Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Nebraska Bird Review, Volume 88 June 2020 Number 2, pp. 46-74


Published by the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Inc.


Although there were numerous early arrival dates, most were in the range of historically earliest expected dates; notable, however, was a lone record-early Whiterumped Sandpiper, nicely photographed. Record late by a month was a juvenile Redtailed (Harlan’s) Hawk, also confirmed by photo. Perhaps most prominent this spring were the large numbers of several species. Most eye-popping were record spring totals of 22 Glossy Ibises, 11 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, 14 Veeries, including five in the Panhandle, 48 Gray-cheeked Thrushes, 20 Bay-breasted Warblers, not long ago a rare bird in spring, 45 Golden-winged Warblers and 27 Canada Warblers, both of which were about twice the previous best spring totals. Impressive single observer/singleday counts were the 14 Iceland (Thayer’s) Gulls, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 81 Great Egrets, 200 Turkey Vultures, and 25 each of Eastern Wood-Pewees and Pygmy Nuthatches. In contrast, reports included notable absences and low numbers for Gray Partridge, one Black-billed Cuckoo, no Little Blue Heron, one report of the enigmatic Pinyon Jay, no Blue-winged Warbler, and one Cerulean Warbler.

A notable phenomenon in recent years is the increasing number of spring reports for species traditionally expected mostly in fall. Prominent were reports of Surf and White-winged Scoters, the 12th-16th Broad-tailed Hummingbirds at two notable Panhandle feeder operations in Dawes and Scotts Bluff Cos, 7th Red-naped Sapsucker, and 7th and 8th Hammond’s Flycatcher. Nesting reports of significance were the 7th for White-winged Dove, a rangeextending American Woodcock nesting at Calamus Reservoir in Garfield Co, and another successful brood of Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Wildcat Hills of Scotts Bluff Co. Distributional sightings of interest were northerly Pileated Woodpecker, westerly Broad-winged Hawk, Barred Owl, White-eyed Vireo, and Mourning Warbler, and easterly Say’s Phoebe, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bullock’s Oriole, and 11 Lazuli Buntings. Perhaps only of interest to Piping Plover aficionados were a series of sightings of marked individuals documenting the previously unappreciated dispersal abilities of this adaptable species. More in the curiosity category than the rarity category were reports of four hybrid or unusual waterfowl: the expected Blue-winged x Cinnamon Teal, and the rare Northern Shoveler x Gadwall, “Storm” Wigeon, and Bufflehead x Common Goldeneye. A head-scratcher for us ordinary birders was a documented report of a Downy x Hairy Woodpecker in Scotts Bluff Co. “Real” rarities were topped of course by two new state records, both “oneday wonders” which fortunately were documented by camera-ready observers. A Great Kiskadee in Gage Co was mentioned above, and a Black Phoebe was photographed by two people the same day in Scotts Bluff Co as a result of timely communication by the finder. The state’s second record of Swainson’s (Russetbacked) Thrush, subspecies Catharus ustulatus ustulatus, was documented by camera. Serious rarities were the 4th Nebraska Anna’s Hummingbird, documented by a motion-triggered camera, and Nebraska’s 6th Harris’s Hawk, again documented by camera by an alert member of the public. Photos of the latter belied the seemingly logical assumption it was the same bird that was photographed nearby last fall: they were in fact different individuals.