Geological forces formed this 41,000-acre natural land sink more than 65 million years ago. The bottoms now reflect years of human action. Nine man-made pools cover nearly 700-acres and 50% of the bottoms is privately owned. It is used for planting crops of wheat, milo, and alfalfa. The overall number of shorebirds and their peak migration vary from year to year depending on the availability of mudflats, which are the perfect habitat for shorebirds. Fluctuations in rainfall promote the generating of insects such as the bloodworms (known for their bright red color). These magnetize the hungry shorebirds in to the marsh. Shorebirds began a long decline in the 70ís when the marsh began to suffer from water shortages, which in turn led to the loss of mudflats.
A change came in 1992 when there was a court order to cut back on irrigation to allow more water to flow into the Cheyenne Bottoms. The reoccurrence of mudflats in the Cheyenne Bottoms is helping to bring back the shorebird travelers. Hopefully they will come to be as many travelers as there used to be.
Helen Hands: Shorebird Odyssey: Kansas Travelers: Natural
History: May 1998
Volume: 107 no. 4; Pages: 54-55