Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


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Fall Field Report and Species Accounts (Silcock) in Nebraska Bird Review (December 2000) 68(4). Copyright 2000, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


This fall season was amazing, or as Stephen Dinsmore put it: ''The birding was simply spectacular in western Nebraska this fall," There was something for everyone, whether rarity-chasers, taxonomists, listers, or whatever. There were no fewer than four new species for the state list (pending NOURC approval, of course!), a total of 315 species reported, and fascinating information on western subspecies in the Panhandle.

Numbers of western migrants reached record levels, exemplified by fall totals of 53 Townsend's Warblers, 25 MacGillivray's Warblers, and 28 Western Tanagers. By contrast, eastern migrant warblers in the east were almost non-existent.

At L McConaughy, the exposed flats at the west end of the reservoir attracted myriads of shorebirds and waterbirds, including record fall counts of Western Grebe (44,000!), Green-winged Teal, and a near-record count of Baird's Sandpipers. Several species also had new fall high counts, notably Cliff Swallow (30,000!) and Blue-winged Teal (14,500!).

Stephen Dinsmore's diligent coverage of the Panhandle yielded no fewer than four first state records: Reddish Egret, Arctic Tern, Dusky Flycatcher (using mist-nettting, photography, and measurements!), and Black Rosy-Finch. The state total now stands at a healthy 445 species.

There was also a host of significant distributional or seasonal reports, notably a first western White-eyed Vireo, first Panhandle documented Eastern Wood-Pewee, a first August-September Pacific Loon, a first August Red-breasted Merganser, a first fall record for Virginia's Warbler, and a second fall Hudsonian Godwit for the state. Not to mention all three jaegers!

Sparrows were in mediocre numbers, with not much of interest in that group. Of concern are the few reports of Black-billed Cuckoo in recent years; only two were reported this fall. Despite the total of 315 species reported, no fewer than 17 species of regular, though generally rare, occurrence were not found. Most surprising among these were American Black Duck, American Woodcock, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Veery, Wood Thrush, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Summer Tanager. Many of the missed species either depart early in fall or become inconspicuous. Were their breeding seasons unsuccessful?