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.

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

Hold up, the earliest grasses only evolved 107 million years ago? And weren't even widespread until well after the dinos...
05/14/2021

Hold up, the earliest grasses only evolved 107 million years ago? And weren't even widespread until well after the dinosaurs went extinct? This is grass we're talking about here, you know, the star player in Great Plains ecology. I guess I assumed there had pretty much always been grass, didn't you?

But wait there's more! This means that mammals (at least 178 mya) are much older than grass. GRASS. Okay, I need to go lay down, this is a lot to process. 🤯

(Jurmaia sinensis paleoart by Aleksey Malitsky

Hold up, the earliest grasses only evolved 107 million years ago? And weren't even widespread until well after the dinosaurs went extinct? This is grass we're talking about here, you know, the star player in Great Plains ecology. I guess I assumed there had pretty much always been grass, didn't you?

But wait there's more! This means that mammals (at least 178 mya) are much older than grass. GRASS. Okay, I need to go lay down, this is a lot to process. 🤯

(Jurmaia sinensis paleoart by Aleksey Malitsky

Give it up for the Northern Grasshopper Mouse, who, when posed with a high-stress environment, adapted to become an aggr...
05/12/2021

Give it up for the Northern Grasshopper Mouse, who, when posed with a high-stress environment, adapted to become an aggressive carnivore that fearlessly wrestles dangerous prey, shrugs off scorpion stings, and howls at the moon like a tiny werewolf.

You are my mouse-piration. 🙌

(Photo by Ashlee Rowe)

Give it up for the Northern Grasshopper Mouse, who, when posed with a high-stress environment, adapted to become an aggressive carnivore that fearlessly wrestles dangerous prey, shrugs off scorpion stings, and howls at the moon like a tiny werewolf.

You are my mouse-piration. 🙌

(Photo by Ashlee Rowe)

05/12/2021
Storytime @ GPNC! (Bird Songs w/ Deb)

Hear that beautiful chorus outside your window? What could it be? Deb reads a book about bird songs this morning, with some help from local birds in the background.

05/11/2021
Mountain lion sighting in Wichita, Kansas

WHOA. This is definitely not your standard backyard critter for Kansas. As alarming as it is to imagine a cougar trotting past your house, it's important to remember that this is a very atypical sighting. Mountain lions are generally transient in Kansas, and a city like Wichita doesn't offer much in the way of a decent habitat or prey base for a big carnivore like this. Poor guy must have taken a wrong turn or two.

That said, this is your daily reminder that all sorts of wild stuff roams around at night, so bring those pets indoors when the sun goes down!

Do you hate wasps? Haha! Of course you do! BUT, what if I told you (and you might not want to hear this)… they are bette...
05/06/2021

Do you hate wasps? Haha! Of course you do! BUT, what if I told you (and you might not want to hear this)… they are better for the ecosystem than honeybees?

A new article pulled together close to 400 studies on the ecosystem services of aculeate wasps (AKA the stinging ones) to show that many common species of wasp are as useful to their environment as bees, often in unexpected ways. For example, paper wasps do everything from controlling pesky insects and pollinating plants to dispersing seeds and even serving as an indicator of lead contamination in an environment. All this, plus the benefit of not outcompeting native insects!

Not too shabby. Something to consider this summer before grabbing the can of Raid and nuking every wasp in sight.

(Wasps inside the house though... yeah, that's still a no from me.)

🔝 APRIL'S MOST VIEWED ARTICLE! 🥇👏
Ecosystem services provided by aculeate wasps

Biological Reviews
Download PDF 👉https://bit.ly/3eCNC5y

We received a WONDERFUL gift for Teacher Appreciation Week from a young learner who is not yet in school, but is a regul...
05/05/2021

We received a WONDERFUL gift for Teacher Appreciation Week from a young learner who is not yet in school, but is a regular at our children's programs! Thank you for the cookies, but more importantly, thanks for brightening our day. 😊

We'd like to give a big shout-out of our own to all of the teachers and environmental educators out there working to connect kids with the outdoors! (We'd give you all cookies if we could.)

We received a WONDERFUL gift for Teacher Appreciation Week from a young learner who is not yet in school, but is a regular at our children's programs! Thank you for the cookies, but more importantly, thanks for brightening our day. 😊

We'd like to give a big shout-out of our own to all of the teachers and environmental educators out there working to connect kids with the outdoors! (We'd give you all cookies if we could.)

05/05/2021
CritterTales @ GPNC (Hey Diddle Diddle)

Time for a rhyme! Erika reads "Hey Diddle Diddle" as a trip up the food chain in this week's CritterTale.

Remember, CritterTales will be back in-person starting Wednesday, June 2nd @ 10am!

Great Plains Nature Center is thrilled to announce that all of our weekly children's programs will be back in-person thi...
05/04/2021

Great Plains Nature Center is thrilled to announce that all of our weekly children's programs will be back in-person this summer! Our staff and volunteers are VERY excited to welcome you all back. Let's learn, play, and explore nature together! 🥳

Check out our Weekly Children's Programs on our events page or follow the links below:

Mondays @ 11am- CREATURE FEATURE (starting June 7th)
https://fb.me/e/1qPTFrnQI

Tuesdays @ 10am- Naturally Crafty!
https://fb.me/e/2coGCzWaY

Wednesdays @ 10am- Critter Tales Storytime! (starting June 2nd)
https://fb.me/e/1o7VH8iNf

Thursdays @10am- Outdoor Play w/ Deb & Friends
https://fb.me/e/16UARWCN1

Great Plains Nature Center is thrilled to announce that all of our weekly children's programs will be back in-person this summer! Our staff and volunteers are VERY excited to welcome you all back. Let's learn, play, and explore nature together! 🥳

Check out our Weekly Children's Programs on our events page or follow the links below:

Mondays @ 11am- CREATURE FEATURE (starting June 7th)
https://fb.me/e/1qPTFrnQI

Tuesdays @ 10am- Naturally Crafty!
https://fb.me/e/2coGCzWaY

Wednesdays @ 10am- Critter Tales Storytime! (starting June 2nd)
https://fb.me/e/1o7VH8iNf

Thursdays @10am- Outdoor Play w/ Deb & Friends
https://fb.me/e/16UARWCN1

An open letter to the goose nesting by the hose in the back of the building:Dear Hose Goose,I hope you don't take this l...
04/30/2021

An open letter to the goose nesting by the hose in the back of the building:

Dear Hose Goose,

I hope you don't take this letter as criticism, I would never criticize the most feared bird on these Great Plains. I am only seeking to understand you. For instance, what made you pick this spot? Is the hose somehow comforting to you? Do you enjoy being on a small patch of dirt, surrounded by concrete on three sides and a brick wall? Did you know your nest is in a 200+ acre park full of serene Kansas habitat, yet you chose to hunker down 10 feet from a dumpster and an air-conditioning unit?

I trust your judgment, Hose Goose- I'm sure we'll see oodles of your fluffy goslings ambling around the nature center any time now. I just don't understand you.

Best Wishes,
The Great Plains Nature Center

An open letter to the goose nesting by the hose in the back of the building:

Dear Hose Goose,

I hope you don't take this letter as criticism, I would never criticize the most feared bird on these Great Plains. I am only seeking to understand you. For instance, what made you pick this spot? Is the hose somehow comforting to you? Do you enjoy being on a small patch of dirt, surrounded by concrete on three sides and a brick wall? Did you know your nest is in a 200+ acre park full of serene Kansas habitat, yet you chose to hunker down 10 feet from a dumpster and an air-conditioning unit?

I trust your judgment, Hose Goose- I'm sure we'll see oodles of your fluffy goslings ambling around the nature center any time now. I just don't understand you.

Best Wishes,
The Great Plains Nature Center

Hey! This toad wants to take you on a virtual field trip. Last chance to learn about life cycles with your GPNC naturali...
04/29/2021

Hey! This toad wants to take you on a virtual field trip. Last chance to learn about life cycles with your GPNC naturalists!

RSVP to this event on the event page (https://fb.me/e/25QgPISA6) or join us here on Facebook live tomorrow, 4/30 @ 11:00am!

Hey! This toad wants to take you on a virtual field trip. Last chance to learn about life cycles with your GPNC naturalists!

RSVP to this event on the event page (https://fb.me/e/25QgPISA6) or join us here on Facebook live tomorrow, 4/30 @ 11:00am!

GPNC Wildlife Photography Tips:For Great Blue Herons,DO- Shoot them in profile. MAJESTIC. 😍DO NOT- Shoot them from ANY o...
04/28/2021

GPNC Wildlife Photography Tips:

For Great Blue Herons,

DO- Shoot them in profile. MAJESTIC. 😍
DO NOT- Shoot them from ANY other angle. It's, uh, not great. 😬

04/28/2021
CritterTales @ GPNC! (A Place for Frogs)

Have you heard the frogs singing this spring? Do you know where to look for them? Answer these questions and more as Emily as she tells you all about some of the world's many fantastic frogs!

Shout out to all of the volunteers who pitched in to make last weekend's Spring Work Day a success! We had a lot of firs...
04/27/2021

Shout out to all of the volunteers who pitched in to make last weekend's Spring Work Day a success! We had a lot of first-time volunteers join, as well as a team of WSU students to help tackle a TON of work! We hauled trash out of the park, prepped the native flower beds, and chopped down a whole pile of invasive Siberian elms! Big thanks to everyone who helped make our habitats a little healthier. 😊

Join us this Friday @ 11:00am for this month's virtual field trip! Naturalists Emily & Allan will be looking at the unus...
04/26/2021
Life Cycles with the Great Plains Nature Center

Join us this Friday @ 11:00am for this month's virtual field trip! Naturalists Emily & Allan will be looking at the unusual life cycles found across the animal world! You can either join on FB live or get a Zoom link to this event by RSVP'ing here: https://bit.ly/3xtpaw3.

This program is free and open to all ages, but would be perfect for kids in early elementary (K-3)!

Learn about the amazing life cycles of animals and plants on this fun virtual field trip!

04/23/2021
Enter the Rhizosphere!: The Soil Ecosystem

As an end to our Soil Stories week, join Naturalist Allan as he goes spelunking in the tiny tunnels of the rhizosphere with all of the odd critters that call it home!

Some of the most soil-loving organisms tend be pretty elusive. Most people aren't going to run across them unless they s...
04/21/2021

Some of the most soil-loving organisms tend be pretty elusive. Most people aren't going to run across them unless they spend a lot of time with their hands in the dirt, and that's exactly how creatures like this Rough Earthsnake prefer it. As a fossorial (burrowing) reptile found primarily in southeast Kansas, it's very secretive snake, biding its time buried amid the organic material at the soil surface and seeking out its favored prey of earthworms and snails.

If we don't turn our eyes dirt-ward every once in a while, who knows what else we're missing?

(Photo credit: Dexter Mardis)

Some of the most soil-loving organisms tend be pretty elusive. Most people aren't going to run across them unless they spend a lot of time with their hands in the dirt, and that's exactly how creatures like this Rough Earthsnake prefer it. As a fossorial (burrowing) reptile found primarily in southeast Kansas, it's very secretive snake, biding its time buried amid the organic material at the soil surface and seeking out its favored prey of earthworms and snails.

If we don't turn our eyes dirt-ward every once in a while, who knows what else we're missing?

(Photo credit: Dexter Mardis)

A new StoryWalk is up in Chisholm Creek Park! Come discover the "Dirt: the Scoop on Soil" now up in English and Spanish....
04/21/2021

A new StoryWalk is up in Chisholm Creek Park! Come discover the "Dirt: the Scoop on Soil" now up in English and Spanish. What is dirt? What's it made of? Why do we need it? Hit the Quail Trail this lovely afternoon and find out!

A new StoryWalk is up in Chisholm Creek Park! Come discover the "Dirt: the Scoop on Soil" now up in English and Spanish. What is dirt? What's it made of? Why do we need it? Hit the Quail Trail this lovely afternoon and find out!

04/21/2021
CritterTales @ GPNC (Earth Day Edition)

In today's CritterTale, Deb reads us the story of a secret place, hidden from all the hustle and bustle of the big city, where lots of things can live and grow. Perhaps you know of a place like this where you live?

Find out about why we need to protect even the smallest green spaces on our beautiful planet in this Earth Day edition of Story Time!

Also, remember that CritterTales will be going back to an in-person activity on Wednesdays @ 10a.m. beginning June 2nd!

I'll never ceased to be amazed by how much of the prairie lies below the soil. For all the majesty of a tallgrass ocean,...
04/20/2021

I'll never ceased to be amazed by how much of the prairie lies below the soil. For all the majesty of a tallgrass ocean, there's even more that we don't see.

With any tallgrass species, it's important to remember that 60-80% of the plant is beneath the surface, protected from drought and fire deep within the ground. For Big Bluestem like this, the roots may dive down 8 feet or more! (One 5'2" Erika included here for scale 😄)

I'll never ceased to be amazed by how much of the prairie lies below the soil. For all the majesty of a tallgrass ocean, there's even more that we don't see.

With any tallgrass species, it's important to remember that 60-80% of the plant is beneath the surface, protected from drought and fire deep within the ground. For Big Bluestem like this, the roots may dive down 8 feet or more! (One 5'2" Erika included here for scale 😄)

Ah, of course something weird has to happen weather-wise in April. Due to chilly temps (and what's hopefully our last fr...
04/20/2021

Ah, of course something weird has to happen weather-wise in April. Due to chilly temps (and what's hopefully our last frost), Naturally Crafty is canceled this morning. No worries, it will be back next week!

Outdoor Play is still a go for Thursday. If you can't make it this time, here's what Deb has planned for the upcoming weeks!:

Thursday, April 29th - See Like a Hawk (Using Binoculars)
Thursday, May 6th - Can you catch a fish? (Casting)
Thursday, May 13th - Build a Sunflower House

Ah, of course something weird has to happen weather-wise in April. Due to chilly temps (and what's hopefully our last frost), Naturally Crafty is canceled this morning. No worries, it will be back next week!

Outdoor Play is still a go for Thursday. If you can't make it this time, here's what Deb has planned for the upcoming weeks!:

Thursday, April 29th - See Like a Hawk (Using Binoculars)
Thursday, May 6th - Can you catch a fish? (Casting)
Thursday, May 13th - Build a Sunflower House

Another day, another wildlife rescue at KWE! With Earth Day next week, it's a perfect time to be mindful of our impacts ...
04/16/2021

Another day, another wildlife rescue at KWE! With Earth Day next week, it's a perfect time to be mindful of our impacts on the wildlife around us. What may seem like an insignificant piece of litter can end up having a disastrous effect on an animal's quality of life. As always, we ask visitors to our community's many outdoor spaces to be mindful of Leave No Trace principles.

When you head outside this beautiful weekend, leave only footprints and take only memories!

Since we're getting into baby animal season and there's about to be unbelievably tiny birds and bunnies everywhere, we w...
04/15/2021

Since we're getting into baby animal season and there's about to be unbelievably tiny birds and bunnies everywhere, we wanted to share this handy flowchart to help you decide if and when a baby animal might need your help! We all have a strong instinct to try and give little critters a helping hand when we can, but thanks to the natural resiliency of animals, our help often isn't necessary. Sometimes the best thing you can do is give that animal space!

Since we're getting into baby animal season and there's about to be unbelievably tiny birds and bunnies everywhere, we wanted to share this handy flowchart to help you decide if and when a baby animal might need your help! We all have a strong instinct to try and give little critters a helping hand when we can, but thanks to the natural resiliency of animals, our help often isn't necessary. Sometimes the best thing you can do is give that animal space!

FACT: I have never seen a sphinx moth that I didn't want to tell someone about right away. And guess what? I saw a sphin...
04/14/2021

FACT: I have never seen a sphinx moth that I didn't want to tell someone about right away. And guess what? I saw a sphinx moth!

This Nessus Sphinx Moth (Amphion floridensis) was just hanging out in my front yard today. Why my yard? Maybe it had something to do with all this neat creeping phlox blooming out front, a perfect food source for a super cool moth like this guy.

So, just a reminder, when you plant stuff this month, PLANT NATIVE!!! Check out Kansas Wildlife Federation, Inc.'s Wildlife Habitat Week for some landscape planning resources, or our friends at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains for more info on where and how to plant native wildflowers!

FACT: I have never seen a sphinx moth that I didn't want to tell someone about right away. And guess what? I saw a sphinx moth!

This Nessus Sphinx Moth (Amphion floridensis) was just hanging out in my front yard today. Why my yard? Maybe it had something to do with all this neat creeping phlox blooming out front, a perfect food source for a super cool moth like this guy.

So, just a reminder, when you plant stuff this month, PLANT NATIVE!!! Check out Kansas Wildlife Federation, Inc.'s Wildlife Habitat Week for some landscape planning resources, or our friends at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains for more info on where and how to plant native wildflowers!

04/14/2021
Story Time @ GPNC (Falcon Edition!)

Sometimes, animals get injured or orphaned and need a little help from animal rehabilitators to get on the move again! Deb reads the story of one Peregrine falcon named Fidget, and her journey to take flight in the wild again.

Giving some love to an animal that doesn't get a lot of attention on our page: the Great Plains rat snake! This little g...
04/12/2021

Giving some love to an animal that doesn't get a lot of attention on our page: the Great Plains rat snake! This little guy has been with GPNC for a while now, but he hasn't always been the easiest to handle. In fact, an approaching hand would often be met with some very tense body-language and a tail-tapping rattlesnake impression (pretty intimidating, really). However, once he gets picked up, he's very calm and eager to explore.

Since a few of his irregular spots resemble a certain famous mouse, we call him Mickey, and we hope you'll get to see more of him soon!

Address

6232 E 29th St N
Wichita, KS
67220

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(316) 683-5499

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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.

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Comments

Some beautiful shots from my visit today
I’m grateful you are still requiring masks!
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?