Nebraska Ornithologists' Union



Date of this Version



"1990 Christmas Count Report," from Nebraska Bird Review (March 1991) 59(1).


Copyright 1991, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


101 species were reported on Christmas counts during 1990. An additional 2 species were recorded during count weeks but not during a specific count day. Direct comparison with 1990 count data is difficult due to a disparity in the number of counts; 110 species plus 2 in the count week were found in 1990. 14 counts were held during 1989, but only 6 counts are reported in 1990. The DeSoto NWR count was cancelled due to icy roads and bad weather. Wayne Mollhoff's 4 central Nebraska counts were apparently not held because he is a member of the Reserves and was on constant stand-by throughout this period due to the Persian Gulf crisis. No reports were received from 3 counts-Norfolk, Kearney, and Sioux City.

In the counts that were held, an observer could see a difference in the number and types of birds seen between counts early in the period and later ones. The four counts held on December 15 and 16, the first weekend of the period, all showed increases in the number of birds seen. In fact, Grand Island set a record high, nearly doubling the number of birds seen on the record 1989 count, including 5000 Sandhill Cranes, a species never before recorded on a Grand Island count. But, as Lincoln compiler Daryl Giblin noted, two or three days later, the open water which enhanced bird numbers had frozen in the face of the severe arctic blast. The Tristate count, the most southeasterly of all counts, did show some increase, mainly due to an influx of Horned Larks; however, the Omaha count, held in subzero weather with approximately half the normal participants, showed a 4000-bird reduction.

Many interesting birds were seen in all points of the count. The Pine Grosbeak at Grand Island was the one of the four new birds seen on this count, and a Prairie Falcon was seen on the Omaha count for the first time. The Lincoln count had its share of good birds: Double-crested Cormorants, a bird not often noted on any Nebraska count, were found, a Black-billed Magpie was recorded for the first time, and a Townsend's Solitaire was recorded for the second straight year. Also significant in Lincoln was the count week report of a Bonaparte's Gull, which may be the first time this species has been recorded in a count period, along with a record number of all gull species reported. More information on the Bonaparte's would be highly desired by the NBR. The Lincoln County (formerly North Platte) count recorded the only Mountain Bluebirds and a single Yellow-headed Blackbird. The Scottsbluff count had one of its highest species totals ever, and the Tristate count had the only Hermit Thrush and Snow Bunting recorded (though it is not known if these were in Nebraska, Missouri, or Iowa).