Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



“1986: A Nebraska Big Year” from Nebraska Bird Review (September 1989) 57(3).


Copyright 1989 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


In January of 1986 my brother, Ed M. Brogie, and I were tallying our lists for Nebraska when the question arose: "How many species of birds do you think one could see in Nebraska in one year?" The previous year (1985) had been the first year we had made a serious attempt at seeing western Nebraska species and chasing rarities in the state. Our efforts had yielded such birds as Bean Goose, Green-tailed Towhee, Black-necked Stilt, Red Phalarope, Lewis' Woodpecker, Sprague's Pipit, Cassin's Finch, Cassin's Kingbird, and King Eider. When 1985 ended, my Nebraska life list stood at 290 and I had seen 237 species in the state for the year, without any real attempt to see migrant songbirds. . . . In summary, I found all of the 197 birds I had given a Code 1, and 53 of the 54 Code 2 species (missed Hermit Thrush). Of the 40 birds I had given a Code 3 I had found 26. Included in my total were 12 Code 4 birds and 3 Code 5 species. Each species counted in the total had at least one witness or was documented with a photograph. . . . All in all, 1986 was a great year for birding and I had a fun time playing the game. One always thinks about the species he missed, but I know I'll remember for life some that I found. It was a year I learned a great deal about the birds of Nebraska, and about Nebraska as a whole. Perhaps the best part of birding in 1986 was making new acquaintances, spending time with old friends, and just sharing the joys and experiences that go with the sport.