Date of this Version
Silcock, “Spring Field Report, March 2013 to May 2013,” from Nebraska Bird Review (June 2013) 81(2).
This spring season was notable for unusual migration patterns. Western birds are showing up in the east in greater numbers each year, with Lazuli Bunting the prime example. There were 17 Lazulis reported east of Grand Island. Black-headed Grosbeak has been a rare find east of Grand Island, with only 5 previous sightings; now there have been 9, including 3 in the extreme east. There were more Black-headeds east than Rose-breasteds west, the reverse of the usual situation. Western Grebes and Sandhill Cranes also came east in greater numbers, as did Cinnamon Teal. On the other hand, there was a most unexpected small influx of about 6 Eastern Towhees (by phenotype, call, and song) into Scotts Bluff Co, an unprecedented event; they appeared to happily hang out with the local Spotteds.
Shorebirds also exhibited some unusual behaviors. Willets were more numerous and tardy in the east, lingering well past their breeding dates. Also easterly were Long-billed Curlew, until the last 2 years (and still) an extremely rare occurrence, Whimbrel, which also was early, and Marbled Godwit, which, along with Hudsonian Godwit, congregated in huge numbers near the town of Niobrara and were present throughout the east in larger numbers than usual. As well as this eastward push by larger shorebirds, smaller species arrived early: White-rumped Sandpiper, Short- and Long-billed Dowitcher, and Stilt Sandpiper. Most of the swallows were early, too.
Rarities were not much in evidence, with one major exception: a resplendent male Hooded Oriole in the tiny town of Garrison, Butler Co. Much less sexy, but possibly of greater ornithological significance, was Nebraska's first spring record of Rufous Hummingbird. Finally, there was an intriguing report of a Swallow-tailed Kite, a rarity that is long overdue to be re-documented in Nebraska.