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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.

More on the Whooping Cranes at Hupp WMA

Hupp Whoopers

The six Whooping Cranes at Father Hupp Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Thayer County, seem to be enjoying this WMA and its wetland.  These birds likely first arrived at this site late in the day on Friday, 13 November, and they remain present Thanksgiving (26 November), even as winter weather settles into Nebraska.  This means these birds’ stay is approaching two weeks, which is a relatively long migratory stopover for Whoopers.  Whooping Cranes also don’t typically linger this long in Nebraska …

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Father Hupp WMA Whooping Cranes

Hupp Whooping Cranes

As announced in a press release, Father Hupp WMA in northern Thayer County was closed temporarily on Monday, and remains closed, to protect six Whooping Cranes which are stopping over at this Rainwater Basin wetland.  The “Father Hupp 6” and the “Branched Oak 5” were or are part of a big influx of Whooping Cranes that came into Nebraska on gusty northwest winds as a result of the strong low pressure system that moved across the central Plains last week.   Since the …

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Whooping Cranes at Branched Oak Lake

The Branched Oak Lake Whooping Cranes on 13 November 2015

I was off Friday ahead of a weekend chock full of checking deer, so I had big plans to hit as many reservoirs as I could to see what rarities the strong northwest winds from earlier in the week blew down.  I started my day early at Branched Oak Lake – which was logical since this water body is the largest around and has the most potential (a Black-headed Gull was discovered here earlier in the week).   My first stop on …

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Rarity reported, rapid response required

Black-headed Gull

  On late Wednesday afternoon at about 4:30 p.m. I had just settled on my couch with my laptop as northwest winds were beginning to howl in Lincoln.  It was good to be home for good for the day.  Then, an expected email from the internet discussion group NEbirds arrived in my inbox at 4:27 p.m.  The message was from Noah Arthur and it read: Right now there’s an adult BLACK-HEADED GULL just off the tip of Liebers Point at Branched Oak …

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Tracking Erwin: 4 years & 136 days later

Timeline of Erwin’s life over the last 4½ years.

Contributed by Lauren Dinan, Nongame Bird Biologist Erwin has been spotted again!  As many of you know, Erwin is our famous Piping Plover that hatched at a lakeshore housing development in Dodge County, Nebraska, in June 2011.  Over the last 4½ years we have been tracking Erwin’s movements across the United States.  We are able to track Erwin’s movements because we placed colored leg bands on Erwin when she was a 3-day old chick back in 2011.  We have tracked …

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Playing with one’s food (tragedy of a House Sparrow)

Cooper's Hawk

As we move into late fall and winter more and more bird feeders will be put up and filled with seed.  As birds concentrate at feeders they are susceptible to an ambush from one raptor species lurking in suburban environments.    Cooper’s Hawk are a species of accipiter, a type of hawk.  Cooper’s Hawks have long tails and rounded wings which allows them to maneuver around obstacles with ease.  Cooper’s Hawks are birds of open woodlands and the obstacles they typically weave …

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Distinguishing Whooping Cranes from similar species


The period when Whooping Cranes migrate through Nebraska is here.  Whooping Cranes migrate from breeding sites at Wood Buffalo Park, Canada, to their wintering sites at and near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, every fall.  In four to six weeks, hopefully the entire Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock of about 300 birds will have successfully migrated to Texas.   Migrating 2,500 miles is risky business and this is a critical few weeks for these birds.   NGPC, along with our partners, rely on the …

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Peregrine news: Orozco re-sighted (away from Lincoln)


Back in September I received a note from the Bird Banding Lab that one of our banded birds had been re-sighted.  Initially, I thought it was probably a Piping Plover or a Least Tern since those species are mostly what we band.  When I looked at the band number it was obviously a larger species.  I immediately suspected Peregrine Falcon.  A quick band number look-up revealed it was the band we used on Orozco, the Peregrine Falcon hatched at the Capitol this …

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From the mailbag – flocks of hawks?


I recently blogged about one “slice” of migrating songbirds which are currently gracing us with their presence.  All sorts of birds are migrating through Nebraska right now.  The end of September and early October brings a few notable migratory peaks that people notice each year and often inquire what species they have observed.  Franklin’s Gulls numbers are peaking as they move through the central Plains; I blogged about this spectacle a couple years ago.  There is also a raptor whose numbers are …

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A slice of September migrants


Migration is going by quickly.  A few laggards not withstanding, many birds such as kingbirds, wood-pewees and orioles are gone for the year, not to be seen again until next spring.  Every week, and often on the heels of each cold front, we have the opportunity to enjoy a different assemblage of migrant birds.  Some migrants only appear in our area for brief periods each spring and fall as they travel between wintering and breeding areas and then back.  What is …

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