Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Silcock, “Fall Field Report, August–November 2012,” from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2012) 80(4).


Copyright 2012 Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


Some of you may be curious about the sources of sightings I use to compile these reports. The primary sources are reports posted to NEBirds, the Nebraska Listserv, along with the full reports (early and late dates, peak counts for all species) sent by a few faithful reporters around the state. The latter reports are very useful overviews of movements in the reporters' regions. Lately, thanks to a suggestion by Clem Klaphake, I have been receiving the eBird daily rarity report for Nebraska which I find to be an excellent check against reports posted to NEBirds, while providing a few additional reports of interest. As eBird becomes a major depository and source of data, how and to what extent these data can be utilized by seasonal reporters and state records committees is a topic under serious discussion. More on that as it unfolds.

In these reports, I often cite "early dates" and "late dates." These follow the style in Birds of Nebraska (Sharpe et al., 2001) and refer to the first or last set of accumulated dates that are within a few days of each other, preferably 3 or fewer, and so presumably define a sort of "consensus" arrival or departure date.

Now to the birds. This was an interesting fall in several ways. Raptor enthusiasts were excited about Harris's Hawk and Crested Caracara reports, while nesting Mississippi Kites, Broad-winged Hawks, and Ospreys added interest.

An amazing number of wood-warblers were found in the west, notably such rarities as Tennessee, Nashville, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, and Blackburnian. I often think that the best way to find these "eastern" birds is to go west! A few wood-warblers arrived early: Black-and-white, Tennessee, Nashville, and Mourning.

Perhaps most exciting was the appearance of almost the full suite of Rocky Mountain birds and "winter finches" that are somewhat expected from time to time, with Pine Grosbeak the only exception. Steller's Jay, Mountain Chickadee, Cassin's Finch, and Evening Grosbeak were out west, Red and White-winged Crossbills were in the east, and Common Redpoll was essentially statewide.