Date of this Version
Silcock, "Spring Field Report, March 2015 to February 2015," from Nebraska Bird Review (June 2015) 83(2).
This was a largely uneventful spring in terms of major events, as most species stayed within their ranges and movement timing parameters. There are always a few stochastic exceptions, but no clear pattern of, for example, early arrival dates was discernible. However, several interesting situations came to light, and there were a few rarities detected. A Couch’s Kingbird in Sarpy Co was well described but awaits a determination by the Nebraska Ornithologists' Union Records Committee as to whether the evidence is strong enough to add this species to the Official State Bird List. Other exciting finds were a wintering Brown Pelican, possibly of the Pacific Coast subspecies, a beautifully photographed Arctic Tern, a Gyrfalcon, and no less than two Virginia’s Warblers. Most of the aforementioned “interesting situations” are better described as candidates for “food for thought,” and included the plethora of Glossy Ibis reports, as well as surprising numbers of Thayer's, Lesser Black-backed, Glaucous, and Great Black-backed Gulls. There was a convincing report of a Black Rail; we know almost nothing about this species in Nebraska. Reports of nesting Barn Owls and White-winged Doves are increasing; both species appear to be continuing northward range expansions. Range expansions westward in the south related to maturing riparian and upland second-growth forests are noted for Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, and Summer Tanager. Western hummingbirds are appearing in spring, an unprecedented phenomenon as far as we know in Nebraska; the 3rd and 4th spring Calliopes and 2nd and 3rd spring Broad-taileds were photographed. An interesting situation in population genetics is the recent “outbreak” of sightings of phenotypically pure-looking Eastern Towhees in Scotts Bluff County; some discussion of this is included here under the Eastern Towhee species account.