Nebraska Ornithologists' Union



Date of this Version



“2009–2010 Christmas Bird Counts” from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2010) 78(1).


Copyright 2010 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


Fourteen Christmas Bird Counts were held in Nebraska in the 2009–2010 season. The Ames count was cancelled due to weather, the Beaver Valley count returned after a year's absence, and the North Platte count was reinstated after not being officially run since the 1985–86 season. Although the average high and low temperatures were not exceptional, heavy snow cover affected most, if not all, of the counts. Roads were closed due to snow drifts, open water was limited, and at least three counts had to be rescheduled. The total number of species (116) was the lowest since 103 in 1997.

Interesting results included a record number of Trumpeter Swans (43), low duck numbers including no Canvasbacks (first miss since 1997), and an increase in numbers of all five Galliformes. Loons and grebes were absent except for one Western Grebe at Lake McConaughy. Raptor totals were generally down; a highlight was a Northern Goshawk at Norfolk. The nine American Coots was the lowest total since 1996.

Gulls were down in both numbers and diversity. Eight species and 1298 individuals were recorded on Nebraska CBCs in 2008 (most at Lake McConaughy), while this year only two species (Ring-billed and Herring) and 29 individuals were found.

Numbers of Columbiformes increased this year, possibly due to the birds being more concentrated and easier to find. A count-week White-winged Dove was found at Scottsbluff, the first one since 2005, which was also in Scottsbluff.

Overall Black-capped Chickadee numbers were down from 942 in 2008 to 814 this year, despite gains in some circles (from 31 in 2008 to 66 in 2009 at Branched Oak–Seward and from 3 in 2008 to 23 in '09 at Calamus-Loup). The Omaha tally went from 354 in 2008 to 262 this year. Nine Winter Wrens were recorded, which was an all-time high. Eighteen Carolina Wrens were tallied, a decade high, although those numbers will likely be lower next year, after this year's hard winter. Fox Sparrow rebounded to 28 after a low of 2 last year, and 142 Song Sparrows were found, a decade high count.

lcterid numbers were generally high. An impressive 37,570 Red-winged Blackbirds were counted at North Platte, although that number is dwarfed by the 255,806 found in Omaha in 1984. The 668 Common Grackles was the highest total since 1984, when 6097 were found. The 664 Great-tailed Grackles recorded (all from Grand Island and North Platte) was a new all-time high, and the 243 Brown-headed Cowbirds (181 at DeSoto) was the highest since 299 in 1984.