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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.

Top ten birding stories of 2016

It is difficult to believe we are closing out 2016 this week.   As with the end of any year, it seems the thing to do is to reflect on the year that was, particularly in regards to the year in birds and birding in Nebraska.  Below, I count down, from ten to one (with an honorable mention for good measure), the year’s top birding stories here in our state.   This is all my opinion – so my results may differ …

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Record breaker: Harlan County CBC recap

The Harlan County Christmas Bird Count (CBC) took place 15 December and it set a record.  Previous Harlan County CBC’s were held in consecutive years from 1996-2001 and the CBC resumed in 2014.  Below, I provide a summary of the results from the 2016 edition of the Harlan County CBC.   Conditions:  Weather was obviously cold ahead of the CBC.  The lake was about 80% open, but all other water bodies, including the Republican River, were mostly or completely frozen.  We …

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Duck hunt yields rare bird

R.J. Weiss contacted me today about a duck he shot yesterday.  The duck happened to be the first one he has harvested even though he has gone duck hunting on previous occasions.   The duck turned out to be a bit unusual, as can be seen in his photographs, below. As R.J. suspected, the bird is a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck.  This southern species is normally found in southern Texas and points south.  Populations of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are increasing and birds occasionally wander …

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Peregrine news: Lewis back in Texas

If your memory is very good, you’ll remember that two years ago we received word that the Peregrine Falcon “Lewis” was observed at the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation building in The Woodlands, Texas.  Lewis was also observed at this same location in December 2015.   Lewis hatched, was raised and banded at the Capitol in 2012.  I received an email late today from Linda Kuhn with Anadarko that Lewis was back at this apparent wintering site.  Below is the photo that accompanied …

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Chasing the Cherry County Canyon Wren

Confirmation came last week that a wren hanging out at a remote Cherry County ranchstead was, in fact, a Canyon Wren, a species with only three other accepted Nebraska records.  Canyon Wrens are normally found in mountainous areas of western North America and there is a population as close as the Black Hills of South Dakota.  But, this species does not wander all too often.  The last “chase-able” Canyon Wren in the state was a bird in Knox County in …

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Breeding Bird Survey routes available for 2017

The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a long-term, volunteer-driven bird monitoring program conducted throughout North America.  BBS data are used widely by wildlife agencies, researchers, birders and conservation planners.  The program began in 1966 and more information about the BBS can be found here.  I am the state BBS coordinator and perhaps my principal duty is to identify and recruit individuals to fill vacant routes.  Running a BBS requires only one morning in June to complete.  It is a great …

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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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19/K is released

Monday, October 3rd, was a good day because the long time resident male Peregrine Falcon, 19/K, was released back at the Capitol by Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery (FFRR).  As you certainly remember, 19/K was found injured and on the ground in Lincoln way back on June 6th.  After he was rescued, FFRR quickly determined he suffered a dislocated elbow.  FFRR treated 19/K, but it took time for him to recover, gain strength and get in condition to be released.  19/K is obviously a fighter, …

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Tracking Erwin: 5 years & 87 days later

Contributed by Lauren Dinan, Nongame Bird Biologist Erwin has once again safely made it back to Florida and is set to spend her sixth winter in a row in the sunshine state!  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 five years we have been tracking Erwin’s movements across the United States and she has successfully made the 1,000 plus …

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Piping Plovers: The perils of the first migration

Contributed by Lauren Dinan, Nongame Bird Biologist Last week I posted a story about a Piping Plover that successfully completed its first migration and arrived safely along the U.S. Gulf Coast only two months after hatching in Nebraska. Last week’s story highlighted how remarkable it is that these birds travel over 900 miles or more only a couple short months after hatching. This post is about the perils of migration and, unfortunately, the story does not end happily-ever-after. The reality is …

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