Date of this Version
This review compiles published and a few unpublished records of fossil and prehistoric birds for the Nebraska region (Nebraska and parts of adjacent states) from the Cretaceous Period to the late Pleistocene, about 12,000 years before present. Species recorded during the various epochs include: Oligocene and Early Miocene (13 families; 29 species), Middle Miocene (six families; 12 species), Late Miocene (14 families; 21 species), Pliocene (six families; 15 species), Early-Middle Pleistocene (eight families; 16 species) and Late Pleistocene (16 families; more than 24 species). The first primitive bird found in Nebraska was a Hesperornis. Many were waterfowl, raptors, or upland game birds. Songbirds were not noted until the Pleistocene. Species once present but now extinct in Nebraska include a flamingo, walking eagles, storks, and a crowned crane. Some species have modern relatives with ranges to the south of the Great Plains or in Africa. Habitat information for specific sites is provided where available.