Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


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“Summer Field Report, June–July 2011” from Nebraska Bird Review (September 2011) 79(3).


Copyright 2011 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


The effects of major drought in the southwest United States on bird life in Nebraska has yet to be determined, as has the effect of the historic inundation of the Missouri River bottom lands from Gavins Point Dam to Rulo in eastern Nebraska. The water level at McConaughy is coincidentally at a maximum, ensuring that breeding habitat for Piping Plover and Least Tern was much reduced in the state overall. On the other hand, bottom lands wetlands above the flood level were expanded; Black-necked Stilts initiated a late nesting in Dakota Co in flooded fields that also attracted thousands of shorebirds, notably Killdeer and Pectoral Sandpiper.

In the Rainwater Basin, good localized water conditions attracted southern herons, notably Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret, although Great Egret appeared in about normal numbers.

Ospreys continued their so far ill-fated nesting attempts in the west, while Mississippi Kites added new towns to their list of breeding locations.

A large influx of Cassin's Sparrows occurred in the west, mostly increasing numbers in previously known breeding locations, but with some expansion eastward, notably to Lincoln Co. This may be related to the extensive drought in the southwest United States. Grassland conditions in the Panhandle were suitable for Dickcissels (as well as Cassin's Sparrows); large numbers of Dickcissels were reported from there, a recent phenomenon that has been continuing. Surprisingly, following a strong move into the Panhandle in the last few years, no Lesser Goldfinches were reported.

Finally, expansion and range consolidation of several "southeastern" species continued; included were Least Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Chuck-will's-widow, Acadian Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Kentucky Warbler.