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Nongame Bird Blog

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 …

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Peregrine Falcons lay second clutch of eggs

The Peregrine Falcons at the Capitol seem to always have another surprise to pull out of their bag of tricks.   On Saturday afternoon, in record heat, the female Peregrine Falcon laid an egg in the nest box.  Another egg was laid overnight Monday. This late nesting attempt comes about three weeks after their first attempt failed.  As explained in this press release from back in April, the first nesting attempt was in a gutter at the base of the Capitol’s dome.  …

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Mega-rarity: Swainson’s Warbler at Wilderness Park

It has been a terrific spring for warblers all over eastern Nebraska.  Over twenty species reported and there have been multiple reports of rare species such as Cape May, Blue-winged, and Worm-eating.  The good spring went into overdrive on Wednesday (15 May) when a singing Swainson’s Warbler was discovered by Ruthie Stearns in Wilderness Park in south Lincoln.  Swainson’s Warbler is a species with a relatively dull plumage compared to other warblers and it breeds in the southeastern United States.  It …

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What in the world of ol’ coots is happening here?

A little over a week ago I was out birding (something I tend to do in my free time).  I was out in the Rainwater Basin in Butler County and I was going to swing by a wetland that is bisected by a county road.  As I approached, there were several American Coots walking on the road, which is not unusual.  Most of the coots skedaddled back to the water as I got closer, except for one.   One coot seemed …

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Near miss

On Friday, I got up early in the morning to follow up on a Whooping Crane report in Polk County.  On my way up there, I encountered two Peregrine Falcons close to North Lake Basin Wildlife Management Area near Utica.  One of the birds was on a dead American Coot on a county road and the other took off.  The bird on the kill on the road remained and I was able to capture a few photos. The time I …

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Gearing up for Peregrines – 2018

It is officially spring and with it comes another year of Peregrine Falcons. We got things kicked off on Tuesday when we made a trip down to the Capitol to set up the live video feed set-up on the first floor, add a little bit of pea gravel to the nest box and clean off the camera lenses. For better or worse, we did not encounter any birds during our visit.  Everything I have seen indicates the same two birds that …

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Peregrine news: Lewis likely spotted in Texas

It has been a while since I’ve heard from our friends working for the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in The Woodlands, Texas.  On a few occasions over the past few years I’ve received emails, usually accompanied with a photo, informing me that the Peregrine Falcon “Lewis” was observed sitting on a ledge on their office building.   Lewis hatched at the Capitol in 2012 and is the sibling of Clark, who has taken up residence at the Omaha Public Power District’s north …

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Bald Eagle nest numbers fly past 200 in 2017

The Bald Eagle’s comeback continues unabated.  We just finished crunching the numbers for 2017 and our estimated total of active nests in Nebraska last year is 209.  This is the first time Bald Eagles nest numbers have exceeded 200 in Nebraska in recorded history.   The species likely bred historically, but was extirpated prior to 1900.  In 1991, Bald Eagles successfully nested in the state for the first time in more than a century.  The 2017 total also represents a 29% …

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2018 Breeding Bird Survey routes (still) available

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.  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 routes.  Running a BBS requires only one morning in June to complete.  It is a great way …

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Lower Platte River CBC summary

The first Lower Platte River Christmas Bird Count (CBC) took place on 4 January 2018.   It was a hoot starting a new CBC and I was not certain about what would be recorded, especially considering the recent spell of extremely cold weather.   Below, I provide a summary of the CBC and rundown of the results. Coverage area:  The new CBC encompasses a large chunk of Sarpy County and adjacent areas of Cass County.   The big bend in the Platte River …

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