Date of this Version
Silcock, "Summer Field Report, June–July 2014," from Nebraska Bird Review (September 2014) 82(3).
This summer was marked by the "unremarkability," if there is such a thing, of the status of almost all species, especially passerines. A stark exception, however, was the pair of summering hummingbirds in a yard a few miles southeast of Chadron: Juanita Whittecar sent a collection of very good photos of these birds, detailed enough to determine that the pair of supposed Ruby-throated Hummingbirds actually consisted of a female Ruby-throated and a hybrid Ruby-throated x Broad-tailed male. Another odd phenomenon was the number of shorebird species with late Jun records, usually the brief window within which these species are absent in Nebraska. Reasons for this presumed suspension of migration are conjectural. Happily, this blandness was offset by a remarkable array of genuine rarities: first state record Brown Booby, second Mottled Duck, third Wood Stork, and fourth (all 2012–2014) Black-chinned Hummingbird.
Sifting through the species accounts did, however, yield a few items of interest. Ospreys continue to attempt to breed at several locations but without success so far, Mississippi Kites continue to expand slowly in the west, a great photo came to hand of a Whip-poor-will nest with an egg and a chick, Pygmy Nuthatches expanded their range eastward, Cassin's Sparrows were far-flung, and the state’s 13th Painted Bunting was found. A phenomenon not often recognized is the absence of certain common breeding passerine species from extreme southwest Nebraska, the driest part of the state. These include Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, and Great-tailed Grackle.
Given the increasing use of eBird by many observers, it seemed it would be only a matter of time until eBird data would be included in these seasonal reports. Along with the large amount of data gleaned from NEBIRDS and the reports that a few determined reporters send me each season, for this report I checked sightings reported to eBird for all species. I found the data to be useful as a check on what was already on hand, and it enhanced many of the accounts significantly with additional information. Unfortunately, however, this added quite a bit of time to an already time-consuming process, but on balance I think the final result was better because of it.