Winter Field Report, December 2010 to February 2011

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Silcock, W. Ross
Ornithology; Poultry or Avian Science; Zoology
article description
This winter was pretty much a rerun of last, although perhaps not as severe; I could have used last winter's Introduction again. If there was an overall theme, it would be the widespread occurrences of species that would not be expected to linger into late December and January. Several species of waterbirds, notably Blue-winged Teal, scoters, Ruddy Duck, Common Loon, and Homed and Red-necked Grebes were in this category. Large numbers of Western Grebes were still at Lake McConaughy in early January, and surprisingly late individuals of Black-crowned Night-Heron and Plegadis ibis were located. Mourning Doves were in good numbers in the southeast, and, among passerines, Hermit Thrushes were in good numbers, also. Late surprises among sparrows included Clay-colored, Chipping, and Field. Other daringly late passerines included two (!) Ruby-crowned Kinglets at Ogallala in February, and a Wilson's Warbler in December in Scotts Bluff Co. Things are happening with some woodpeckers; for the second consecutive winter, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were everywhere, and Pileateds continue to expand their range northward in the Missouri Valley. This was a great year for Snow Buntings, even better than last year's good showing.Rarities were scarce; prominent of course was the carryover Ross's Gull from fall, but almost unbelievable was another Ross's Gull in Lancaster Co. in early December while the Gavins Point bird was still present. Also a carryover story, but apparently ending sadly, was the Brown-headed Nuthatch saga in Lincoln; 2 birds were last reported in mid-December, and the last sighting was at the end of January. Otherwise, rare birds were the Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Junco and a small group of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, both in Scotts Bluff Co.