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Final Day

January 31.  It’s here, arriving with little fanfare, if any at all.  Dreaded by some, ignored by most, it is the last day of the upland bird season. And like the many that have come before it, I will be hunting. I am drawn to the final day of chasing birds for reasons I can explain and a few I cannot.  But, the simple fact is this is my last chance to hunt them for 7 months – 9 for pheasant and …

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2014 Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) opportunities

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.  I use BBS data all the time, including in my recent blog post about Black-capped Chickadees.  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 …

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How a sandpiper’s bill is like an elephant’s trunk

All birds have bills, but different bills are used differently.  Rather than going on a prolonged digression about bills, it may be more useful to show rather than tell.  Typically, we think of bills as hard, inflexible and unfeeling.  They are comprised of bone and keratin and are used to grab, crack, poke and rip things.  That is certainly an apt description for many bird species, but not all.  Sandpiper’s bills are different.  Take a look at the photographs of …

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Bald Eagle Days

Looking for something to do this weekend? Check out Bald Eagle Days at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center by Gavins Point Dam! Bald eagles have become a common winter resident in Nebraska and now is the perfect time to see them. To find out more about bald eagles in Nebraska, please visit http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/wildlife/wildlife_species_guide/eagles.asp

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Chickadees, Devastation, & the Long Road Back

A little over a decade ago, a novel disease was sweeping across North America from east to west.  In 2002, West Nile Virus (WNV) reached Nebraska and had immediate impacts.  Humans, livestock, and birds were susceptible to WNV and consequences were dire in some instances. As we all hopefully know, mosquitoes were and are WNV’s main transmission vector. Now, with more than a decade’s worth of experience and perspective, WNV has become part of life.   It remains dangerous, but we …

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Sometimes Hunting Becomes Hunting with a Camera

OUTDOOR TIP: Always, and I mean always, take a camera you with you on any outdoor adventure to capture lasting images of the experience. The camera, whether it’s on your iPhone, Smart Phone, or is a small pocket-sized digital camera, or even is a large digital one with a foot-long lens, helps to lock in memories and validate outdoor stories. Here’s my camera, nothing fancy, but it does the job fairly well. I took my camera with me yesterday afternoon to my buddy Steve’s farm in Saunders County, …

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Seeing “Cool” Eagles on WOWT 6 Outdoors

Don’t miss my weekly WOWT 6 News Outdoors segment Thursday evening when we cover winter bald eagle viewing in Nebraska. Everyone I know, including myself, marvels at the sight of a bald eagle in the wild! Here’s a photo of a bald eagle at the Ak-sar-ben Aquarium/Schramm Park State Recreation Area near Gretna, NE. Cool, huh? How about another photo of a bald eagle from that same area? Find out more information about bald eagle viewing opportunities by tuning in to The Weekly …

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The Year of the Snowy Owl?

There has been a notable irruption of Snowy Owls during the winter of 2013-14.    Indeed, Snowy Owls are all over the news.  They were even featured on CBS television’s evening newscast on Thursday.   All this talk has some people wondering how many Snowy Owls have been observed in Nebraska this winter.  Good question, easy answer.  The one and only report was a bird found by Michael Burgert in Pawnee County on 21 December.  His cell phone photo documentation is shown …

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A Whole Lot of Rough-legs Going On

Snowy Owls receive a lot of attention when they venture south to the conterminous U.S., as well they should.  However, there is another stunning Arctic-breeding raptor species that regularly travels south to places like Nebraska.  It generally receives little fanfare.  If you’ve traveled around the state recently (and were conscious), you’ve likely seen one or two, maybe 22.   The species I am referring to is the Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus).  Like Snowy Owls, numbers fluctuate from year to year. …

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Spotted…Again

Contributed by Nongame Bird Biologist Lauren Dinan As we are set to endure the coldest temperatures in years, “our” famous home grown Piping Plover was once again photographed on a warm beach.  Something to ponder as you shiver.  More importantly, these photographic reports document a bird’s  travels.  As you may remember from a post a few months ago, we work in cooperation with the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln School of Natural Resources in …

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