Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Silcock, "Winter Field Report, December 2014 to February 2015," from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2015) 83(1).


Copyright 2015 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


As with last winter, this was a rather ordinary winter ornithologically speaking, if indeed there is such a thing. There were a couple of genuine rarities to spice it up, but most of the interest was in unusual phenomena shown by a range of species. Ducks and swans and native sparrows seem to be more in evidence in mid-winter than in previous years, but it is difficult to relate winter occurrence to weather in any given year, except for isolated extreme events. There are, however, some trends showing up, as suggested by the ducks, swans, native sparrows, and a few species like the Yellow-rumped Warbler; these are discussed in the species accounts.

Rarities were an adult Brown Pelican that wintered at the Sutherland “Hot Pool,” a.k.a. Cooling Pond, for the state’s first winter record, and a female Brambling in Lincoln County, Nebraska’s third.

Among the phenomena, evidence is accumulating for consideration of adding Mute Swan to the Official State List, and Tundra Swans are lingering well into winter rather than simply migrating through. Two American Black Ducks were westerly in Lincoln Co, there were single Dec reports of both yellowlegs species, and gulls in general were much in evidence in Feb especially as lakes thawed allowing access to fish trapped in the ice. Wayne Mollhoff’s fascinating work with Saw-Whet Owls continues, westerly Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers continue to show well, and Black-billed Magpies are struggling. Mountain Chickadees continued their preferential attachment to Scotts Bluff Co, but hardly any Townsend’s Solitaires showed up. Possibly unprecedented numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers were around in Feb, a Baltimore Oriole survived into Jan, there was only one report of a Red Crossbill, and spotty appearances of Evening Grosbeaks continued.