Date of this Version
This season, partly due to the departure of my co-writer Joel Jorgensen and partly due to mental aging, I have shortened the species accounts by including only data that add to our current knowledge base. I will not routinely list early and late dates and peak counts for each species unless they are significant; readers should refer to past issues of NBR for guidelines as to what are early or late dates and high counts. Observers are, however, urged to report early and late dates and high counts of all migrant species; it is difficult to know if a sighting is significant until all the reports are pooled in my computer.
In general, most observers thought this a fairly routine fall, although the Panhandle continued to be a source of significant new information, thanks to consistent coverage by Steven Dinsmore. Similar coverage of the Rainwater Basin by Joel Jorgensen also has enhanced our knowledge considerably. Every report is valuable: very few of the large list of observers fail to have at least one of their sightings included in the report.
There were no new species added to the state list this fall, but this year was amazing in that respect, with 7 new species (some awaiting approval by the Records Committee) bringing the total state list to a very respectable 441 species. Rarest this fall was the pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in the Rainwater Basin, a second documented state record. Also very rare were a 7th state record White-winged Dove and 8th state record Lesser Goldfinch. Other interesting finds included a Brant of the western race, 3 Pomarine Jaegers, the first documented central Nebraska Blue-headed Vireo, a Mountain Chickadee, a Varied Thrush, another report of Baird's Sparrow, the first Bullock's Oriole for fall east of the Panhandle, and a White-winged Crossbill.
Some rather amazing counts were made: 35,000 Western Grebes (considered conservative by the experienced observer!), a total of about 300 Great Egrets, 6000 and 4200 Blue-winged Teal, 1492 Ruddy Ducks (no estimating there!), 12,000 Cliff Swallows, 16 Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows, and good numbers of Purple Finches for a change.
Interesting range expansions were noted for Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Chipping Sparrow, while the continued presence of Pileated Woodpeckers at Fontenelle Forest adds to the uniqueness of that area in terms of species which breed there and nowhere else that we know about: Red-shouldered Hawk and Yellow-throated Warbler are others.
In the "huh?" department, check out Virginia Rail and Budgerigar (maybe the next addition to the state list?)