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Mega-rarity: Fulvous Whistling-Ducks at Wagon Train Lake

On Tuesday (6/5) evening, I was leaving a meeting with a group of folks that included Mark Vrtiska, who is the Commission’s Waterfowl Program Manager.  Mark was checking his phone and got some big news from Matt Haugen, a biologist that works in the Waterfowl Program.  Matt passed along via a text that he found four Fulvous Whistling-Ducks at Wagon Train Lake, Lancaster County, earlier in the day.  Matt included photos of the birds with his text and there was no question that he nailed the identification.   I quickly let a couple contacts know about the sighting.  The group I was with quickly jump in our vehicle and headed back to Lincoln as it had been a long day.   One of the individuals in which I provided the information quickly bolted down to Wagon Train Lake and relocated the four birds in the evening.  I got down there about 8:00 p.m. and also easily relocated the whistling-ducks.  A few of my mediocre photos* are below.  Other birds in the photos are Mallard and Canada Geese (adults and goslings).

The four Fulvous Whistling-Ducks were still present on Saturday morning and have been seen by many birders.  Better quality photos of the birds can be found at the following links:




Fulvous Whistling-Ducks are a southern species that regularly occurs along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, as well as in Florida.   This species wanders widely and there are records from all states that border Nebraska with the exception of Wyoming.   Nebraska, though, does not have any previous records and so this occurrence appears destined to be a first state record.   What a great find by Matt!

Good birding.

*Photos originally used on this blog post were replaced with better quality ones captured on Saturday (6/9).

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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