Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



The Nebraska Bird Review Vol. 87 No. 3 (2019), pp 110-114


Published by the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Inc.


The southeastern portion of the Wilson’s Phalarope’s (Phalaropus tricolor) breeding range encompasses parts of Nebraska (Colwell and Jehl 1994), including the Sandhills and northern Panhandle (Silcock and Jorgensen 2018). Additionally, there have been a number of breeding records from southcentral and southeastern Nebraska within the Rainwater Basin ecoregion since the mid-1990s (Mollhoff 2016, Silcock and Jorgensen 2018). However, there is very little evidence of regular breeding activity in the nearby Central Platte River Valley (CPRV), which spans from Chapman west to Overton, Nebraska, and is considered a globally important area for waterbirds (Johnsgard and Brown 2013, Silcock and Jorgensen 2018). Sutton and Arcilla (2018) documented two juvenile Wilson’s Phalaropes with two adults on 28 June 2017, confirming successful breeding in the CPRV on Mormon Island, Hall County, Nebraska. However, Sutton and Arcilla (2018) did not document an active nest and therefore lack a detailed description of the nesting habitat used by Wilson’s Phalaropes in this unique ecoregion. On 6 June 2019 we found a Wilson’s Phalarope nest while walking between avian point count stations on Mormon Island, 4.7 km northwest of Doniphan and 14.4 km southwest of Grand Island, Nebraska, on land owned and managed for the benefit of migratory birds by the Crane Trust ( The landscape is managed with rotational grazing and prescribed fire to simulate natural disturbance regimes (Fuhlendorf et al. 2009). Mormon Island contains the largest contiguous tract of wet meadow remaining in the CPRV (Currier and Henszey 1996, Brei and Bishop 2008). Mormon Island consists of about 1075 hectares (ha) or 2,656 acres (ac) of primarily relict and restored wet meadow and lowland tallgrass prairie habitat, and exists within a complex of 2,425 ha (5,992 ac) of land protected for conservation purposes along a 13 km (~8 mi.) stretch of the Platte River. The nest was found when an adult male Wilson’s Phalarope flushed directly off the nest from the ground at a distance of approximately 3 meters (m) from approaching observers.