Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Silcock, “Spring Field Report, March–May 2007,” from Nebraska Bird Review (June 2007) 75(2).


Copyright 2007 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.



Extremes of weather conditions and resulting variation in water conditions were noteworthy this spring. The west was very dry, but the Rainwater Basin had ample rains resulting in excellent breeding conditions for various waterbirds, notably Eared Grebe and American Coot. Shorebird numbers were unremarkable, although there was plenty of variation between species. Indeed, Dunlin, with record numbers, and Ruddy Turnstones were numerous. Arrival dates were pushing early but not record early. Species earlier than average were American Golden-Plover, Mountain Plover, Black-necked Stilt, White-rumped Sandpiper, and Stilt Sandpiper.

Increasingly associated with wetlands, albeit unrelated to water levels, Greater Prairie-Chicken continued to use grassy margins of wetlands in the Rainwater Basin for lek sites. Leks were also noted in agricultural fields. Use of these habitats suggests ability to adapt and bodes well for the future of this species in southeast Nebraska, where it is also doing very well in its traditional native grassland habitats.

Red-shouldered Hawks are being reported away from the traditional breeding site at Fontenelle Forest, the only site known in the state. Other species continuing range expansions and increasing in numbers are Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Summer Tanager.

It was a fun spring for rarity-seekers, with a putative first state record Zone-tailed Hawk, one of fewer than 5 records on the Great Plains north of the breeding range, a state 7th record Curve-billed Thrasher, found, appropriately, by the state's Non-game Bird Program Manager, and a 9th state record Golden-crowned Sparrow. Lesser highlights, but still major zootics, were Common Crane, Prairie Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, and Cape May Warbler.

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Greater White-fronted Goose: Routine reports.

Snow Goose: Best counts were 350,000 between Gothenburg and Kearney 4 Mar (SB) and 200,000 at Harvard Marsh 16 Mar (PD). Of interest was the composition of the flock of 100,000 near North Platte 8 Mar: 20–30% "Blue Geese," in contrast to the virtual absence of this color morph nearby in the Panhandle as recently as 1990 (TJW, Richard Rosche).

Ross's Goose: Best count was a moderate 100 at PL I I Mar (LE). One in Dakota Co 14 May (BFH) was tardy.