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Wildlife

Mallard X Northern Pintail hybrid

Sifting through large flocks of common species searching for uncommon or rare birds is a standard practice of birding, particularly during Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) when one of the objectives is to rack up as many species as possible.   On Saturday, 28 December, on the North Platte CBC, my party (group of birders) was sifting through a couple thousand Mallards and several hundred Canada and Cackling Geese at Bowley’s Pond.  We were successful at finding a few Greater White-fronted and …

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Top 10 Nebraska birding stories of 2013

At the end of last year, I blogged about my picks for the top ten birding/bird stories in Nebraska for 2012.  Here we are again, near the conclusion of another year and it is time to do it again.  So with no further adieu, in reverse order from ten to one, my top ten for 2013. #10 – Acorn Woodpecker:  A mega-rarity for Nebraska, an Acorn Woodpecker was discovered by Byron and Deb Alberts in Hayes County in June.  The …

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Minky

Mink are one of my favorite animals.  I am sure part of the reason for that is that it is in my blood.  My Gramps Roth trapped and mink were one of the most profitable and valued catches on his trap-line.  They have always been my favorite fur-bearer to trap too, Back on The Line. I spend most of my time fishing in a pair of waders.  Another reason I love mink is I often encounter them while I am …

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Winter birds from the weekend’s CBCs

I was out and about this past weekend helping on Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), which I recently blogged.  The Lincoln CBC was held on Saturday and the Branched Oak Lake/Seward CBC occurred on Sunday.  The early December cold snap relinquished its grip and weather was actually pleasant.  The cold snap froze most water bodies and reduced the overall number of species and bird numbers.   At this point, I have not heard of any major surprises discovered.  Nevertheless, I was …

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Bald Eagle nest numbers take unexpected dip in 2013

Bald Eagle nest monitoring is an annual project of the Nongame Bird Program.  Fortunately, we are assisted by numerous partners and individuals such as the National Park Service-Missouri River National Recreational River, the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Bald Eagles bred in the state historically but were absent as a breeding species for at least a century, if not longer.   Not all that long ago, Bald Eagles were state and federally listed as …

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Christmas Bird Counts – A Tradition Like No Other

I, like many other dedicated birders, will be out in the elements this upcoming Saturday searching for birds as Christmas Bird Count (CBCs) season kick off.  CBCs are several things:  serious birding, volunteerism, a little bit of socializing, a dash of competition, citizen science and just getting outside during a season when it can be a little too easy to find excuses not to venture out.  CBCs were initiated in 1900 by Frank Chapman as an alternative to Christmas side …

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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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The Third Eyelid: Observations of the Nictitating Membrane

Since fish have fluid constantly cleaning debris from their eyes, their use of eyelids for this purpose is not needed. However, as animals have moved through evolutionary history from water to land, the eye has slowly evolved to include the eyelid and tear ducts, whose purposes were to help keep the eye clear and clean. Yet for an animal such as a bird that is often in constant motion, creating the potential for additional dryness and debris to interrupt the …

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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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