Southern Great Plains: Fall 2016

1 Aug—30 Nov 2016

Joseph A. Grzybowski, Oklahoma|

W. Ross Silcock, Nebraska

Recommended citation:

Grzybowski, J. A. and Silcock, W. R. 2020. Fall 2016: Southern Great Plains. <> North American Birds

The dynamic influence of changing climate on bird distribution and behavior is a key topic currently; these reports for North American Birds will be a documentary to some of those changes. In the Southern Great Plains, we noted this season an array of late fall departures, along with limited distribution of some northern species. Gulls and some waterfowl showed poorly—apparently, they lingered north longer. Only one Thayer’s Gull was noted, in Nebraska, and there have been no Glaucous Gulls yet. The expected high concentrations of Common Mergansers were not yet forced south by northward freezing waters. Throughout the region, wading species, such as herons, egrets, ibises, and some shorebirds, departed late; so did a variety of landbirds.

There has been a gradual northwestward shift of some southeastern species in the region. This trend continues, though this season less noticeably. Some of the shifts in species maintaining metapopulation dynamics seemed dampened; birds like King Rail, Least Bittern, and Common Gallinule were not regaining ground in marshlands outside the extreme southeastern corner of the region, and even Black-bellied Whistling Duck—a regional newcomer—did not reenter some areas that were lost in the severe 2010-11 drought.

This season provided a strong suite of vagrants, ranging from ABA-rare Jabiru and Common Crane to exceptional regional records like Magnificant Frigatebird, Anna’s Hummingbird, and Hepatic Tanager. Classically, fall is a good season for extralimitals to turn up, and this fall in the Southern Great Plains was no exception.


Cheyenne Bottoms (Cheyenne Bottoms W.M.A., Barton, KS); Hackberry Flat (Hackberry Flat W.M.A., Tillman, OK); Hefner (L Hefner, Oklahoma, OK); McConaughy (L. McConaughy, Keith, NE); Quivira (Quivira N.W.R., Stafford, KS); Red Slough (Red Slough W.M.A., McCurtain, OK).

Contributors (sub regional editors in boldface)

NEBRASKA:  Mele Avery, Carla Barbaro, Michael Beck (MBe), Wendy Becker, Eric Bents, Mark Brogie, Doug Chapman, Larry Einemann, Kathy DeLara, Roger Dietrich, James E. Ducey, Paul Dunbar, William Flack, Tom Gannon, Alan Grenon, Greg and Deborah Grove (G&DG), Mace Hack, Robin Harding, Carr Heaney (CHe), Dave Heidt (DHe), Bill F. Huser, Esa Jarvi, Jan Johnson, Joel G. Jorgensen, Alice Kenitz, Clem N. Klaphake, Nina Koch, Ron Kruse, Steve Kruse, Josh LeFever (JLe), Dan Leger, Scott Luedtke (SLu), Robert Manning (RMa), Sam Manning (SMa), Steve Mlodinow, Nick Moore, Patrick Peters, Brian Peterson, Susan Quinn, Lanny Randolph, Neal Ratzlaff, Ed Raynor (ERa), Allen Reyer, Justin Rink, Paul Roisen, Jennifer Rycenga (JRy), Rick Sammons (RSa). Rick Schmid, Mary S. Shoemaker, Matt Shurtliff, W. Ross Silcock, Dave Stage, T.J. Walker, Scott Wessel, Michael Willison, Rick Wright, Ray Zeilinger.  KANSAS:  Danny Akers (DAk), Nic Allen, Bob Broyles, Andrew Burnett, Will Chatfield-Taylor (WCT), Jeff Calhoun, Glenn Caspers, Kathy Carroll, David Dowell, Kathy Ellis, Corey Entriken, Tom Ewert, Matt Gearheart, Daniel George, Malcom Gold (MGo), Rob Graham, Kevin Groeneweg, Pete Janzen, Barry Jones, Don Kazmier, Jeff Keating (JKt), Jon King, Kaleb Kroeker, Mark Land, Larry Langstaff, Jonathan Lautenbach, Travis Mahan, Jim Malcom, Mick McHugh (MMH), Andrew Miller, Steve Mlodinow, Nick Moore, Lynette Mueller, Sue Newland, Bob Nieman, Chuck Otte, Jess Painter, Michael Pearce, Don Pinkston, Galen Pittman, Mike Rader, Devii Rao (DRa), Mark Robbins (MRo), Brett Sandercock, Scott Seltman, Tom & Sara Shane (T&SS), Max Thompson, Jonathan Vande Kopple (JVK), Mary Wilcox (MWi), Eugene Young, Linda Zempel.  OKLAHOMA:  Bill Adams, Linda Adams, David Arbour, James W. Arterburn, John Ault, Sandy Berger, Joe Buck, Bill Carrell, Cameron Carver, Jim Deming (JDe), Bill Diffin, Jenna Donnell, Melinda Droege, Josh Englebert, Caleb Frome, Dala Grissom (DGr), Joseph A. Grzybowski, Dick Gunn (DGu), Simon Harvey, Ford Hendershot, Glen Hensley, Steve Hodge (SHo), Daniel Horton, Todd Humphrey, John Hurd, Mitchell Jarrett (MJa), Matthew Jung, Esther Key, Patty Kirk, Scott Loss, Brian Marra, Chuck McGowan, Roy McGraw, Kurt Meisenzahl, Terry Mitchell (TMi), Tim O’Connell (TOC), Jerid & Daron Paterson (J&DP), Mark & Mary Peterson (M&MP), Zach Poland, Abbey Ramirez (ARa), Mia Revels (MRe), Justin Roach (JRo), Dan Robinson, Jana Singletary, Anthony Solorio, Paul Stoddard, Lou & Mary Truex (L&MT), Nadine Varner, Annette Wiseman-Vaughan (AWV), Ken & Carol Williams (K&CW), Ellie Womack, Doug Wood, Jimmy Woodard, Susan Zelek.

Whistling-Ducks through Hummingbirds

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks have established themselves in southern Oklahoma; the high count was 19 at Red Slough 23—31 Aug (DA); 4 in Johnston, OK 29 Nov (JRo), were rather late. There were 4 reports of the species in Kansas 27 Aug—8 Nov (fide CO), but none in Nebraska (fide WRS). The only report of the much rarer Fulvous Whistling-Duck was 4 at Hackberry Flat 16 Aug (L&MT). A Greater White-fronted Goose, summer vagrant, was in Kimball, NE 5 Sep (MW, ERa, JR). 2 Tundra Swans, a rare regional migrant, were in Washington, NE 27 Nov (BP), and provided the only report for the region. Surf Scoters were well-distributed 9 Oct—26 Nov, with 20+ in Nebraska (fide WRS), 4 in Kansas (fide CO), and one as far south as Tulsa, OK 25 Nov (JWA). 7 White-winged Scoters at 4 locations 11—28 Nov (fide WRS) were an average Nebraska showing. Black Scoter is the scarcest of the scoters in the region; there were 6 reports from Nebraska and Kansas 25 Oct—26 Nov (fide WRS, CO). Long-tailed Ducks turned up at Cheyenne Bottoms 6 Nov (SS), 2 adult females were in Harlan, NE 26 Nov (LR, RH), and 4 were in Lancaster, NE (SK). Common Mergansers stayed north of the region; by the end of the period, no large numbers had been reported. The pair of Red-necked Grebes at McConaughy 10—27 May and through 3 Sep did not show evidence of breeding (MW, ERa, JR); a molting bird lingered until 17 Oct (JGJ, ERa). A Red-necked Grebe in Creek, OK 27 Sep (SZ) was unexpected. The unusual summering of breeding Eared Grebes at Hackberry Flat continued with 34 noted 16 Aug (L&MT). A Western Grebe in Woodward, OK 12 Nov (CC) was the only fall report for the state.

Inca Doves persist in Lawton, OK and along the southern Oklahoma border; singles were at Red Slough 9 Aug (DA) and in Love 3 Sep (BA), and one was much farther north in Rogers 16 Sep (K&CW). A Common Ground-Dove, rare anywhere in the region, was found in Cowley, KS 13—17 Aug (MT). The 11 White-winged Doves at 6 Nebraska locations (fide WRS) has been typical through the last few summers; the 44 White-wingeds in Great Bend, Barton, KS 3 Sep (RG) was a good tally. Late Yellow-billed Cuckoos were in Chase, KS 16 Oct (DG, DRa) and Adair, OK 26 Oct (PK). Black-billed Cuckoo is declining in the region, and there were only 4 reports in Nebraska and 1 each in Kansas and Oklahoma: Russell, KS rather late 27 Sep (DK), and Washington, OK 17 Sep (MJa).  The highest estimate of Common Nighthawks was 300+ over Milford Lake, Geary, KS 25 Aug (DAk). A Common Poorwill lingered in Dawes, NE until 4 Oct (JLe), as did 3 Chimney Swifts in Sarpy, NE 17 Oct (AR), and a White-throated Swift over Scotts Bluff, NE 21 Sep (AK).

7 hummingbird species were recorded this season. Ruby-throateds continue to linger later and occur more often westerly; 2 of the latest for Nebraska were in Nebraska City 12 Oct (SQ) and Douglas 17 Oct (SMa). A Ruby-throated in Delaware, OK 24 Oct (EW), was also late, and others westerly were in Dawes, NE 3 Sep (JLe), Cherry, NE 31 Aug—11 Sep (JED), and Kearny, KS 10 Sep (JC), with 2 in Finney, KS 22 Sep (T&SS). A male Black-chinned Hummingbird was reported in Garfield, OK 6 Aug (BiD). The first Nebraska record for Anna’s Hummingbird was a female in an Omaha, Douglas yard 19 Nov—9 Dec (SMa, RMa, m.ob.).  Broad-tailed Hummingbirds entered the Nebraska Panhandle with one easterly to Lancaster, NE 15-25 Aug (JGJ); others were in Cowley, KS 1 Sep (EY), Smith, KS, 7 Sep (MR), and Cimarron, OK 19 Aug (DR). Surprisingly, there were only 2 reports of Rufous Hummingbird: one in Scotts Bluff, NE 3 Sep (MW, JR, ERa), and two easterly in Pottawatomie, OK 14—15 Aug (DGr).  Calliope Hummingbirds were noted in Scotts Bluff, NE 24-26 Aug (KD); Kansas reports came from Finney throughout Aug (T&SS) and Ford 14 Aug—5 Sep (WCT), easterly to Cowley 1 Sep (EY) and Pawnee 16 Sep (SS). 2 Calliope, rare in Oklahoma, were in Cimarron 12 Aug (DR). Finally, a record belatedly reported—but deserving mention—is a Costa’s Hummingbird, Nebraska’s second, at a Sarpy, NE feeder 16 Sep 2010 through the second week of Oct (RX fide DS).

Rails through Terns

King Rail, which, outside Red Slough, occurs erratically in the region, was noted in Nance, NE 7 Aug (MB), Neosho, KS on 5 Nov (AB), and Hackberry Flat 4 (K&CW) & 30 Sep (L&MT).  Purple Gallinule is now regular at Red Slough, lingering late this year to 1 Nov (DA). In this region, Common Gallinule has a similar distribution to King Rail; the only reports outside Red Slough were in Sarpy, NE 13 Aug (MS) and at Hackberry Flat on 20 Sep (6 birds; L&MT); it also lingered late at Red Slough this season, to 8 Nov (DA). The 10,000 American Coots at Quivira 2 Oct (EY) was one of the highest counts recorded in Kansas. In addition to the several known breeding sites for Sandhill Crane in Nebraska, a pair with 2 colts was seen 20 Aug in Brown (SW).  Oklahoma’s first Common Crane—a mega-rarity for the entire region—was in Texas, OK 17 Nov (DH) with a group of Sandhills. Whooping Cranes moved through the region in standard fashion 24 Oct-25 Nov, with a high count of 40 at Cheyenne Bottoms 12 Nov (BJ). 3 late Black-necked Stilts were in Sheridan, NE 2 Oct (G&DG), and an exceptionally late individual was at Hackberry Flat 11 Nov (L&MT); best counts were at Hackberry Flat with 253 on 9 Aug and 203 on 20 Sep (L&MT). Late Pluvialis at Hackberry Flat included 14 Black-bellied and 3 American Golden-Plovers 11 Nov (L&MT). 163 American Golden-Plovers in Seward, NE 26 Oct (JGJ) was both a high count and a late date; so was the 100 Snowy Plovers at Salt Plains NWR, Alfalfa, OK 5 Oct (GH). Another Snowy Plover, this at Quivira, was exceptionally late 12 Nov (JL).  Piping Plover is a rare migrant in Oklahoma; one was noted at Hefner 7 & 10 Aug (ZP, RM, AS). The only Mountain Plovers reported were 4 in Cimarron, OK 20 Sep (DH).

A late Upland Sandpiper was reported in Payne, OK 5 Oct (TOC). A Long-billed Curlew at Hefner, OK 8 Sep (BD), was easterly; the count of 27 at Hackberry Flat 17 Sep (L&MT) was exceptional. 4 late Marbled Godwits were in Alfalfa, OK to 16 Nov (GH). It seems Ruddy Turnstone is becoming scarcer; the only one reported was at Hefner 24 Sep (RM). Red Knot, a rare fall migrant, was at Quivira rather late on 8 Oct (MR). 38 Buff-breasted Sandpipers tallied in Tulsa, OK 6 Aug (JS) was a low tally for their peak migration period. Buff-breasteds are rare in the western region; 4 were in Hitchcock, NE 25 Aug (JGJ), 4 were in Ford, KS 4 Sep, and 4 were in adjacent Clark on the same date (MG, JC, WCT). A Semipalmated Sandpiper in Canadian, OK 26 Oct (ZP) was late. Only 4 Short-billed Dowitchers were reported during their expected seasonal window: 2 in Nebraska 6 & 13 Aug (PR, JGJ), one in Kansas 4 Sep (MG, JC, WCT), and one at Hefner 8 & 11 Sep (BD, EK). The 14 Long-billed Dowitchers at Quivira 29 Nov (MR) were late for Kansas. An American Woodcock in Sioux 13 Oct (SLu fide JGJ) was only the third record for the Nebraska Panhandle. Joining the medley of late shorebirds were: Spotted Sandpipers in Riley, KS 5 Nov (BS) and Hefner 25 Nov (BD); Solitary Sandpipers in Logan, OK 6 Nov (ZP) and Tulsa, OK 29 Nov (JWA); and Lesser Yellowlegs in Seward, NE 11 Nov (LE), at Quivira (4 birds) 29 Nov (MR), and 27 at Hackberry Flat, a noteworthy count for the late date of 11 Nov (L&MT). A Willet was tardy in Lancaster, NE 5 Sep (SK). A Red-necked Phalarope at McConaughy 16 Oct (ERa) was late for Nebraska; 2 were at Quivira 17 Oct (TM), with 4 reports in northwestern OK (Cimarron, Texas, and Alfalfa) 2 Sep—5 Oct (fide JAG).  A Red Phalarope in Lancaster, NE 22—27 Sep (MB, LE) was regionally rare.

A Black-legged Kittiwake in Osage, KS 11 Nov (DAk, SN), was a great find. The expected flush of Sabine’s Gulls occurred this year 17 Sep—6 Oct; 27 were reported in Nebraska (fide WRS, CO, JAG). There were two reports of Black-headed Gull, another regional rarity, from Marion, KS 15 Oct (TE) and Osage, KS 11 Nov (WCT, SN). Little Gull, also rare, was found at Cheyenne Bottoms 4 Nov (MGo, ML, KE); additionally, first-cycle birds were reported in Oklahoma 23—28 Oct (BD, m.ob.) and Cleveland, OK 23 Nov (JAG).  5 Laughing Gulls, regular but still rare, were reported: one in Sequoyah, OK 10 Sep (SB), 4 from separate locations in Kansas 5 Aug—27 Nov (JVK, MT, EY, T&SS), and one in Lancaster, NE 1 Aug (LE).  Away from McConaughy, California Gull has become less regularly reported in recent years. This season, one was at Hefner 25 Oct (BD), and 2 were in Lincoln, NE 28 Nov (TJW). The only fall report of Thayer’s Gull was of one in Cedar, NE 12—26 Nov (BFH, m.ob.); increasingly, they have been appearing later. Great Black-backed Gull is not annual in the region; one was in Cedar, NE 15—24 Nov (DC, MB). Now a regular species, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were noted 30 Aug—26 Nov (fide CO, fide JAG). Common Tern was reported from 3 Aug—17 Oct; 11 in Blaine, OK 9 Sep (ZP) was a good count.  Rare loon species in the region included: Red-throateds in Cedar, NE 11—14 Nov (RD, BFH, JJ) and Douglas, KS 15 Oct (fide CO); and Pacifics in Douglas, KS 8 Nov (4 birds; GP), Kingman, KS 13 Nov (KG), Pottawatomie, KS 29 Nov (MGo), Cedar, NE 24 Nov (MB), and Lancaster, NE 28 Nov (2 birds; LE). Summering Common Loons were in Richardson, NE through 26 Aug (SQ), Hefner through at least 16 Aug (JH), and Tulsa, OK through 9 Sep (SH).

Wood Stork through Falcons

20 Wood Storks in Coal, OK 9 Sep (fide DW), were extralimital. 3 Brown Pelicans were reported: a sub-adult at Cheyenne Bottoms 13 Aug (JK, MRo), and singles in Alfalfa, OK 4 Sep—30 Nov (J&DP, m.ob.) and Tulsa, OK 23—25 Oct (TH et al., TMi). A Magnificent Frigatebird 17 Oct at Lake Yahola, Tulsa, OK (Oxley Nature Center fide TMi), was exceptional and unexpected. American Bitterns summering south at Hackberry Flat were noted 16 Aug (7 birds; L&MT); another was found in Cleveland, OK 11 Aug (DGu). Least Bitterns summering west to Hackberry Flat were detected 10—16 Aug (MJ, JD, L&MT). Great Egrets in Douglas, KS 30 Nov (fide CO) and at Cheyenne Bottoms 21 Nov (MWi) were among the latest Ardeids this season; this group is generally lingering longer. Also late were a Snowy Egret in Oklahoma, OK 8 & 12 Nov (BM, JB), a Little Blue Heron at Red Slough 8 Nov (DA), 80 Cattle Egrets at Red Slough 8 Nov (DA)—with another late bird in Payne, OK 9 Nov (SL)—and a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Hackberry Flat 11 Nov (L&MT). Tricolored Heron is a rare summer visitor to Kansas; one was at Cheyenne Bottoms 8—23 Sep (GC). White Ibis numbers at Red Slough, still over 100 in early November, dropped to 10 on 30 Nov (DA). A juvenile White Ibis in Linn, KS 12 Aug (KS) was a notable find for the state, where this species is not annual. A White-faced Ibis in Saunders, NE 11 Nov (RSa, JGJ) was late; a group of 46 Plegadis sp. lingered at Hackberry Flat to at least 11 Nov (L&MT). A Roseate Spoonbill was still lingering at Red Slough 18 Oct (DA). An ABA-level mega, Jabiru, was found on private property in McCurtain, OK 4 Aug (PS). This constitutes Oklahoma’s second, and may have been the same bird noted earlier on the Texas Coastal Plain.

A Black Vulture on the Russell/Ellsworth county line, KS 30 Oct (DK, MR) was a very rare that far northwest; the species is slowly expanding in range, from southwest to northeast, and one in Sumner, KS 6 Oct (EY) fell under that expansion.  A Turkey Vulture in Douglas, KS 19 Nov (LZ), was late, and so was an Osprey in Lancaster, NE 29 Nov (SK).  3 Swallow-tailed Kites were found in Kansas: in Geary 24 Aug (JKt), Johnson 4 Sep (DP), and Butler 7 Sep (BB); 2 were recorded in Oklahoma: Stephens 5 Sep (BA, LA) and Comanche 12 Sep (SHo, JA).  An immature Golden Eagle was easterly in Geary, KS 10 Nov (CO).  An immature Northern Goshawk was photographed in an Omaha, Douglas, NE yard 21 Nov (CHe). A kettle of 75 Mississippi Kites near the edge of their range at Dakota, NE 6 Sep (PR) was notable. Nesting Mississippi Kites in Mitchell, KS 8 Aug (JN) were northerly for the state. Forest buteos westward included a Red-shouldered in Morton, KS 11 Sep (MR) and a Broad-winged Hawk in Lincoln, NE 23 Sep (TJW), as well as another Broad-wing—late—at  McConaughy 17 Oct (ERa photo).

A Burrowing Owl in Burt, NE 17 Sep (EB, photo) was easterly. A Long-eared Owl—a cryptic species likely more common than reports indicate—was in Texas, OK 5 Oct (DH). It was the only one reported this season. A mist-netting project in Cherokee, OK captured a surprising 18 Northern Saw-whet Owls 4—20 Nov (ARa, MRe), more than previously documented all-time in Oklahoma. Easterly Lewis’s Woodpeckers have increased recently, but still surprising were individuals in Douglas, KS and Pottawatomie, KS 26 Nov (LM). Other notable Lewis’s included 2 in Keya Paha, NE 29 Sep (MH). A juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Dawes, NE 13 Oct (JGJ, TJW) was westerly. September is a typical month to find Red-naped Sapsuckers in the region; 3 were reported from Kimball, Sioux, and Dawes, NE 18—19 Sep (JGJ, RW), and in Morton, KS 17 Sep (CE). 2 Pileated Woodpeckers along the Platte River in Dodge, NE 30 Oct (PP) and one in Kiowa, KS 7 Aug—23 Sep (JL) were westerly. Easterly Prairie Falcons were in Madison, NE 21 Oct (WF) and Richardson, NE 11 Nov (JRy).

Flycatchers through Longspurs

An early migrant Olive-sided Flycatcher was reported in Cleveland, OK 13 Aug (DGu).  A Western Wood-Pewee in Reno, KS 13 Aug (AM) was unexpectedly east; conversely, westerly Eastern Wood-Pewees were in Cherry, NE 6 Aug (NK) and Lincoln, NE 29 Aug (WB, CB). 9 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were reported from Nebraska and Kansas 12 Aug—28 Sep (fide WRS, fide CO). A Yellow-bellied at Red Slough 4 Oct (DA) was late. 4 Hammond’s Flycatchers, regular but rare, were reported in the Nebraska Panhandle 4—5 Sep (MW, ERa, JR, SM, NM), and one was in Morton, KS 23 Sep (WCT). A Dusky Flycatcher was in southwestern Kimball, NE 5 Sep (MW, JR, ERa). Easterly Say’s Phoebes were in Dixon, NE 25 Sep (JJ) and Adams, NE 16 Sep (PD). Black Phoebe, becoming almost annual in Cimarron, OK, was noted there 20—22 Sep (BC, ZP). The 4 Vermilion Flycatchers in Cimarron, OK 3 Sep (M&MP, JDe) were noteworthy; singles in Comanche, OK 26 Sep (AWV) and Washington, northeastern OK 1 & 16 Nov (M&MP, JE) were even less-expected. A Great Crested Flycatcher in Cimarron, OK 3 Sep (JAG) was westerly. An Eastern Kingbird in Garfield, NE 1 Oct (RK) was very late. The latest date for Scissor-tailed Flycatcher this season was 12 Nov, in Cherokee, OK (SB). 3 Northern Shrikes reached Nebraska early, one each in Garden and Keith 18 Oct (TG), and one in Dixon 22 Oct (BFH).  A Blue-headed Vireo in Rogers, OK 29 Aug (K&CW) was early; one on 4 Nov in Comanche, OK (KM) was late. The only reports of Cassin’s Vireo, an annual migrant in the region’s far western reaches, were of singles in Sioux, NE 4 Sep (ERa, MW) and Cimarron, OK 19 Sep (BC). Another western species is Plumbeous Vireo; 7 were still on the breeding range in Sioux, NE 4 Sep (MW, ERa), and migrants were in Kimball, NE 19 Sep (JGJ) and Cheyenne, KS 11 Sep (SM, NM). Philadelphia Vireos in Geary, KS 25 Aug (DAk) and Ottawa, KS the same date (DAk) were early fall migrants, whereas a Warbling Vireo in Dawes, NE 14 Sep (JLe) was late.

A Common Raven in Greeley 2 Nov (WCT) was outside its typical regional range. An outstanding 30,000 Purple Martins roosted at a traditional site in Wichita, Sedgwick, KS 13 Aug (MP). Purple Martin is establishing its Niobrara River Valley, NE outpost in Cherry; 37 were reported there 18 Aug (JED). 6 Tree Swallows in Lancaster, NE 28-29 Oct (EJ, TG, NR) were late. The 4200 Northern Rough-winged Swallows in Neosho, KS 30 Sep (AB) was a surprising count. A Bank Swallow in Washington, OK 1 Oct was late (MDr). 5 sightings involving 7 Cave Swallows occurred in Kansas: 11 Sep in Morton (MR, JM), 4 Aug in Sumner (3 birds; MT, EY), 12 Aug at Cheyenne Bottoms (JK), 12 Aug at Quivira (MR), and 16 Oct in Coffey (fide CO). Red Slough produced 1-3 Cave Swallows 9—23 Aug (DA), and 14 on 14 Sep (DA). An extralimital Canyon Wren in Cherry, NE 28 Oct—30 Nov (MSS, PD, JJ, JGJ photo) was exceptional; another, somewhat nearer its expected range, was in Morton, KS 22 Sep (WCT). A Sedge Wren in Edwards, KS 30 Sep (PJ, KG, NA, MG) was westerly. Northerly Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in Nebraska included 1-2 in Cherry 6—7 Aug (NK, MA); one at McConaughy 25 Nov (BP, photo) was quite late. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Sarpy, NE 5 Aug (RS) was notably early. A Townsend’s Solitaire in Dickinson, KS 22 Oct (JP) was east of the usual winter range. Only 2 Veeries were reported, singles in Douglas, NE 14 and 19 Sep (JR). Gray-cheeked Thrush is less-than-annual in fall; singles in Lancaster, NE 9 Sep (LE) and Jefferson, KS 11 Sep (MMH, MGo) were noteworthy. Swainson’s Thrush is also rare during fall—one was in Tulsa 11 Sep (JS).

An adult Curve-billed Thrasher of ssp. oberholseri was photographed in Dawes, NE 7 Oct (JLe); this was Nebraska’s 9th record, and both oberholseri and palmeri have occurred in the state. Extralimital Curve-billed Thrashers were reported in sw. Kansas from Finney 13 Aug (T&SS) and Grant 11 Oct (LL). Sage Thrasher is a rare winter visitor to western OK; one was in Greer 21 Oct (JA). The season’s best count of Sprague’s Pipit was 11 in Cherry, NE 23 Sep (CNK); during migration, this species is increasingly difficult to find in the region. Evening Grosbeaks are irregular winter visitor to Kansas. 3 were in Cheyenne on the rather early date of 16 Sep (SM, DD, NM). A Lesser Goldfinch in Reno, KS 13 Aug (AM) was northeasterly. A Lapland Longspur 16 Sep in Antelope, NE (MB) was quite early. 3 Snow Buntings at Quivira 12 Nov were southerly; one still remained 29 Nov (DAk).

Towhees through Dickcissel

Green-tailed Towhees, a rare migrant to the western parts of the region, were in Kimball, NE 17 Sep (2 birds; RW) and Morton, KS 11 Sep (MR). A Spotted Towhee arrived early in Cimarron, OK 3 Sep (JAG), and an Eastern Towhee was westerly in Comanche 3 Nov (KM).  A Vesper Sparrow in Douglas, NE 29 Nov (JR) was late, as were Grasshopper Sparrows in Lancaster, NE 19 Oct (LE) and Cleveland, OK 10 Nov (CF). Several LeConte’s Sparrows lingered well into Nov in Nebraska, the latest in Douglas 26 Nov (SMa, photo). A LeConte’s was westerly in Meade, KS 17 Oct (T&SS). A Nelson’s Sparrow in Sarpy, NE 12 Nov (AG, details) was exceptionally late there. Nebraska’s third-latest Bobolink record came from Rock 1 Oct (DHe). 5 Rusty Blackbirds in Lincoln, NE 27 Nov were westerly 27 Nov (BP, photo). Both Orchard (Dixon, 27 Sep; JJ) and Baltimore (Sarpy, 5 Oct; CNK); a Baltimore in Grant, KS 10 Aug (BN) was westerly.

Golden-winged Warblers in Nebraska were notably numerous this season: a male in Sarpy 6 Sep (RS), a female in Cedar 6 Sep (MB), a male in Knox the same day (MB), and a male in Douglas 10 Sep (JR). A Blue-winged Warbler in Dawes, northwestern NE 28 Aug (JLe, details) was extralimital; a male Blue-winged at Red Slough 31 Aug (DA) was also noteworthy. A “Brewster’s Warbler” hybrid, also at Red Slough, was recorded 27 Sep (DA). A Swainson’s Warbler in McCurtain, OK 14 Sep (FH, CM) represents a fall departure date. A Nashville Warbler in Comanche, OK 5 Nov (KM) was late. A hatch-year female Hooded Warbler in Douglas, NE 12 Sep (JR) was unexpected for fall in Nebraska. Hooded Warblers were at separate locations in McCurtain, OK 15 Sep (FH) and 20 Sep (DA); fall departure for this species is still ill-defined. Westerly American Redstarts in the OK Panhandle were in Cimarron 2 Sep (JAG) and Texas 28 Sep (DH). Oklahoma’s only Magnolia Warblers this fall were singles in Tulsa 10 Sep (JS) and at Red Slough 11 Oct (DA). A well-described Cape May Warbler in Lincoln, OK 30 Oct (JW, NV) was a stellar find for the state. An early migrant Blackburnian Warbler appeared in Johnson, KS 13 Aug (MG). A Chestnut-sided Warbler, just infrequently recorded in the Oklahoma Panhandle, was found in Cimarron 2 Sep (JAG, DR); another, very late, was in Tulsa, OK 29 Oct (TMi, BC). Blackpoll Warblers typically migrate well east of the region, so Nebraska records from Greeley 6 Sep (RH), Lancaster 14 Sep WP (LE), and McConaughy 19 Sep (JGJ, photo) were noteworthy. Black-throated Blue Warbler, a regional rarity, was in Douglas, NE 14 Sep (JR photo) and Jefferson, KS 19 Oct (MMH). A Palm Warbler in Dawes 14 Sep (JLe) was westerly; late Palms were in Sarpy, NE 15 Oct (RS) and Washington, OK 16 and 23 Oct (JE, MDr). Townsend’s Warblers are rare anywhere in Oklahoma, so an easterly individual in Rogers 29 Aug (K&CW) was especially notable. A Black-throated Green Warbler in Red Willow, NE was westerly in Red Willow, NE 26 Aug (WF); the species was last noted in the region 26 Oct in Cleveland, OK (RGu).

A female Hepatic Tanager in Cimarron, OK 3 Sep (JAG) constitutes one of very few Oklahoma records.  A female Summer Tanager in Ellsworth, KS 6 Aug (DK) was westerly, and another female was both westerly and very late in Saline, KS 1 Nov (KK). A Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Red Slough 11 Oct (DA, FH) was also late. Black-headed Grosbeaks in Payne, OK 28 Aug (SL) and Leavenworth, KS 10 Sep (GP) were easterly. On 22 Sep, a female Blue Grosbeak in Lincoln, NE was observed feeding four large juveniles (TJW); this represents a very late successful nesting  (TJW). A Lazuli Bunting 1 Oct (DL) in Loup, NE was both late and easterly. An Indigo Bunting was in Tulsa, OK 30 Oct (JS) was late, as was a female Dickcissel in Oklahoma, OK 27—29 Oct (JW).

Report processed by Alison Világ, 25 October 2020

Photos–Southern Great Plains: Fall 2016
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.