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Five essential spring birding trips – #2

Spring is a terrific time for birds and birding.  Over the next few weeks, I will be 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 that we are in the latter days of winter, it is time to pencil in dates and make plans.   I began with #1 and now #2 is up today and may occur at …

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Birds Count: From the Backyard and Beyond

A hooded merganser swims a quiet creek. A cardinal sings from a bird feeder on a bare cottonwood branch. A bald eagle crisscrosses the blue sky. Observed in a single morning, these birds were part of millions–33,464,616 to be exact –that made up the final tally of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) in 2013 when participants in 111 countries submitted 137,998 checklists, documenting more than one-third of the world’s bird species in just four days. Want to be a part of the experience? …

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Duck Speeds

Gauging speed in miles-per-hour (mph) began in the 1700s when stage coaches established timetables, then came into common usage with the arrival of railroads and even more so when automobiles appeared on the scene. Estimating the speed of ducks by hunters could not have been far behind, as missing a shot at a duck crossing at 60 mph sounds more accurate that “pretty darn fast” or “zoomed by like a meteor.” But it was not until airplanes became more common …

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Five essential spring birding trips – #1

Spring is a terrific time for birds and birding.  Over the next few weeks, I will be 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 that we are in the latter days of winter, it is time to pencil in dates and make plans.   I begin at #1 with the most famous and familiar and I will end …

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Snowy Owl Update

I blogged earlier this year that Nebraska is west of this year’s Snowy Owl invasion.  Over the past week, there have been two new Nebraska reports to add to the single one from December.  The first was reported to NEbirds and involved an owl at Eppley Airfield in Omaha on 28 January 2014.  The owl was apparently photographed.  The second report actually occurred earlier, but just reached my desk over the weekend.   Judy Blunk was the lucky observer and found …

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Wings Over the Platte Features Life on the River

The regions oldest and largest artist exhibit dedicated to life on the Platte River, Wings Over The Platte, opens with a reception tonight (Feb. 13) from 6-8 p.m. at the Venue next to Bartenbach’s Galleries in downtown Grand Island. Hosted by the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, the exhibit is free and open to the public. “It’s a very unique time for us,” Joe Black, Executive Director of the Stuhr Museum, said in reference to the relocation of the …

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Skunk Spawn

I was a little late getting home for supper the other night.  Many times I can get a lot done in the office after 5:00 p.m.. after the phone stops ringing.  As I parked my pickup on the street and walked to the front door, I heard a great horned owl hooting.  Now I live in Lincoln, within the city limits, but there are a lot of trees and apparently a great horned owl was in listening distance.  I woke …

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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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