Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Johnsgard in Nebraska Bird Review (September 2000) 68(3). Copyright 2000, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


The changes that have occurred in the bird life of the Lincoln area during the past century must certainly be great, but we have little evidence to document this point. There is, however, an annotated bird list from 1900 for the salt basin wetlands of western Lincoln, an area then gradually being developed for recreational use. This list was published by J. S. Hunter in the Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Ornithologists' Union (1900, 18-21). At this time, the recently impounded but still saline lake was 2 to 3 feet deep, and it covered about two hundred acres (roughly half its present size). Hunter reported that some 84 species (by modern taxonomy) had been seen by him and other bird-club members, including such modern-day rarities as the Whooping Crane, least Tern, Piping Plover, and Trumpeter Swan.

That the now extremely rare Black Duck was "uncommon" and, contrariwise, that the Wood Duck was already "frequent" is surprising. Similarly surprising, the Hooded Merganser was the most common of the three merganser species. Nearly all the birds on this list are water birds and shorebirds. The recent establishment of a small wetland nature sanctuary at the east end of Capitol Beach should help restore some of the marsh-dependent species that once occurred there, such as the rails and herons.