Date of this Version
Silcock, “Winter Field Report, December 2011 to February 2012,” from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2012) 80(1).
The most obvious feature of this winter’s avian movements was the number of Snowy Owls, unprecedented in living memory, that invaded the state. A tally maintained by Joel Jorgensen and Lauren Dinan of Nebraska Game and Parks indicated that over 200 snowies were found in the state, and most were documented. Not as popular with the public, but perhaps of greater scientific interest were the mid-winter reports of species normally rare at this time of year. Most notable in this respect were waterfowl, grebes, cranes, and sparrows. A read-through of these species suggests the very mild winter experienced over most of Nebraska allowed a number of species to linger into winter, if not survive into spring. Cranes were an interesting case; a large flock of Sandhills actually overwintered, a rare occurrence, while a Whooping Crane family and a lone Common Crane moved into Nebraska with early-migrating Sandhill Cranes. Related was the appearance at feeders of two Pheucticus grosbeaks, but only one White-winged Crossbill sighting (3 birds) ensued, despite an incursion of the species into Iowa.