Date of this Version
“Spring Field Report, March–May 2005” from Nebraska Bird Review (June 2005) 73(2).
As is often the case, the spring season had something for everyone: potential range expansions, an incredible shorebird migration through the eastern Rainwater Basin, a scarcity of migrant warblers, and some genuinely rare birds.
Timely spring rainfall transformed the Rainwater Basin, leaving large areas of sheetwater for migrant shorebirds and improving the attractiveness of wetlands, particularly renovated wetlands, to certain breeding species.
Perhaps the most important bits of information we can record here are changes in breeding ranges or behavior. Of significance here is the second nesting record for Hooded Merganser, the increasing occurrence of Greater Prairie-Chickens at Rainwater Basin grasslands, the return of Mississippi Kites to Red Cloud, nesting Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets in the Rainwater Basin, discovery of Barn Owls in northeast Nebraska, expansion into the state of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, possible breeding of Clark's Nutcrackers on the Pine Ridge, the continued feeding of grackle and robin chicks by the Sioux Co Curve-billed Thrasher (now considered to be a Husker), increasing evidence of Spotted Towhee introgression at Schramm State Park, and extra-limital nestings of Pine Siskin.
The shorebird migration through the Rainwater Basin was one for the ages, with record numbers of Hudsonian Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, and Buff-breasted Sandpipers found. Numbers of other species were also high, and L Mcconaughy contributed with a record count of Whimbrels.
On the other hand, migrant warblers were drastically lower in numbers, notably Nashville Warbler (8), Chestnut-sided Warbler (3), Magnolia Warbler (1), Black-throated Green Warbler (1), and Blackburnian Warbler (0). What this means will have to wait for a regional or national perspective.
Rarities were in evidence also, with some real "zooties": Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Anhinga, Glossy Ibis, White-tailed Kite, Red Knot, Ruff, Little Gull, White-eyed Vireo (in Sioux Co, no less), and Connecticut Warbler.