Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Peyton, "Lake McConaughy and Nebraska Piping Plover Recovery Goals," from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2004) 72(4).


Copyright 2004, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


Since 1992 the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (Central) has protected and monitored nesting Piping Plovers along the shore of Lake McConaughy (Keith County, Nebraska). Over those 13 seasons, Central monitored 849 Piping Plover nests and documented the successful fledging (successful fledging is defined as a chick at least 24 days old, or one observed flying) of 1,237 Piping Plover chicks (Table 1), making Lake McConaughy one of the most productive nesting areas for Piping Plovers in Nebraska. The following is a documentation of the contributions of Lake McConaughy to the recovery goals for Piping Plovers in Nebraska.

Piping Plover use of Lake McConaughy

On May 1, 2004, Lake McConaughy was at 39.7% capacity (633,100 ac/ft of a capacity of 1,594,100 ac/ft) with water elevation at 3217 feet above mean sea level. This is 26 feet lower than in 2002 and nine feet lower than 2003. While the steady decline in storage and elevation of the water in the reservoir is of serious concern, specifically for downstream water users and recreational fishermen, the large amount of exposed, sandy beaches has been ideal for nesting Piping Plovers. In terms of the number of adult birds sighted at the lake, the number of nests located and monitored, and the number of successfully fledged chicks, 2004 was a record-setting year, breaking the records set in 2003.