Nebraska Ornithologists' Union



Date of this Version



Paseka, "2003 Christmas Bird Counts in Nebraska," from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2004) 72(1).


Copyright 2003, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


There were 11 Christmas Bird Counts conducted in Nebraska in December of 2003. One (the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge count) is partly in Iowa. The total of 132 species recorded is 5 fewer than last year's total of 137. This year 222,405 individuals were counted, as compared to the unusually high individual count of 303,619 in 2002, largely because of Snow Goose numbers. In 2002, 129,415 Snow Geese were reported, compared to this year's report of 10,940. There were 16 species which were seen on every count: Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Ring-necked Pheasant, Rock Pigeon, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, European Starling, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, American Goldfmch, and House Sparrow.

This year 183 field counters and 16 feeder watchers participated in the counts. The weather was slightly warmer than average, with two counts beginning the day in the single digits and eight counts fmishing the day in the 40's or 50's. Weather prior to the counts had been mild also, although most parts of the state were unusually dry throughout the summer and fall. The western part of the state was still experiencing a serious drought.

No Common Loons, Pied-billed Grebes or Double-crested Cormorants, all species which have shown up on about half of the counts in the past decade, were reported this year. Although the total number of Snow Geese was way down, as mentioned above, Lake McConaughy had an unusually high number of Snows: 7200. Other geese made good showings around the state. The Greater White-fronted total of 65 and the Ross' Goose total of 24 were the highest since 1998. Trumpeter Swans were reported at two counts (Lake McConaughy and Calamus-Loup), but the past four years have seen a downtrend: 39 in 2000, 26 in 2001, 13 in 2002 and 8 in 2003.