Date of this Version
“Fall Field Report, August–November 2011” from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2011) 79(4).
Overall, this fall migration was routine (waterfowl, warblers, sparrows), but there were a few unexpected highlights. The flooded Missouri River Valley provided habitat that led to some amazing fall counts: 3000 pelicans, 5700 coots, 338 American Golden-Plovers, and 1200 Pectoral Sandpipers. The 10,000 cormorants at Harlan County Reservoir may not have been affected by the Missouri River flooding, and were a record count also. While we're talking numbers, the martin roost in Omaha topped out at 50,000–55,000, and seasonal totals of 4 Red-necked Grebes and 15 Philadelphia Vireos for the state, 34 Mississippi Kites over Ogallala (it's often hard to find one), and 45 Lesser Goldfinches banded at Wildcat Hills Nature Center were interesting tallies.
Surprising many was the rare occurrence of 4000–5000 Sandhill Cranes lingering late into fall; the reports of 5 Snowy Owls before the end of the period also was a hint of what might follow. Also surprising was the low number of Black-capped Chickadees reported in south-central Nebraska; the NOU meeting held at Audubon Rowe Sanctuary reported chickadees in only one of the 12 counties covered by participants.
And, of course, there is always the weird. Two species of vagrant psittacids were reported, neither a threat to our native birds: a Rosy-faced Lovebird and a Budgerigar. One reporter found a Burrowing Owl on the grounds of an Omaha Lowes store (strange enough), but a subsequent reporter, looking for the owl, turned up a Smith's Longspur in the same place. Maybe I’ve been trying too hard for the Smith's! And finally, a Rufous Hummingbird appeared in a Lincoln yard in mid·Sep and stayed there all fall until it was captured on 10 Nov and sent to hummingbird heaven at the Henry Doorly Zoo.