassie is much quieter, and managed not to scare away this little rodent nibbling a tasty something. Tread silently out there this weekend, and see what else you can find!

Have you ever noticed that winter sunsets seem to have their own unique character? According to NOAA, there's a reason f...
01/14/2021

Have you ever noticed that winter sunsets seem to have their own unique character? According to NOAA, there's a reason for that: The cooler winter air doesn't hold on to many atmospheric particulates, like water droplets, dust, or aerosol pollutants (smog). So, we end up with sharper, more vibrant colors and less haze.

There are some great spots along Chisholm Creek to see a winter sunset and some whitetails all at once!

If you're like us, and you're trying to read more in 2021, then the Wichita Public Library's #ReadICT Reading Challenge ...
01/13/2021

If you're like us, and you're trying to read more in 2021, then the Wichita Public Library's #ReadICT Reading Challenge is a great way to get started. Since "a book about animals or pets" was one of the categories this year (something we know a little bit about 😁) our naturalists wanted to offer up their recommendations!

If you've got some recommendations of your own, let us know in the comments! Don't forget you can stop by and Read with the Animals all month long. Also, if your other New Year's resolution is to get outside more, check out our Walking Book Club!

01/13/2021

Storytime at the Great Plains Nature Center!

Join Amanda as she reads Copy Me, Copy Cub!

The ornate box turtle babies recently got a big upgrade in space because, well, they're more like box turtle teenagers a...
01/12/2021

The ornate box turtle babies recently got a big upgrade in space because, well, they're more like box turtle teenagers at this point. With so much extra room and lots of comfy places to burrow down, we aren't seeing as much of them lately. Thankfully, they still pop up every once in a while to let us know they're around! 👋

01/11/2021
How's this for camouflage?

WHOA. How's this for camouflage? This humpback orbweaver was practically invisible crouching on the rail of this bridge, almost like a little bump on the wood. That greenish gray color pattern would help it disappear completely against the lichen of a bare winter tree!

Ahh, like the halfglobe mushroom that springs up out of the bison patty, you are rising above the mess that was 2020. Co...
01/08/2021

Ahh, like the halfglobe mushroom that springs up out of the bison patty, you are rising above the mess that was 2020.

Congrats on making it through the first week of the new year! 🥳

(Photo credit: Chris Hay)

01/08/2021
Mealtime for the Cinnamons

There's always plenty of food to go around at the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit, but things can still get a little competitive at mealtime. These two male cinnamon teals are doing their "head-pumping" display to mark their territory at the food bowl. Take a listen! It's VERY intimidating.

Congratulations to our 2020 Volunteers of the Year, Lorrie Beck and Bridget Russell!!!Lorrie has dedicated countless hou...
01/07/2021

Congratulations to our 2020 Volunteers of the Year, Lorrie Beck and Bridget Russell!!!

Lorrie has dedicated countless hours to nature education and habitat restoration. When she's not helping us with events or providing programs for people living in senior care, she can be found in the park with the TEERS crew waging war against the invasive plants that threaten to overtake our restored prairies! Lorrie's leadership as a volunteer helps to keep the park thriving.

Bridget has been a steadfast volunteer for more than four years now! In addition to assisting with programs and events, she's been a reliable member of our animal care team, helping to provide high-quality care to our lovely animal ambassadors every single week. Bridget's compassion, conscientiousness, and personality always brighten our days at the Nature Center.

THANK YOU to Lorrie, Bridget, and all of our volunteers for everything that you help us to accomplish. We're looking forward a great 2021!

How did I not know that there are predatory fungi in Kansas soils that snare and eat nematode worms with tiny, constrict...
01/07/2021

How did I not know that there are predatory fungi in Kansas soils that snare and eat nematode worms with tiny, constricting loops of hyphae?! What other secrets is the soil keeping from us? Time to go look at some dirt.

Though our resident fungus expert Lyndzee is leaving, she's obviously going to keep getting a lot of questions from us.

We've had some recent staff changes. We'd like to thank Rachel Roth and Lyndzee Rhine for their years at GPNC. They will...
01/06/2021

We've had some recent staff changes. We'd like to thank Rachel Roth and Lyndzee Rhine for their years at GPNC. They will both be greatly missed but we know they'll continue to do great things in the name of outdoor education. Best of luck to both of them!

Pictured: Lyndzee and Rachel as their alter egos, Flora and Fauna

01/06/2021

Story Time!

Hey, wait, don't leaf! Hang around with Allan to read "Have You Seen Trees". :)

Address

6232 E 29th St N
Wichita, KS
67220

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 16:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 16:00
Thursday 09:00 - 16:00
Friday 09:00 - 16:00
Saturday 09:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(316) 683-5499

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Great Plains Nature Center posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Great Plains Nature Center:

Videos

Category

Our Story

The Great Plains Nature Center is a free facility that is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation and Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center. We offer experiences that connect people to the environment, wildlife and conservation measures. The adjacent 240-acre Chisholm Creek Park provides our outdoor classroom. More than two miles of wheelchair-accessible trails and boardwalks meander through riparian woodlands, prairies, streams and wetlands. An indoor wildlife observatory lets visitors relax in front of a stream of cattail-ringed wetland, where beaver, muskrat, ducks and graceful egrets make regular appearances.

Nearby museums


Comments

I enjoy Great Plains Nature Center. Always something to see!
Day 12: Recycle #inktoberonthetrail
Day 10: Body of Water Victoria amazonica #inktoberonthetrail
Playing catch up tonight. Day 5: SCALES Ceroplastes #inktoberonthetrail
#inktoberonthetrail Day7: CRISP
Can anyone tell me what flowers are blooming at the nature center now? I saw some very tall yellow ones near the water; purple ones, green ones with a purple star center. Thank you.
What was this little guy I found in front of my garage door (East of McConnell AFB a bit)
Can anyone there tell me what kind of a toad this is? It was inside a plant on the east side of Wichita.
This question is for Rachael. We have driven out of town three times now. Once to Cheney and twice to Mulvane. Something very important has been missing in the Sky and on the fences. Birds. I mean birds. Not a hawk. Not a sparrow. Nothing. Where are they? I have never not seen anything like this before and I know my birds. Any ideas?
This is stuck in my window well. What is it? How should I get it out?
Does anyone know if we are able to walk the trails today even though the center is closed on Sundays?
I am so glad for the resources y'all provide. My son likes to get the pocket books when we come. We took the butterfly one to Monarch Mania this past season. And today, I used the Back Yard Bird pocket guide to identify some Dark-Eyed Junco birds that have been visiting my yard the past couple days. Thank you for being a great educational and resourceful place for my family 💚