Date of this Version
"Winter Field Report, December 2002 to February 2003" from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2003) 71(1).
Overall, this winter season was pretty quiet. There were no major weather events, no major invasions Gust one minor incursion), and, with one big exception, no real rarities. Indeed, one observer (JJ) said: "I don't think I've ever had such a poor winter with bird sightings." Thus I stoop to the point of mentioning the presence of a kangaroo in Crawford, dutifully recorded on the CBC there on 28 December (BW). It was not identified to species, unfortunately.
On a more serious note, it is important to keep in mind that what we do as birders can make a significant contribution to ornithological knowledge; thus the emphasis in summaries like this one on accuracy of' identification, a sometimes unpopular thing to have to do as a compiler. Joel Jorgensen summarized our contributions as amateurs as follows: "Nevertheless, I think amateur birders have a tremendous ability to, make an important contribution; birding is perhaps the "rock and roll" of science. In a state with such a limited observer base, I think it is key that the few observers we have keep reporting and keep participating on counts. If they don't, birders and scientists 200 years will be greatly hindered. “Joel comes to this point after his meticulous research on historical accounts of birds in the Rainwater Basin, and understands very well how accurate information recorded now can be of great benefit many years hence.
And so, back to the birds: given the fairly mild conditions in fall, the expected collection of lingering waterfowl was duly noted, especially grebes, cormorant, pelican, and herons. Noteworthy was the latest ever Great Egret. Greater Yellowlegs and Long-billed Dowitcher were reported in December, and Bonaparte's Gull in January. The mildness of the late fall may have stimulated a group of prairie-chickens in north-central Nebraska to engage in booming on 28 December! Fewer late passerines were reported, but Gray Catbird, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Chipping Sparrow were among them, along with a real surprise, a Palm Warbler, which provided the only November or December record for the state.