Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version


Document Type



Silcock, "Spring Field Report, March 2016 to February 2016," from Nebraska Bird Review (June 2016) 84(2).


Copyright 2016 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


In contrast to the fairly routine spring of 2015, this year saw an almost unbelievable parade of early arrivals. About 49 species, including virtually all taxonomic groups, had arrival dates at the early end of expected arrival dates, and a few species set record early dates. Notable early birds were Calidris shorebirds, flycatchers, and swallows, species which depend on available insect and pond-edge life, suggesting that organisms are "waking up" earlier than in previous years, helped, of course, by the mild 2015–2016 winter. On the other hand, there was only one late species: Purple Finch, which remained into mid-May at a few locations.

Also of significance were several amazing high counts, most of which were achieved by insectivorous species. High seasonal totals were made by Gray-cheeked Thrush, Golden-winged, Hooded, and Cerulean Warblers (including an encouraging two females), while record single-observer-day tallies were made of Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Magnolia, and Yellow Warblers, American Redstart, Indigo Bunting, and Baltimore Oriole.

This spring, there were several significant all-time state and Panhandle occurrences. Rarest among them were the 3rd state record Glaucous-winged Gull, 7th Gray Flycatcher, and 9th Curve-billed Thrasher. NOURC will examine the documentation of these sightings. Rare Panhandle reports of eastern birds were of a 4th Mourning Warbler there as well as the 12th Summer Tanager. As observers spend more time birding the Panhandle, spring reports of species that usually occur in fall are being made more often. Reports this spring were of Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Dusky Flycatcher, and Cassin's Vireo, all of which have 7 or fewer spring records in all. Other rarities included a Black-throated Blue Warbler in Omaha.