Nebraska Ornithologists' Union



Date of this Version



“2008–2009 Christmas Bird Counts in Nebraska” from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2009) 77(1).


Copyright 2009 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


Thirteen Christmas Bird Counts were held in Nebraska in the 2008–09 season, one less than last year. (Beaver Valley was not run this year.) This year fewer participants (184, the fewest since 2000) found more individual birds than last year (146,635 vs 133,106) but fewer species (126, the fewest since 2000).

Temperatures were about like last year, with an average high of 29°F. Most counts reported some snow cover, frozen still water, and some open running water. On the day of the Branched Oak–Seward count, a balmy 51°F was recorded in Lincoln shortly after midnight. By afternoon, the temperature had dropped to 5° and was accompanied by north winds gusting to 40 mph.

Notable misses this year were all loon and grebe species. The last time we had a loon and grebe shutout was in 1990. We also missed Short-eared Owls this year and in 2006. No Brewer's Blackbirds were found: the last time they were absent was in 1998.

Notable finds included a Red-shouldered Hawk at Branched Oak–Seward during count week. This species is found sporadically on the Omaha count and has only once before been found on a count other than Omaha (DeSoto in 1988). A Peregrine Falcon was seen in the Lincoln count circle; one was last seen on a count in 2001. One Great Black-backed Gull was found at Lake McConaughy, only the third ever; all were from this decade and all were seen at Lake McConaughy. A first for the Lake McConaughy count was Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. This species is unusual on CBCs and was last seen in 1989 in Scottsbluff. Prior to that, one was in Crawford in 1978.

[This document includes color photographs on pp. 16–17 of a Ruddy Turnstone (Clay County), Least Tern chick (Sarpy County), Red-headed Woodpecker (Lancaster County), Sedge Wren (Washington County), Sprague’s Pipit (Lancaster County), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Dodge County), Baltimore Orioles (Nemaha County), and Le Conte’s Sparrow (Sarpy County).]