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Here they come – Christmas Bird Counts

It is difficult to believe we are only a few days away from another Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season, which will be from December 14 to January 5 this year (or two years, as it may be).  This year, our state’s CBCs kickoff on Sunday when the North Platte and Branched Oak Lake-Seward CBC take place.   There will be fourteen CBCs in Nebraska this year, from Harrison to Omaha and Scottsbluff to Ponca State Park.

Wintering waterfowl
Concentrations of wintering waterfowl in patches of open water are key to bump up the total number of species recorded on any CBC.  However, skilled observers are necessary to pick out all species present.  There are six duck species in this photo, can you find and identify them all?

This CBC season is exciting for me because I am resurrecting the Harlan County CBC.  I organized and ran this count from 1996-2001.  Last year in this post, I discussed how CBC data are useful in showing and understanding general changes in bird distribution.  Once data are collected for the Harlan County CBC, it will be interesting to see what has changed since the the first CBC period.  A couple notable changes I anticipate is the addition of the Eurasian Collared-Dove and the likely loss of the Black-billed Magpie to the species tally.  During the earlier CBC period, we tallied about two dozen magpies each year.   Finding one of this species may be real challenge, now, as its numbers have decline markedly in the last fifteen years.  The dove, on the other hand, has become common to abundant in Nebraska during the past fifteen years.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawks, which are always a pleasure to encounter, should be recorded on several CBCs in the western half of Nebraska.

If you are interested in participating in a CBC, a full run down is provided on the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union website.  Contact information for each CBC compiler is also provided (tip, don’t wait until the last minute to contact a compiler!!).

Good birding!

Nongame Bird Blog

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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