Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Nebraska Bird Review Vol. 88 No. 4, pp. 162-172


Published by the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Inc.


The Seward-Branched Oak Lake Christmas Bird Count (Seward-BOL CBC) began in 1993 and has been conducted every year since then except for 2010 for a total of 27 counts. Weather conditions prevented the count on the selected date in 2010 and a backup date could not be set up. The count was started for several reasons. The area west of Lincoln has a diversity of habitats including all or part of four public lakes (Branched Oak, Pawnee, Twin Lakes, and Meadowlark) as well as a diversity of terrestrial habitats on both public and private land. The circle is close to Lincoln, which has a large birding community from which to recruit volunteers to help on the count. It was also the intent to provide Seward residents who feed birds an opportunity to become involved. To accomplish these goals, the center of the 15-mile-diameter circle was located a half mile south and half mile east of Garland (Figure 1). The map shows the circle divided into blocks which are assigned to people helping with the count. Including both field observers and feeder watchers, over 145 people have participated in one or more counts since the count started. To date, all counts have been done between December 14-20 (the first week of the count period). This has been intentional because lakes in the count circle are more likely to have open water with water-associated bird species present. ...

In conclusion, analyzing CBC data from a single count over 27 years turned out to be a challenging but informative task. There is always a sense that there is more to see and find if you look at the data a little more. For the most part, species that increased and species that decreased during the count history were consistent with data from other studies. In some cases, analyzing the data raises more questions than answers. For example, it is not clear why Red-Bellied Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers both increased and were correlated with each other, but neither Downy Woodpeckers nor Hairy Woodpeckers increased although they were correlated with each other. Eastern Screech-Owl is another species that has declined and could be studied to better understand possible population changes. I encourage other Nebraska CBC birdwatchers to analyze their data and see what the data reveals.