NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Up To Date

Band & Choir Pandemic Adjustments | Kansas' Disappearing Birds

Keith Evans
KCUR 89.3
Bird watchers in Kansas have for years reported a steady decrease in bird populations

Choir and band teachers make adjustments for students during the pandemic, and bird populations are dropping in Kansas, Missouri and the rest of the country.

Segment 1, beginning at 3:56: Middle and high school fine arts programs are grappling with coronavirus risk and safety.

Social distancing, mask protocols, and programming changes are all being implemented to accommodate the safety of band and choir students this fall. “There is a certain amount of responsibility you have regardless of what the climate is," choir director Brian Hartman said.

Segment 2, beginning at 33:58: The U.S. has lost 3 billion birds since the 1970s. Kansas has seen the decline of key species.

Birders and farmers have for years reported seeing fewer and fewer birds, but what's to blame for the decrease? Climate change, wind turbines and outdoor cats all play a part. Longtime bird watcher Chuck Otte said Kansas' state bird, the western meadowlark, isn't migrating to new places — "they're just disappearing."

Steve Kraske is the host of KCUR's Up To Date. Follow him on Twitter @stevekraske.
Luke X. Martin is a reporter focusing on race, culture and ethnicity for KCUR 89.3. Contact him at or on Twitter, @lukexmartin.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at