About the Refuge

Whooper 2 bands cropped 512


"Grass and sky would be enough. With only those, the summer prairie would be a smiling, running spread of cloud shadow and wind pattern. But....sometimes as secret and solitary as jewels, and often in broad painted fields, the prairie flowers come on......" John Madsen, Where the Sky Began 

Where prairie and wing touch the Kansas sky...

The primary purpose of Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge ( NWR) is to conserve, maintain, and manage wildlife and habitat for migratory birds. The 10,778 acre Kirwin NWR is located in the rolling hills and narrow valley of the North Fork of the Solomon River in north-central Kansas. The Refuge lies in an area where the tall grass prairies of the east meet the short grass plains of the west. As a result of this merging of prairies and plains, grasses and wildlife common to both habitats are found on the Refuge. Over 10,000 migrating waterfowl can be seen on the Refuge during fall through early winter.  Other migratory birds, including the endangered whooping crane pictured above, can be found on the Refuge.


Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge consists of 10,778 acres, supports diverse wildlife habitat including:

  • grasslands
  • wooded riparian zones
  • shorelines
  • open water
  • wetlands
  • croplands

The purpose of the Refuge is the conservation of wildlife resources with an emphasis on migratory birds. The Refuge provides food, shelter, and nesting areas for migratory birds such as:

  • grassland dependents
  • tree-dwelling neotropicals
  • waterfowl
  • shorebirds

Depending on reservoir water levels, Refuge staff use a variety of wildlife habitat management practices to provide optimum habitat for wildlife. Crops such as corn, wheat, and milo are grown through a cooperative farming program. A portion of the crop is left in the field to provide food for migrating waterfowl and resident wildlife. Other habitat management tools include grazing, brush control, haying, mowing, and controlled burning.

Prohibited Activities: To minimize disturbance to wildlife and to comply with Federal laws, policies and regulations, these activities are prohibited on the Refuge

  • Camping
  • Fires
  • Water skiing
  • Personal watercraft (jet skis)
  • Speed boating
  • Swimming
  • Collecting plants, animals (including antlers), or historical artifacts
  • Fireworks
  • Dogs and other pets must be on a leash or under the owner's immediate control. Free roaming pets are prohibited.
  • Littering
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Intoxication
  • Commercial use (including guiding)