Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Silcock, “Winter Field Report, December 2012 to February 2013,” from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2013) 81(1).


Copyright 2013 Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


This winter was notable for its lack of snow cover and above-normal temperatures, which allowed a large variety of species to remain in the state for at least the first half of the period. Notable among these species were waterfowl and native sparrows, but additional observations tended to confirm the mildness of the winter: Blue-winged Teal lingering into Dec, Sandhill Cranes wintering again in central Nebraska, a record early egg date for Great Horned Owl, a Sandhills midwinter Loggerhead Shrike, and wintering Green-tailed Towhee and Dickcissel.

The most significant event was the Common Redpoll invasion; these birds were reported statewide in sizeable flocks. Other notable events were the continued presence in Scotts Bluff Co of the Steller's Jays and Mountain Chickadees that arrived in fall, an echo of last winter's amazing Snowy Owl invasion, higher than expected numbers of adult Golden Eagles and Prairie Falcons eastward, a large feeder group of Pinyon Jays in the west, and a mind-boggling 250,444 European Starlings on the North Platte CBC.

Exotic waterfowl are much-maligned by listers, but it behooves us to keep track of what might be future residents; in this category were Mandarin Duck and Ruddy Shelduck, both of which had an interesting story to tell.

There was a good collection of rarities reported, some at the subspecies level. Notable was Hoary Redpoll, expected with the huge number of Common Redpolls in the state, but others included a "Black" Brant, Glaucous-winged Gull, Hairy Woodpecker of the Rocky Mountains subspecies, Bewick's Wren, two Varied Thrushes, a Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler, Black Rosy-Finch, and Pine Grosbeak.

An interesting observation at the intersection of agriculture and ornithology was the unusual absence of pigeons and doves at a Fremont elevator that had taken in over 400,000 bushels of high-aflatoxin corn.

A final note regarding a convention used in the Winter Report. As regular readers will know, "winter" as considered here is not defined by the calendar, but by the movements of each species being considered. For example, a Baltimore Oriole absent from the state between migration periods would be considered a ''winter visitor" if it appeared between approximately 15 Sep and 20 Apr, whereas a Lincoln's Sparrow would only be so considered between approximately 20 Dec and 20 Feb.