Date of this Version
The Nebraska Bird Review Vol. 88 No. 3, pp. 94-111.
Overall, this was a fairly routine summer although birders in Nebraska know that “routine” still holds promise of a few happenings out of the ordinary. The summer season primarily examines new breeding records, range expansions, and changes in numbers, up or down. Mississippi Kites were conspicuous, a pair providing Scottsbluff’s first breeding record, but a repeating pair in Lincoln, Lancaster lost its nest in a windstorm. The first nesting record for Violet-Green Swallow for Sheridan, 7th nesting for White-winged Dove, and 9th for Short-eared Owl were all encouraging, as was an apparent family group of Northern Saw-whet Owls in Sioux. Known for scattered nestings, Red Crossbills in Valentine, Red-breasted Nuthatches in Norfolk, and Pine Siskins in Omaha provided unexpected records. Breeding has not been proven in the Wildcat Hills for Plumbeous Vireo or Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler, but accumulating reports there are suggestive, as are increasing breeding season reports of Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Slow range expansion of Pileated Woodpecker in the northeast and Barred Owl in the Niobrara River Valley is underway. Sedge Wrens are increasingly reported in May-Jun whereas most previous breeding records were in Jul-Aug. Potential range expansions to be looked for are Clay-colored Sparrow, 6th record for summer, and Field Sparrow on the Pine Ridge, 6th summer record there. Also, Chuck-will’s-widow westerly, and Lesser Goldfinch, Henslow’s Sparrow, and Red-shouldered Hawk northerly. Possibly also in the potential breeders category were four species of diving ducks rarely reported in summer: Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, and Common Goldeneye. Encouraging were reports of Black-billed Magpie at Calamus Reservoir, Loup, where low numbers have persisted albeit rarely reported. The presence of 12 Pinyon Jays in Smiley Canyon, Sioux added to the intrigue surrounding this species’ occurrence in Nebraska, and an odd distributional record was of a Mountain Plover on grasslands in northern Sioux, perhaps re-occupying seemingly suitable habitat for the first time in over a hundred years. Summer is generally not the best season for rarities, although Nebraska’s 5th Anna’s Hummingbird was a surprise in Scotts Bluff. Black-chinned Hummingbird reports continue to increase, the 15th-17th reported also in Scotts Bluff. A Prairie Warbler provided the 15th state record. Quite out of place for the dates were a Swainson’s Thrush in Lincoln, Lancaster 19-22 Jun, and a female Chestnut-sided Warbler in Sioux 21-23 Jun. Each season has its list of amazing counts; most eye-popping this summer were 1295 Eared Grebes, 3730 Western Grebes assembling early, 52 Marbled Godwits, 147 Great Blue Herons also assembling early, 97 House Wrens, and a spectacular 116 Orchard Orioles. I very much appreciate the 133 observers whose sightings, recordings, and photographs I included in this report, and the many more whose sightings, while extremely valuable in providing context that make more obvious those of significance, did not quite make this seasonal summary.