Nebraska Ornithologists' Union



Copyright 1983, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


The Niobrara Valley Preserve occupies an area of approximately 22,000 ha in north-central Nebraska and includes parts of Brown, Cherry, and Keya Paha counties. This area was purchased in 1980 by the Nature Conservancy because of the unique co-occurrence of habitat types such as ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest, eastern deciduous forest, northern forest (represented by white birch, Betula papyrijera), mixed grass prairie, sandhills prairie, and tallgrass prairie all existing within a proximity of 1.5-3 km.

Nomenclature follows the Thirty-fourth Supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds 1982.

This confluence of habitat types, in conjunction with the area's central geographic setting, creates a significant zone of sympatry among eastern, western, northern, and southern bird species. Limited research on species' occurrence and hybridization has been conducted in the Niobrara Valley area (Johnsgard 1979; Short 1961, 1965a, 1965b, 1966; Sibley & Short 1964; Sibley and West 1959) although no detailed study of the region's avifauna has occurred.

The following list contains those species observed by Preserve personnel from 4 April to 15 August, 1982, with several pertinent records thereafter. The study area encompasses the 22,000 ha Preserve and an additional approximate 20,000 ha of adjacent land. The total area is hounded at the west by the eastern edge of the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, 18 km east of Valentine, and extends eastward along the Niobrara River to a point three km east of the Meadville Bridge. The study area extends approximately three km north of the river and from 113 km south, including all of Plum Creek Canyon downstream from its crossing at the Johnstown Road.

Detailed records of nesting and other observations are kept at the Preserve headquarters. Mossman and Brogie (1983) discuss elsewhere the breeding of certain rare or unusual species in the study area.