Birder's Guide

MAR 2015

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/477970

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55 March 2015 | Birder's Guide to Travel 5 5 h | i d ' i d l spring can fnd Violet-green Swallows prospecting for nest cavities in newly charred stumps and stubs. Lewis's Woodpeckers swoop in to breed on hillsides once popu- lated by chattering Red Crossbills, and White-winged Juncos move across the ridge, replaced for a few years or a few de- cades by horizon-loving Vesper Sparrows. At frst it feels like loss to see a familiar forest burnt, but time, perspective, and a long walk have a way of showing us that it's really only change. The westernness of western Nebraska is only part of its charm: after all, nearly every bird found here can be found, some of them more eas- ily, in Colorado or Wyoming or South Dakota. What the Nebraska Panhandle offers better than any place is an array of western wonders piquantly mixed with an almost equally extensive eastern avifauna. The Plumbeous Vireos of the Pine Ridge streamsides chant their buzzy songs against an acoustic backdrop of Ovenbirds and American Redstarts; an occasional Broad-winged Hawk soars its way north with the April focks of Swainson's Hawks. Cassin's Kingbirds and Red-headed Woodpeckers squabble over the best fycatching perches, and Indigo and Lazuli buntings, Spotted and Eastern towhees, and Rose-breasted and Black- headed grosbeaks make their own special accommodations. There's a lot happening out in that blank spot on the map: more than the New Yorker (or even the New Yorker) might imagine. In terms of bang for the birding buck, the Nebraska Panhandle offers an experience you'll be hard pressed to match anywhere. c a d e s b y h o r i z A t f a m p e r h a v i t ' s T N e c h a b i r s o m i l y , o r N e b e t o f n r d W o o d p e c k e r s m i x e d w i t h a n a l m o s t e q u a l l y e x t e n s i v e Recent years have seen a massive improvement in the in- formation available to birders who want to visit western Nebraska. Richard C. Rosche's two-part series, "Birding In Western Nebraska", published in the June 1994 (pp. 178– 189) and December 1994 (pp. 416–423) issues of Birding , remains an excellent guide to some of the best sites in the panhandle; the same very knowledgeable author's "Birding Pristine Nebraska" (pp. 1–6 of the June 1990 Winging It ) is also helpful. Though habitat changes may affect the list of species that today's visitor encounters at the sites in Rosche's guides, those localities remain productive and attractive. NebraskaBirdingTrails.com provides very good, fre- quently updated online directions and descriptions for hun- dreds of birding sites in the state; some spots are also linked into longer routes, providing the visiting birder a ready-made itinerary. A Nebraska Bird-Finding Guide by Paul Johnsgard, long the state's preeminent ornithologist, can be printed at no cost from digitalcommons.unl.edu. Visitors to western Nebraska can also ask for advice and recommendations from participants in the friendly and infor- mative NEBirds Yahoo! group. The Nebraska Ornithologists' Union (noubirds.org), one of the oldest state ornithologi- cal and birding organizations, publishes the Nebraska Bird Review and the Burrowing Owl. s p r i n g c a n f n d V i o l e t g r e e n Ferruginous Hawk. Photo © Alan Vernon McCown's Longspur. Photo © Jacob Spendelow

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