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Nongame Bird Blog

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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They grow up so quickly

Contributed by Nongame Bird Biologist Lauren Dinan More on Piping Plovers! Last week I blogged about our Piping Plover banding program in which we work in cooperation with the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln School of Natural Resources.  A great part of this banding program is being able to watch our birds as they grow from little fluffballs, to awkward teenagers, and to adults that travel across the United States. The Piping Plover pictured above …

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A Picture is data – worth a thousand words

Contributed by Nongame Bird Biologist Lauren Dinan Research and monitoring are tasks the Nongame Bird Program are constantly engaged in, often with valued partners. In studies of threatened and endangered species sometimes a picture can be worth a thousand words for its beauty; it can also be an important data point. In the case of color-banded Piping Plovers, quality photographs confirm a bird’s identity and status, and provide insight into Piping Plover distribution, population dynamics, and behaviors. Our Program works …

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Leucism reported in Nebraska birds

Cases of leucism have been reported in Nebraska birds at each end of state over the past few weeks.  Before taking cover in your bunker with concerns about the next avian-related pandemic, it might be useful to define leucism.  Leucism is a type of abnormal coloration in a bird’s plumage.  Specifically, it is variable amounts of either white or pale coloration in feathers that typically have pigment.  Even though leucism is rare, it is regularly observed.  I receive a few …

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Alternative hypotheses accepted

On Thursday morning, while taking some personal time (to go birding, of course), I stumbled across an unexpected situation.  The photo essentially captures what I observed. This poor Great Blue Heron was out in the deep, about 30 feet from shore, looking more like a loon from the distance I initially spotted the bird.  As most people know, Great Blue Herons are birds of the shoreline, not open water.  I watched this bird for about an hour to figure out …

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