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Nongame Bird Blog

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Eagles

The cold weather has settled in and with it comes Bald Eagles.  Away from reliable winter eagle viewing spots such as Lake Ogallala during the depths of winter, eagle viewing is generally best in Nebraska when large reservoirs and rivers are transitioning from open water to ice and vice versa.   Bald Eagle numbers increase as birds that breed to the north of us are migrating through our state.  Open water “holes” amid the sheet of ice attract and concentrate …

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Reunited and It Feels So Good

Two years ago, about this time of year, I had an juvenile Rufous Hummingbird visiting my backyard feeder.  Late November and Nebraska are not the best combination for a hummingbird.  Once this little bird started to struggle and the outlook for its survival over the winter became dim, it was deposited at the Henry Doorly Zoo.  Here, the bird found refuge at the butterfly pavilion. Last week, I was back at the Henry Doorly Zoo.  I inquired whether the little …

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Birding Keya Paha County

Work duties allow me to travel to all parts of the state and this past weekend I was stationed at the Turbine Mart in Springview, Keya Paha County, to check deer during opening weekend of firearm season.    Even though I was overwhelmingly consumed by work, I did have some slivers of time to enjoy some of the beautiful sights and birds in this area.   The Niobrara River valley is a remarkable place and birds were surprisingly numerous.  Large flocks …

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These are Whooping Cranes

Last month I blogged about Whooping Crane identification because, I knew then, Whooping Crane would soon be moving through the state.  Well, a few birds have been observed in the state.  NGPC Southwest District Staff reported and documented twelve Whooping Cranes stopping-over in Frontier County last week.  Some photos were taken and these are shared, below.  Special thanks to Chad Taylor for his work reporting these Whoopers and also to Terry Perks for the photographs.

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A Different Kind of Duck Hunting

This time of fall is exciting for us duck hunters.  Each cold front brings down another flight of migrating waterfowl.  The wonderment of what could be out there is overwhelming.  Arriving mid-morning on the scene to find a monstrous raft of ducks on the water is exhilarating.  Of course, blood begins pulsing  as you set-up your Kowa or Leica spotting scope on its window-mount and you begin to methodically sift through the flock, identifying individual birds to species and anticipating …

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A tale of two pipits (wait, what’s a pipit?)

One of the purposes of doing this blog is to hopefully expose a few people to new things about Nebraska’s birds and birding.  On Thursday morning last week, Lauren Dinan and I made a trek, a pilgrimage if you don’t mind a little bit of hyperbole, to Audubon’s Spring Creek Prairie near Denton.  This was a no nonsense trip seeking one thing……to find the elusive Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii).  Not only were our efforts rewarded with a Sprague’s, but we …

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Whooping Cranes are coming: will you know one, if you see one?

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 has 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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Hey bird dude: I found a bird band, now tell me about the bird

This letter arrived in the Nongame Bird Program mailbag late last week: Mr. Jorgensen: I found this tag [bird band] on Holmes Golf Course in Lincoln.  A Red-tailed Hawk and one of its offspring were eating whatever this tag was attached to.  Please send me any info you get regarding this tag.  I’m curious to know what the raptors were eating.  Thanks, – Jerry in Lincoln. Jerry: Thanks for the letter and for sending in the bird band.   Different bird …

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Searching for mythical creatures; enjoying what was found

Sasquatch, chupacabra, Yellow Rail and White-eyed Vireo have long been mythical creatures, at least for me in Nebraska.  I’ll leave the two mammals to be discussed elsewhere (this IS a blog about birds).   On the other hand, I have long sought to find the two mythical birds in Nebraska. The Yellow Rail is a small marshbird that should migrate through Nebraska in spring and fall between breeding and wintering areas.   It has only been documented on a handful …

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Hey bird dude, what’s with all the gulls?

Recently, I have heard comments and received questions (as this post’s title implies) from individuals wondering about all the gulls in our area over the last week or so.  Sometimes people call these birds “seagulls” and question why a “sea” bird would be observed in such numbers in the middle of a continent.  First, let’s not use the word seagull, the word gull is sufficient.  Second, there are many species of gull and several occur far from coasts and seas.  …

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