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Wildlife

Nebraska Crane Festival Celebrates Stunning Spectacle

As the Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival celebrates 44 years in the Platte River valley this weekend, the Sandhill cranes will have commemorated a few more – at least 2.5 million more, that is. Fossil evidence suggests the Sandhill crane may be the oldest living bird species on the planet. On their ancient migratory pathway from wintering in southern U.S. and Mexico to their breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska, they converge along a small swath of braided channels on the Platte River each spring. This …

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My Marsh Madness: Selection Sunday Light Goose Hunt

Yesterday was an exciting day for college basketball in this state with both Creighton and Nebraska qualifying for the March Madness of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in the same region (congrats to both the Jays and the Huskers, and they may even end up playing each other!). But for me, ‘selection Sunday’  as it is so named, meant ‘marsh madness.’ As you may be able to tell, I spent the entire day hunting light geese (Snow and Ross’s geese) during the Conservation Order hunting period on a friend …

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Five essential spring birding trips – #4

Spring is a terrific time for birds and birding.  I am currently in the middle of highlighting five birding trips and experiences that all outdoor enthusiasts should consider attempting this year.  Certainly there are hundreds more out there for the taking, but I’ll start slow.  Now is time to pencil in dates and make plans.   Essential spring birding trips #1 and #2 focused on migration spectacles, #3 is focused on prairie grouse courtship and #4 returns to the Rainwater Basin …

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Searching for Nebraska Piping Plovers in Texas

Last week, I was in Galveston, Texas, for the Central Flyway meeting and I had the opportunity to spend a little over 24 hours searching for “our” Piping Plovers in nearby wintering habitats.  Lauren Dinan and I have blogged (for example, here and here) about our Piping Plover color-banding program we do in collaboration with the University of Nebraska’s Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership.  We color-band Piping Plovers on and along the lower Platte River in eastern Nebraska, where they …

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Burning Cedar Tree Piles at Grove Lake WMA

In an effort to reclaim native grassland ridges and openings, biologists at Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area near Royal have been cutting down eastern red cedar trees that have overrun many parts of the WMA. Although native to Nebraska, cedar trees are often invasive. They thrive and spread quickly, and if left unchecked, cedars can take over a piece of ground in just a few years, choking out more desirable vegetation and wildlife species that depend on open grassland. Like …

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Come Crane Watching on WOWT 6 Outdoors

On this week’s edition of my Weekly Outdoor Report on Omaha’s WOWT 6 News, we’re heading to Nebraska’s central Platte River valley between Grand Island and Kearney to view the spectacular spring migration stopover of sandhill cranes and other wild fowl. It’s quite an experience! Check out these great photos of the cranes taken by co-worker Katie Stacey of our NE Game and Parks Omaha-Metro Office. Here’s an audio sample of the crane migration: Experience the movement and sounds of …

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What we do with dead eagles

Most Nongame Bird Program responsibilities are tasks we rarely, if ever, discuss or draw attention to in a public setting such as this one.  In most cases the reasons are obvious.  A quick way to bore everyone is to to discuss the thrills of data management or write about the excitement of reading a lengthy proposed regulation in the Federal Register.  Sometimes the task seems ordinary and perfunctory.  Such is the case with what we do with dead eagles.  It …

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Kangaroose

As you may be aware, the spring migration of light geese (Snow and Ross’s Geese) is underway Nebraska, as is the Light Goose Conservation Order hunting period. But, as with a number of things in nature like migratory game birds, something strange has occurred amid the flocks of wild snow geese, according to hunters. A mythical, winged creature has emerged – a genetic mutation, if you will. It was spotted just recently in extreme southern Nebraska hopping around a decoy spread. The creature appears to be part snow goose and …

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Brewer’s Duck

Over President’s Day weekend, a key associate and I took a birding trip to Nebraska’s western reservoirs.  We visited Lakes McConaughy and Ogallala, which were both iced over with the exception of a little open water in the spillway.  On the evening of 15 February, we observed an odd puddle duck which I identified as a “Brewer’s Duck”.  Perhaps you’ve never heard of this species and there is good reason.  “Brewer’s Duck” is the name John James Audubon gave a …

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Panhandle Passages: Chopper Time

From the rocky buttes of the Wildcat Hills near Gering to the evergreen-studded canyons near Bassett, a helicopter crew put in time for Nebraska’s big game conservation efforts during the past week and month. I’ve been fortunate to be up close and personal with some of their air time. Last week, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission used the help of a contracted helicopter crew of California-based Native Range Capture Services to catch bighorn sheep and elk and provide the …

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