Date of this Version
Silcock, "Fall Field Report, August-November 2004," from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2004) 72(4).
The fall season is a mix of summer, fall migration, and winter. Thus there are breeding records of interest, such as Mississippi Kites nesting at Red Cloud, only the 2nd known location in Nebraska, and only the 3rd documented breeding record for Northern Parula, despite its common summer residency. Fall migration generates early arrival dates, high counts, and late departure dates, the last seemingly more numerous as our average temperatures increase. Included in the late departure category were several late shorebirds, Great Egret and White-faced Ibis, and even the latest ever Black-throated Blue Warbler.
Counts of interest were 3000 Double-crested Cormorants at Harlan Co Res and 588 Cattle Egrets at a single Rainwater Basin wetland. At the other end of the scale were low numbers of waterfowl, for reasons much speculated upon by hunters as well as birders, the consensus being that wet fall conditions in the Dakotas were holding geese and ducks there. The best count of Mallards by period's end was only 10,000, and no other puddle ducks had counts over 500. Geese did not arrive in numbers until the last days of the period. One bright spot was the number of Hooded Mergansers reported; there are almost no breeding records for Nebraska, and so one wonders whether these birds are indeed breeding undetected in the state. Also disappointing were low numbers of Long-billed Dowitchers and especially Buffbreasted Sandpipers in the Rainwater Basin.
Arrival of winter birds, especially invasion species, is anticipated each fall; the first of these is usually Red-breasted Nuthatch, which arrives in Aug most years, and this year appeared in numbers, seemingly every feeder hosting at least one. Best single-location count was 15. Exciting was the appearance of several Clark's Nutcrackers, and a Mountain Chickadee was found near Scottsbluff.