Date of this Version
Silcock, "Fall Field Report, August-November 2003" from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2003) 71(4).
New in this Seasonal Report, direct from the American Ornithologists' Union (along with Wilson's Snipe, Rock Pigeon, etc.), is the modified checklist order, featuring geese, swans, and ducks at the beginning, followed by gallinaceous birds, then resuming the familiar order with loons.
Perhaps the most important use for these reports, in addition to their incorporation into the Southern Great Plains Region summary in North American Birds, is the noting of significant avian events in Nebraska. Some are of obvious importance, but the meaning of others is obscure, perhaps only to be revealed as subsequent reports show a trend, or events noted in Nebraska are corroborated by the same events noted in the other Southern Great Plains states, in Kansas and Oklahoma, or even on a national level.
Such events discussed in this report include a good showing of scoters, hints of a recovery of the Gray Partridge population, a sighting of 7+ migrating Mississippi Kites, a Clark's Nutcracker in Sowbelly Canyon, indications of declines in numbers of Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, and Black-capped Chickadee, westerly Carolina Wrens, rather low numbers of thrushes and warblers, westerly Rose-breasted Grosbeaks possibly breeding, good numbers of Purple Finches, no reports of Red Crossbills after 27 Sep, and few Pine Siskins.
A similar category of events, but perhaps better labeled "quirky," were some strange bobwhite items from the Panhandle, the occurrence of Eurasian Collared-Doves in 74 counties so far, the possibility that the Curve-billed Thrasher at the Frimann Ranch in Sioux County was able to sneak its genes into the Brown Thrasher pool, a Blue Grosbeak carrying a minnow, and an Orange Bishop (a bird, not a Dutch prelate) in Kearney.
Among significant early or late dates of occurrence were record late Caspian Terns, Panhandle Gray Catbird, and Bobolink (although the Boblink was unsubstantiated), second-latest Forster's Tern and Western Kingbird, and record early Northern (Red-Shafted) Flickers eastward.
In-your-face numbers were the 321 Hooded Mergansers at L Yankton, 5 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons in the eastern Rainwater Basin, a fall record 247 Upland Sandpipers there also, an almost-record 283 Buff-breasted Sandpipers also in the eastern Rainwater Basin, 26,000 Franklin's Gulls at L McConaughy, a record 14 Caspian Terns at Branched Oak L, 30+ Burrowing Owls at a Scotts Bluff County location, and a record 12 Brown Creepers at Arbor Day Farm.
And for rarity buffs and state listers, there was limited joy this fall. Best were the 3rd state record Yellow-billed Loon at L McConaughy and 5th state record Tricolored Heron in the eastern Rainwater Basin. Significant also was a 3rd state fall record Hudsonian Godwit, at L McConaughy. Important Panhandle records were a first record Summer Tanager (of the western subspecies cooperi), 2nd record Ruby-throated Hummingbird (as well as a 2nd record Archilochus hummingbird), 2nd record Winter Wren, first fall record Baltimore Oriole, 2nd fall record Mourning Warbler, and 3rd fall record Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a male. Other important records were a Tufted Titmouse at Ponca SP, apparently the same bird that was there in May, and the 8th fall record Rock Wren in the southeast.