Pratt Education Center
Admission is Free!
The emphasis of the Pratt Education Center is to discover the wildlife of Kansas. Numerous displays, dioramas, and exhibits provide close encounters with the native birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles of Kansas.
Our "winter" diorama provides a glimpse of how wildlife deals with the snow and cold of Kansas winters.
The grassland display depicts the three grasslands (short, mixed and tall) of Kansas and wildlife common to each region; including a rare black-footed ferret. Our raptor exhibit features owls, hawks, falcons, and kites; all with hooked beaks and sharp talons. The wetland wall display includes Cheyenne Bottoms, one of the five most important wetlands in North America.
The Aquarium Room contains twelve, 400-600 gallon aquariums; each displaying fish species native to Kansas or that have been successfully introduced into Kansas. On the east wall are two wall panels. One featuring the early history of the Pratt Hatchery. The other features the catfish rearing program along with a working model of Seth Way's ingenious incubating trough. Over one hundred and twenty-eight species of birds and their eggs
are displayed in the Bird Room. Across from this room you can enjoy duplicating the tracks of Kansas animals using the vinyl Replica tracks. Also, numerous interactive exhibits will test your knowledge of Kansas wildlife.
Starting in 1915, this building served as the first administration headquarters for the Kansas Fish and Game Commission. The first floor always served as an exhibit center for the general public. In 1966, the building was completely converted to an education center. A renovation of the building was completed in 1990.
Kansas is an excellent state for the bird watcher. Not only is the year round population of resident birds remarkable but the migratory species can add great delight. Bird watching can be as passive as installing a backyard feeder in that ideal window viewing location. Bird watching can also be a lifetime pursuit or passion, investing time and money traveling and documenting all the different species observed. Kansas offers both. The backyard viewer may lure many a neighborhood bird to the feeder with a commercial feed seed mix or suet feeder. While the more dedicated viewer might choose to custom mix that special feed to lure the unusual birds. The wildlife supply market for both the amateur viewer and the dedicated is extensive. Retailers, wholesalers and even the entrepreneurs are out there to supply your every need. Whether shopping in town, out of town or on the internet, you are sure to find what you want.
Kansas has excellent bird watching sites available. Cheyenne Bottoms, located near Great Bend and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, located near Stafford, are wonderful sites for viewing migratory birds, during the spring and fall. Rare birds such as the Whooping Crane are known to make stops at Quivira on their flights from Canada to South Texas and back. A drive in the country might be very rewarding for spotting game birds or waterfowl species, with the surprise of other wildlife sightings also.
The list of birds over-wintering in Kansas seems to change on a year to year basis and sometimes week to week or day to day. A flock of Robins for example might congregate in your yard one week and not be seen for weeks after. This could depend on impending weather changes or just another feeding spot. Bluebirds may well surprise you too. They might just show up when you least expect them.
Bird watching is not just limited to the feeder. A specialized bird house or nesting box might just be the calling card to bring resident birds to a year long viewing site, your backyard.
Many birding-related brochures, including "how to build" feeders, houses and nesting boxes can be found here in the Museum/Education Center, along with mounted birds, narratives and an egg display. Those of you who wish to have a good field guide, I recommend "The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots" written by Bob Gress and Pete Janzen, published by the University Press of Kansas. This book, along with many other books, shirts, caps and unusual gift ideas are available in the outdoor store, located across the street from the museum at the Pratt administrative office.
Coming through the Pratt area? Stop by and see our museum and aquariums. Admission is FREE.
KDWPT Education Center,
Museum and Aquariums
531 SE 25th Avenue, Pratt, Kansas 67124