Southern Great Plains: Fall 2018

Fall 2018: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Joseph A. Grzybowski

W. Ross Silcock

Recommended citation:

Grzybowski, J. A., and W. R. Silcock. 2021. Fall 2018: Southern Great Plains. <> North American Birds.

These reports have frequently focused on population phenomena and patterns. This fall, dynamic—if creeping—range extensions of southeastern species continued more northward and westward, and withdrawals or delays of northern species spread southward. Part of the northwestward creep in some bird species is from encroaching woody vegetation westward. Several species, such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, and Carolina Wren, follow the riparian corridors available.

In synchrony with these patterns are the continuing increase and array of species departing the region later and later, or beginning their overwinter site occupancy. Some late-season breeding may enhance these patterns. This season may be only a reflection of the patterns to come and prevail. Some waterfowl and gulls do not make it south to Oklahoma until December rather than early November. The low-show of some winter finches, such as redpolls and snow buntings, may be part of this pattern. And for whatever reason, scoters and several species of eastern warblers were much more in evidence this season. Red Crossbills likely favor their own out-of-pattern-with-other-patterns, this season being less in evidence. Sprinkle these with the seasonal surprise rarities, and you have our report.

Contributors (Sub-regional editors in boldface)

NEBRASKA:  Danny Akers (DAk), Wendy Becker, Elliott Bedows, Eric Bents (EBe), Stephen Brenner, Ed Brogie (EBr), Mark Brogie, Barbara Brown, John Carlini (JCa), Mary Clausen, Jen Corman (JCo), Colin Croft, Charlotte Croshaw (CCr), Olivia DaRugna, Kathy DeLara, Roger Dietrich, Boni Edwards, Larry Einemann, Dave Ely, William Flack, Deb Ford, Andrew Furman, Tom Gannon, Liz Garcia, Katy Gooby (KGb), Justin Haag (JHg), JoAnn Hackos, Robin Harding, Kadynn Hatfield, Dave Heidt, Terese Hill, Rita Jensen, Jan Johnson, Joel G. Jorgensen, William Kaempfer, Lynette Keeshan, Clem N. Klaphake, Landon Koth (LKo), Steve Kruse, Robert Manning (RMa), Sam Manning (SMa), Sharla Meester (SMe), Steve Mlodinow (SMl), Christopher Murray, Jonathan Nikkila, Loren & Babs Padelford (L&BP), Don & Jan Paseka (D&JP), Jim Petersen (JPe),

Contributors (cont.)

Brian Peterson, Susan Quinn, Matt Rabbe (MRa), Lanny Randolph, David Rankin (DRa), Ed Raynor, Ben Ream, Justin Rink, Gary Roberts, Paul Roisen, Rick Schmid, Rick Sammons (RSa), Tim Schmidt, Shari Schwartz (SSc), Amy Sheffield, W. Ross Silcock, Marie Smith, James St. Sauver (JSS), Dave Stage (DSt), Derek Stoner (DSn), Phil Swanson, Jason Thiele (JT), David Tonnessen, Matthew & Cynthia Van Den Broeke (M&CV), T. J. Walker, Bobby Walz (BWa), Ben Wheeler (BWh), Don & Marion Wiedemann (D&MW), Andrea Wiggins, Michael Willison, Linda Yungbluth.  KANSAS:  Henry Armknecht, Aaron Batterbee, Dawn Bayless, Jayden Bowen, Dan Broers (DBo), Peter Burke, Andrew Burnett (ABu), Jeff Calhoun, Kathy Carroll, Walter Cochran, Kelli Egbert, Jared Engelbert, Corey Entriken, Malcolm Gold, Kevin Groeneweg, Peter Grund, Bart Hall, Chris Hobbs, Lowell Johnson, Thomas Jones, Mark Keller, William Kirsch (WKh), Dave Klema, Kaleb Kroeker, Larry Langstaff, Dan LaShelle (DLa), Jonathan Lautenbach, Tony Leukering, Matt Longabaugh (MLo), Micky Louis, Travis Mahan, Mick McHugh (MMH), Christi McMillen (CMc), Kurtis Meier, Don Merz, Andrew Miller, Sue Newland, Mark Nolen, Chuck Otte, Robert Penner, Diane Persons, Jody Pfannenstiel, Galen Pittman, Alexis Powell, Jenn Rader (JRa), Mike Rader, Dave Rintoul, John Schukman, Carolyn Schwab, David Seibel, Scott Seltman, Sara Shane (SSh), Max Thompson, Jarret Thurman (JTm), Nick Varvel, Ben Wilson, Lucas Wilson, Jeff Witters.  OKLAHOMA:  David Arbour, James W. Arterburn, Cody Barnes (CBa), Nicholas Bauer, John-Edd Brown (JEB), Chris Butler, Bill Carrell, Blake Crispin (BCr), Tom Curtis, Steve Davis, Bill Diffin, Melinda Droege (MDr), Mike Dudash, Kathy Mihm Dunning (KMD), Kenneth Fisher, Kelly Godley (KGo), Russell Goodin, Joseph A. Grzybowski, Ford Hendershot, Glen Hensley, Deb Hirt (DHi), Emily Hjalmarson, Tomasz Kuder, Tony Leukering, Sara Loss (SLo), Scott Loss, Jimmy Lovett (JLo), Dustin Lynch, Brian Marra, Larry Mays, Roy McGraw, Steve Metz, Terry Mitchell (TMi), Daniel Newman, Mark Peterson, Zach Poland, Tim & Elizabeth Pratt (T&EP), Abby Ramirez, Paul Ribitzki (PRi), Justin Roach (JRo), Tal Roberts, Dan Robinson (DRo), Kathy Ryals, Ben Sandstrom, Clarissa Sharp (CSh), Jana Singletary (JSi), Brent Spink (BSp), Eric Spink, Laura Stanfill, John Tharp (JTh), Jessica Torres (JTo), Lou & Mary Truex (L&MT), Nadine Varner (NVa), Nancy Vicars (NVi), Christian Walker, Lora Weber (LWe), David Wiggins (DWi), Ken Williams, Bill Wood (BWo), Doug Wood, Jimmy Woodard (JWo), Rachel Wrenn.


Cheyenne Bottoms (Cheyenne Bottoms WMA, Barton, KS); Hackberry Flat (Hackberry Flat WMA, Tillman, OK); Hefner (L. Hefner, Oklahoma, OK); McConaughy (L. McConaughy Res., Keith, NE); Quivira (Quivira NWR, Stafford, KS); Rainwater Basin: a series of playas in south-central and southeastern NE; Red Slough (Red Slough WMA, McCurtain, OK); Salt Plains (Salt Plains NWR, Alfalfa, OK).

Whistling-Ducks through Cranes

Northernmost Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were in Nebraska, one in Hall 13 Aug (fide JGJ) and two in Lancaster 7 Sep (BR, m.ob.); there were three reports in Kansas through 28 Sep (fide CO), and last reported was one at Red Slough 29 Oct (DA, BSp, BWo). Six Greater White-fronted Geese arrived early at Red Slough 27 Sep (DA). Unexpected summer reports of Cackling Goose were of one in Morton, KS 5 Aug (TL), one on 5 and 18 Aug in Texas, OK (KMD, TL), and two in Cimarron, OK 6 Aug (TL, KMD), while one in Canadian, OK 20 Sep (T&EP) was also more likely a summer vagrant. Tundra Swan is a rare fall migrant through the region; the only reports were of one in Lancaster, NE 14 Nov (SK, m.ob.) and two in Cherry, NE 12 Nov (TS, ph.). A continental rarity Garganey was in Wabaunsee, KS 15 Oct (DLa), one of fewer than 10 state records.  Unexpected summer waterfowl reports were a Gadwall at Red Slough 8 Aug (DA), and a Ring-necked Duck in Garden, NE 9 Sep (JN). A tally of 182 Greater Scaup at Hefner 23 Nov (BD) was a high count of a developing collection locality for this species.  Surf Scoters were reported from nine locations in the region totaling 32 birds (fide JAG, CO, WRS); one in Madison, NE 7 Oct (LE) was early. There were 20 White-winged Scoters at 11 locations in the region, most in Nebraska (fide WRS) beginning 13 Oct in Cedar (four; SMa); one or two were at Hefner 17–30 Nov (ZP, BD, m.ob.). Usually rarest of the scoters in the region, Black Scoter showed well in all three states with an amazing 67 reported, including a best count of 23 in Russell, KS 30 Nov (DK); 34 individuals were reported from four Nebraska locations 13 Oct–26 Nov (fide WRS), and up to six were at Hefner 7–30 Nov (BD, m.ob.). Single Long-tailed Ducks were at five Nebraska locations 30 Oct–24 Nov (fide WRS), with three at two locations on 25 Nov in northeastern Kansas–Douglas (KC) and Miami (JW, MG), but none yet in Oklahoma (fide JAG).  A male Barrow’s Goldeneye in Cimarron, OK 24–28 Nov (SM) was a rare find there. A single Common Merganser was early in Lincoln, NE 6 Oct (WB); one in Jefferson, KS 17 Aug (KC) and seven at McConaughy 9 Aug–15 Sep (fide WRS) were likely summer vagrants. A Red-breasted Merganser was early in Tulsa, OK 21 Oct (BC).

One hundred five Greater Prairie-Chickens were a good tally in Boone, NE 28 Nov (WF). Red-necked Grebe is a rare regional migrant; the three reports were of singles in Cedar, NE 20–30 Oct (MB, EBr, RD), at McConaughy 20–23 Oct (JR, MS), and in Riley, KS 7 Nov (LJ). A summer vagrant Eared Grebe was odd in Texas, OK 5 and 18 Aug (TL, KMD). Easterly Western Grebes were one or two in Jefferson, KS 26 Oct (KC) and one in Payne, OK 8 & 13 Nov (SL). An early and uncommon Clark’s Grebe was in Hodgeman, KS 24 Aug (ML, MG). White-winged Doves have not expanded easterly as much as northerly through central and western Oklahoma; still rare easterly, a White-winged Dove was in McCurtain 29 Oct (DA). Tardy Yellow-billed Cuckoos were in Knox, NE 13 Oct (AW, photo) and Sarpy, NE 18 Oct (L&BP). Increasingly rare in the region, single Black-billed Cuckoos were in Douglas, NE 7 Sep (JR, ph.), Cowley, KS 26 Sep (HA), Saunders, NE 30 Sep (RMa), and, quite late in Tulsa, OK 21 Oct (TMi, photo). A Greater Roadrunner, part of a methodical creep northward, was in Ellis, KS 21 Aug (JP). Departure dates of goatsuckers are not well documented; a late Eastern Whip-poor-will was recorded in Dixon, NE 16 Sep (MB). A White-throated Swift in Saline, KS 30 Sep (KK) was an exceptional mid-Kansas record.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were westerly and late this fall; last dates for each state were in Douglas, NE 18 Oct (RMa), Johnson, KS 26 Oct (DB), and Cherokee, OK 26 Oct (KR), while westerly were singles in Scotts Bluff, NE 7–9 Sep (MS) and 21 Sep (KD), and Cheyenne, KS 7 Sep (MK). Nebraska’s sixth and seventh Black-chinned Hummingbirds were at separate locations in Scotts Bluff 25 Aug–21 Sep (CC, ph.) and 18 Sep–2 Oct (MS); one was in Finney, KS 5 Aug (SSh), and one or two were rather late in Harmon, OK 12–19 Oct (JEB). Nebraska’s second Anna’s Hummingbird, a stunning male, was in Saunders 3–8 Oct (TH, m.ob.). A late male hummingbird was in Osage, OK 1–11 Nov (KGo), identified as a Ruby-throated, but possibly an Anna’s.  Of the 13 Broad-tailed Hummingbirds reported in the Nebraska Panhandle 4 Aug–22 Sep (fide WRS), last was in Scotts Bluff 22 Sep (SMl). Rufous Hummingbirds pushed eastward, with singles in Seward, NE 6 Aug–3 Sep (LG, m.ob.), Knox, NE 20–24 Oct (MB, photos), separate locations in Johnson, KS 11 (CH) and 12 Aug (CE), and in Cleveland, OK 5 Aug (JTh, RW).  The much rarer Calliope Hummingbirds also were detected eastward in Russell, KS 4 Sep (MR, DK), and Seward, NE 6 Aug (LG, m.ob.). The five Calliopes at the Smith feeders, Scotts Bluff 8 Aug (MS) was an excellent count. A surprising nine or more Yellow Rails were reported 12 Sep–9 Nov; earliest was in Sarpy, NE 12 Sep (RS, PS) and last at Red Slough 9 Nov (CB). Recently fledged Virginia Rail chicks were in Knox, NE 26 Aug (MB, photo), somewhat late. A tardy Sora was in Sarpy, NE 27 Oct (JR). Away from Red Slough, Common Gallinule is erratic in appearance; tardy were two immatures 26–28 Oct in Sarpy, NE (L&BP, m.ob.), with another immature in Seward, NE 31 Oct–2 Nov (JGJ, photo; m.ob.). Another Common Gallinule continued in Douglas, KS through 1 Aug (KC, MLo), and one at Red Slough 6 Nov (DA) was tardy. The last Purple Gallinule at Red Slough was reported 29 Oct (DA). A flock of 14 Sandhill Cranes was early and easterly in Tulsa, OK 18 Sep (ZP). Good numbers of Whooping Cranes passed through the region 5 Oct–10 Nov; totals were 49 in Nebraska (MRa fide JGJ), 104 in Kansas, all at Quivira (fide CO), and two to 10 at the Salt Plains 23 Oct–10 Nov (GH).

Stilts through Terns

A Black-necked Stilt was easterly and late in Sarpy, NE 8–16 Sep (JR, m.ob.). The only Mountain Plovers reported were the nine in Texas, OK 29 Aug (TL), where it has been a rare fall migrant.  Normally rare, the only Piping Plover reported in the region this season was a non-banded juvenile in Platte, NE 22–28 Aug (EBr, MB; ph., m.ob.).  A Long-billed Curlew in Arthur, NE 14 Sep (WK) was late. Very rare during fall, and typically juveniles, were Hudsonian Godwits, singles at Quivira 26 Oct (SS, PB) and in Washington, NE 2–3 Nov (SMa, BP; ph.).  Red Knots, rare but formerly more regular during fall, were found at Cheyenne Bottoms 2–5 Aug (2 adults; TM), with a single 17 Aug at the Salt Plains (JAG, GH). Baird’s Sandpipers were late in Washington, NE 16 Nov (SMa) and Payne, OK 17 Nov (JLo, DL). Quite incredible as a continental mega-rarity was a Little Stint at Cheyenne Bottoms 30 Aug (RP, photo), second Kansas record but first fully documented. The first documented fall record of White-rumped Sandpiper for NE, a species that migrates easterly through the Atlantic Coast regions during fall, was of a juvenile in Polk 30 Sep (JGJ, photo).  Buff-breasted Sandpipers were westerly in Wallace, KS 14 Sep (JC) and Haskell, KS 21 Sep (KG). A Pectoral Sandpiper was late in Washington, NE 16 Nov (SMa). Short-billed Dowitchers, low-density and difficult to identify during fall, were at Red Slough 15 Aug (DA) and in Dickinson, KS 3 Aug (two birds; KG). Among tardy tringids were single Solitary Sandpipers in Lancaster, NE 4 Oct (SB, OD) and Payne, OK 14–15 Oct (SL, SLo, DHi), and a Willet in Douglas, NE 2 Oct (EB, MC). Red-necked Phalarope was widely reported, with several easterly reports; three were in Saunders, NE 27 Aug (RSa), singles were at different locations in Miami, KS 8 Sep (MG) and 6 Oct (WC, JW), and two were at the Salt Plains 5 Oct (GH, JAG). There was only one report of the much rarer Red Phalarope, at Quivira 3 Oct (MN).

Jaegers this season, always regional “zooties,” were single Parasitics at Cheyenne Bottoms 3–6 Sep (AB) and in Douglas, KS the same day (DBo, m.ob.).  Surprisingly few Sabine’s Gulls were reported, only four in all: 7 Sep in Lancaster, NE (LE), 21 Sep at McConaughy (DAk), 5 Oct at the Salt Plains (GH, JAG), and 12–17 Oct at Quivira (MR). Four vagrant Laughing Gulls were reported: singles in Oklahoma, OK 1–3 Sep (BM), Wagoner, OK 10 Sep (JWA, KW), and tardy singles in Cowley, KS 7 Oct (MT) and Miami, KS 13 Oct (MG, JTm). Mew Gull is a regional rarity, especially southerly, where one was at Hefner 17 Nov (BS). California Gull is still rare easterly and southerly in the region; this season, one was easterly in Cedar, NE 10 Nov (EBr, MB), four to five first-cycle birds were at four Oklahoma locations 30 Sep–23 Nov (fide JAG), and early singles in Kansas were at Cheyenne Bottoms 2 Aug (TM) and in Reno, KS 19 Aug (AM). An adult Herring Gull was early at McConaughy 5 Sep (DT), as was another (unaged) in Jefferson, KS 17 Aug (KC). An immature Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull in Cedar, NE 7–14 Oct (MB) was quite early. Lesser Black-backed Gull has become an uncommon norm with 13 reported 10 Aug through the period (fide WRS, CO, JAG). However, Great Black-backed Gull is a regional “zootie;” an adult was at McConaughy on an early date of 12 Sep (MB, EBr).  Very late small terns were two Least Terns accompanied by a Black Tern in Wagoner, OK 9 Oct (JSi).  A total of six Common Terns were noted in Oklahoma 3 Sep–14 Oct (fide JAG); another was early in Jewell, KS 1 Aug (CS).

Loons through Falcons

Four Pacific Loons were reported, singles in Douglas, NE 17–27 Oct (BR, m.ob.), Lancaster, NE 24 Oct (MW), Tulsa, OK 26 Oct (BC, TC), and Russell, KS 10 Nov (MR). A summering Common Loon was still in Jefferson, KS 2 Aug (HA). Oklahoma contributed its usual but still-rare Yellow-billed Loon: one in Oklahoma 23 Nov (SD).  An immature Magnificent Frigatebird in Payne, OK 10 Sep (CBa) and a Brown Booby in Kingfisher, OK 17 Aug (JTo) were a pair of extreme unexpected, exceptional coastal and pelagic extralimitals, both photographed. Neotropic Cormorants were widespread in Oklahoma and Kansas; a total of 13 were reported, five of these in Kansas (fide CO, JAG), the latest, one in Cleveland, OK 10 Nov (TK). Tardy Least Bitterns were in Knox, NE 11 Oct (JCo), at Red Slough 23 Oct (BSp, ES, MD), and Oklahoma, OK 25 Oct (BM). A Great Egret in Dodge, NE 20 Nov (CCr) was tardy, as was a Little Blue Heron in McCurtain, OK 10 Nov (TR). Red Slough hosted two to three Tricolored Herons 8 Aug–6 Sep (DA), and another was late in Bryan, OK 19 Oct (DW). Rare westerly during fall in Nebraska was a Cattle Egret in Sheridan 4 Oct (TJW), and a Cattle Egret at Hefner 23 Nov (SD) was tardy. Quite late was a Green Heron in Canadian, OK 29 Nov (JWo, NVa), with another tardy in Graham, KS 20 Oct (HA). A White Ibis in Kearny, KS 21 Sep (KM) was a rare northwesterly vagrant. Away from Red Slough, as many as six Roseate Spoonbills were vagrant in Johnston, OK 15 Sep (JRo), with surprising singles in Creek, OK 1–10 Aug (JWo, NVa) and Kay, OK 28 Aug (BCr). Black Vulture is slowly expanding its summer range into Kansas, mainly in the southeast; 30 were at a deer carcass in Cherokee as late as 16 Oct (JRa), and singles were westerly in Saline 18 Aug (KK, photo) and northerly in Douglas 8 Sep (AP).

At least two Osprey nests in Scotts Bluff, NE had young fledged by mid-Aug (KD), and a single Osprey was late in Douglas, KS 25 Nov (KC, DP). Swallow-tailed Kite, while very rare in the region, is being reported more often recently; northerly was one in Shawnee, KS 28 Aug (SN, m.ob.), with others in Creek, OK 9 Aug (KF) and McCurtain, OK 24 Aug (MDr). Golden Eagles, rare easterly, were early in Boyd, NE 17 Sep (LR, RH) and Atchison, KS 13 Oct (DM). Only two Northern Goshawks were reported: singles in Pottawatomie, KS 8 Nov (DR) and Scotts Bluff, NE 20 Oct (JR). Some 581 migrating Mississippi Kites were a good count in Kansas in Cowley 6 Sep (MT); an immature was tardy in Cowley 3 Oct (DS). Continuing a westward trend in recent years was a Red-shouldered Hawk in Ford, KS 3 Sep (CMc) with another in Republic, KS 10 Sep (HA). A Broad-winged Hawk in Ellis, KS 7 Aug (NV) was westerly, but amazing was a careful estimate of 12,000 over a Dodge, NE farm in three hours on 28 Sep (D&JP), with a late single in Saunders, NE 25 Oct (PR). Along with the huge movement of Broad-winged Hawks noted above, 2000 Swainson’s Hawks were estimated in fields in Dodge, NE the same day (D&JP). Easterly Ferruginous Hawks in Oklahoma were in Osage 2 Nov (LS), Wagoner 4 Nov (SM), and Washington 24 Nov (MDr). A Northern Saw-whet Owl banding project in Cherokee, OK netted birds from 10–21 Nov (AR), indicating their routine presence in eastern Oklahoma as migrants; one Saw-whet was calling in Miami, KS 20 Oct (AB). Lewis’s Woodpecker has become more regular on the plains, with a bird this season in Greer, OK 11 Nov (BM) and one in Dawes, NE 7 Sep (CM). Red-naped Sapsuckers trickling through extreme western OK this season included one in Cimarron 21 Sep (CW). More easterly was a Red-naped in Brown, NE 5–16 Sep (WF, m.ob.).  Merlins appeared early in the northern region; a female or immature richardsonii was in Knox, NE 8 Aug (MB, photo), and singles were at Quivira 15 Aug (SS) and in Riley, KS 25 Aug (DR). A Peregrine Falcon in Kearney, NE 7 Nov (DSn) was late. Early easterly Prairie Falcons were in Saline, KS 2 Aug (KK) and Dixon, NE 20 Aug (JJ).

Flycatchers through Finches

An Olive-sided Flycatcher at Red Slough 3 Oct (DA) was tardy, as were two Eastern Wood-Pewees in Douglas, KS 18 Oct (PG). A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in Reno, KS 15 Sep (AM) was westerly. Good tallies of Alder Flycatcher were the nine and seven on 15 and 23 Aug, respectively, at Red Slough (DA). Tardy empids were single Willows in Dawes, NE 29 Sep (CM) and Lancaster, NE 30 Sep (MW), and a Least in Tulsa, OK 14 Oct (JSi). Among western empids fringing the region is Hammond’s Flycatcher; eight were found in the Nebraska Panhandle 31 Aug–22 Sep (fide WRS), with one in Cimarron, OK 1 Sep (JAG) and another easterly and late in Lincoln, NE 27 Sep (BE, photo). Gray Flycatcher, a more regional “zootie,” made a good showing this season with a surprising five reported: singles in Texas, OK 28 Aug (TL, JWo, LM), two locations in Cimarron, OK 1–2 Sep (JAG, SM; photos), Kimball, NE 2 Sep (MW, ER, JR; photo) and Morton, KS 22 Sep (AM).

Six Dusky Flycatchers were noted, all in Kimball, NE 2–6 Sep (ER, JR, MW, DAk).  Among the rarest empids as migrants in the region, a Cordilleran Flycatcher was in Kimball, NE 2 Sep (MW, ER, JR). A Black Phoebe was in Cimarron, OK 18 Sep (BC), its irregular outpost in the region. An Eastern Phoebe in Douglas, NE 9 Nov (MC) was late, and a Say’s Phoebe was easterly in Boone, NE 14 Sep (LE). A Vermilion Flycatcher in Ottawa, OK 20 Aug (MDr) was far easterly from its irregular western Panhandle locales. A tardy Ash-throated Flycatcher was in Cimarron, OK 12 Sep (L&MT) and a Great Crested Flycatcher was westerly in Garden, NE 28 Aug (JH). Quite late were a single Scissor-tailed Flycatcher crossing the Dawson/Buffalo line, NE 12 Oct (AF) and singles at two locations in McCurtain, OK 19 Nov (DA, FH).

A Northern Shrike was a rare find as early and southerly as Washita, OK 30 Oct (BS). Tardy vireos were a Cassin’s in Kimball, NE 22 Sep (SMl, DE) and a Blue-headed in Oklahoma, OK 16 Nov (CSh), while westerly were 1–2 Blue-headeds in Buffalo, NE 8-9 Sep (JN, DAk), up to three Philadelphias there 8–15 Sep (DAk, JN; ph.), and a Philadelphia in Republic, KS 10 Sep (HA). The western subspecies of Warbling Vireo, brewsterii, occurs in summer in western Nebraska; two were in Kimball 2 Sep (MW, JR, ER). A very late Warbling Vireo was in Tulsa, OK 21 Oct (TMi).  Erratic at the western edge of the region, a single Steller’s Jay set up shop at a Scotts Bluff, NE feeder 18 Oct through the period (CC, m.ob.). Two Tree Swallows were late in Doniphan, KS 21 Nov (TJ) as were five Violet-green Swallows in Banner, NE 9 Sep (LK). A Violet-green photographed in Cimarron, OK 1 Sep (SM) was an exception there. A Purple Martin in Leavenworth, KS 29 Sep (JS) and three in Wagoner, OK 2 Oct (JSi) were tardy. Other tardy swallows were nine Barns in Tulsa, OK 11 Nov (TMi) and 22 Cliffs in Burt, NE 6 Oct (EBe). Data on timing of Cave Swallow occurrence in Oklahoma continues to accumulate; a juvenile 8 Aug, a single 23 Aug, and five on 27 Sep were at Red Slough (DA). A Red-breasted Nuthatch was early in Ford, KS 11 Aug (JC). The more contained movement of Pygmy Nuthatches away from breeding areas was exemplified by three in Sheridan, NE 26 Aug (D&MW) and three in Kimball, NE 2 Sep (MW, JR, ER). A Rock Wren wandered easterly to Dawson, NE 15 Oct (AF). Documented westerly Winter Wrens in Nebraska were singles in Scotts Bluff 21 Oct (EBr, MB; recording) and Dawes 23 Oct (JHg, photo). Sedge Wrens were also westerly, one in Keith, NE 9 Aug (BP, GR) and another in Cherry, NE 6 Aug (DF). Outlier Carolina Wrens in Nebraska were one northerly in Rock, NE 15 Sep (SQ, DH, WK) and a surprising six singles westerly at six different locations in Buffalo, NE 12 Aug–16 Sep (fide WRS). Tardy Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were in Sarpy, NE 3 Oct (LY) and Saline, KS 16 Oct (KK).

A Mountain Bluebird was well easterly in Morris, KS 3 Nov (JB). Surprisingly early was a Townsend’s Solitaire in Texas, OK 1 Aug (TL). Veery is a rarely detected fall migrant in the region; one was in Dawes, NE 3 Sep (CM). A late Wood Thrush was in Lyon, KS 6 Nov (BW). A Varied Thrush, less than annual in Nebraska, was in a Lancaster yard 13–23 Nov (M&CV, m.ob.). A Curve-billed Thrasher in Grant, KS 2 Oct (LL) and a Sage Thrasher in Cheyenne, KS 2 Sep (KE) edged northeastward. The only report of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, a rare Nebraska Panhandle winter visitor, was of three at Scotts Bluff NM, Scotts Bluff 21 Nov (EBr, MB). Cassin’s Finch is less-than-annual in the Nebraska Panhandle; this fall one was singing in Scotts Bluff 22 Sep (SMl) and one was at another Scotts Bluff location 21 Nov (MB, EBr). In an apparent down-year for Common Redpoll, the only reports were of one in Lancaster, NE 1 Nov (LE) and two in Johnson, KS 8 Nov (BH). Also less in evidence this season, a Red Crossbill in Buffalo, NE 16 Sep (BB) and two in Douglas, NE 9 Sep (MB, EBr) were the only ones noted away from Nebraska breeding areas. The odd Lesser Goldfinch noted easterly was in Pawnee, OK 2 Aug (PRi). In the Nebraska Panhandle, Lesser Goldfinches were observed later this season, with two very late in Scotts Bluff 21 Oct (fide WRS), and another also late in Banner 8 Oct (WF).

Longspurs through Painted Bunting

A Lapland Longspur in Lancaster, NE 30 Sep (MW) was exceptionally early. Smith’s Longspurs west of the expected range were two in Comanche, KS 11 Nov (JL). Rare as far south as Kansas, a Snow Bunting was in Mitchell 20 Nov (JE); only moderate numbers were in Nebraska (fide WRS). Two Grasshopper Sparrows in Kiowa, KS 11 Nov (JL) were late. Marginally entering the southwestern region, a Black-throated Sparrow was a good find in Morton, KS 23 Sep (AM). Tardy Spizellae were single Chipping Sparrows in Lancaster, NE 15 Nov (M&CV) and Dodge, NE 24 Nov (RJ fide JGJ), and a Clay-colored Sparrow in Douglas, NE exceptionally so 22 Nov (JR). A Fox Sparrow in Dawes, NE 13 Oct (JGJ, photo) was westerly.  Single American Tree Sparrows in Oklahoma, OK 22 Nov (JWo) and Washita, OK 28 Nov (BS) were near what is now the southern edge of their winter range. A late female/immature Lark Bunting was in Custer, NE 26 Oct (DAk).  Separate Le Conte’s Sparrows in Rock, NE 13 Sep (WF) and 16 Sep (BWh fide JGJ; photo) were early. Three singing Henslow’s Sparrows in Washington, OK 14 Aug (MP) were typical of this often late-breeding species. Only two Green-tailed Towhees were reported, singles in Banner, NE 1 Sep (MB, EBr, SMe, DSt) and Cimarron, OK 17 Sep (BC). A Spotted Towhee was early in Washington, KS 8 Sep (JC). Late for the northerly location were the three Yellow-headed Blackbirds in Holt, NE 14 Nov (JT); another was easterly at Red Slough 13 Sep (DA). An extremely late Orchard Oriole was in Seminole, OK 20–22 Nov (DN); most of this species have left by August. There were three late lingering Baltimore Orioles, singles in Lancaster, NE 12 Oct (JSS), Tulsa, OK 21 Oct (TMi), and Douglas, NE 14 Nov (fide AS). Westerly Rusty Blackbirds were in Valley, NE 28 Oct (WF) and Garfield, NE 29 Oct (WF). Single Ovenbirds were westerly in Oklahoma, OK 22 Sep (NVi) and 13–15 Oct, the latter was also rather late (RG, BD). Rarely reported in fall, a Worm-eating Warbler was in Linn, KS 17 Aug (MMH, photo). A Louisiana Waterthrush lingering at a breeding location in Cass, NE 18 Sep was identified by comparing a recording of its call notes with those of Northern Waterthrush (TG); several with a juvenile were noted there 21–31 Aug, the juvenile 21 Aug (SSc, JCa; photo). An early Northern Waterthrush was in Tulsa, OK 11 Aug (BC, TMi).

There were five Golden-winged Warblers noted in the northern region, a bit surprising for fall; three from Nebraska in Lancaster 9-12 Sep (fide WRS), and singles from different Johnson, KS locations 29 Aug and 16 Sep (WKh). Also quite unexpected during fall were Blue-winged Warblers in Sarpy, NE 9 Sep (CNK) and Lancaster, NE 10 Sep (LE), with four Kansas reports in four eastern counties 30 Aug–13 Sep (fide CO). A surprisingly early Orange-crowned Warbler was found in Texas, OK 5 Aug (TL, KMD; ph.), and one was quite late in Douglas, NE 22 Nov (DRa). Tardy Nashville Warblers were in Tulsa, OK 27 Oct (BC, TMi) and Dixon, NE 1 Nov (JJ), with one very late in Lancaster, NE 20 Nov (LKo). A skulker and a regional “zootie” was a Connecticut Warbler 25 Sep in Leavenworth, KS (GP). Somewhat easterly was a MacGillivray’s Warbler in Finney, KS 28 Aug (SSh). A Kentucky Warbler in Oklahoma, OK 23 Sep (BD) was late. The regionally rare Hooded Warbler in Creek, OK 2 Sep (LWe) is considered extralimital there. A female/immature American Redstart in Lincoln, NE 29 Oct (BE, ph.) was exceptionally late; one in Texas, OK 21 Sep (NB) was westerly.  A regional rarity, a Cape May Warbler was in Leavenworth, KS 18 Oct (GP). Two Northern Parulas in Tulsa, OK 14 Oct (TMi) were tardy. Good numbers of Magnolia Warblers occurred in Nebraska with about 70 reported (fide WRS); migration limits were one in Miami, KS 22 Aug (MMH) and another in Lancaster, NE 22 Oct (LKo).  Adding to the unexpected westerly fall eastern warblers this season was a Bay-breasted Warbler far west in Scotts Bluff 6 Sep (DAk). Blackburnian Warblers also showed well this season in Nebraska, with about 30 reports, including surprising westerly reports in Kimball 26 Aug (L&BP), two or three in Buffalo 15 Sep (JN, BB), and one at a different Buffalo location 8 Sep (DAk). A very late Blackburnian was in Sarpy, NE 14 Oct (L&BP).

Tardy Yellow Warblers in Oklahoma were singles in Cleveland 7 Oct (EH) and Tulsa 8 Oct (ZP). A Chestnut-sided Warbler was westerly in Cleveland, OK 23 Sep (JTh, RW). Palm Warblers are rare fall migrants west to the central strip; singles were in Oklahoma 7 Oct (ZP, RG, RM), and Payne 14 (SL) & 17 Oct (DHi). Early was a Palm Warbler in Sarpy, NE 1 Sep (KH, BWa), and one was westerly in Dawes, NE 6 Oct (CM), where they are less than annual. The single report of Pine Warbler in Nebraska was of one in Otoe 23 Sep (WRS, SQ). An extraordinary report was of a very late Yellow-throated Warbler in Lincoln, NE 1 Nov (JPe fide MB; ph.), about 6 weeks later than the previous late date and westernmost on record for fall. Seldom reported in fall, a Prairie Warbler was in Miami, KS 8 Sep (MG). A Townsend’s Warbler in Dundy, NE 1 Sep (ER, JR, MW) was somewhat easterly. Late Black-throated Green Warblers were singles in Douglas, NE (KGb) and Franklin, KS 4 Nov (MG). Generally rare during fall, about 45 Canada Warblers were reported in Nebraska 18 Aug–20 Sep (fide WRS), with one earlier in Douglas, KS 15 Aug (KC), and others in Jefferson, KS 20 Aug (MMH), Neosho, KS 21 Aug (ABu), and late in Oklahoma, OK 4–8 Oct (BD, ZP, RG, LM). Very late Wilson’s Warblers were in Oklahoma, OK 21 Oct (BD) and Cleveland, OK 1 Nov (EH). Also very late were a Summer Tanager in Tulsa, OK 21 Oct (TMi) and Western Tanagers in Dawes, NE 8 Oct (CM) and Logan, KS 13 Oct (HA, JC). Quite late as a breeding record in Nebraska was an adult Northern Cardinal feeding a fledgling in Dixon 31 Oct (JJ). Tardy Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were singles in Lancaster, NE 11 Oct (LE) and Miami, KS 22 Nov (KE). A Black-headed Grosbeak was far easterly in Atchison, KS 8 Oct (LW). Very late Blue Grosbeaks were a female/immature in Thurston, NE 16 Oct (PR) and a single in Tulsa, OK 15 Oct (ZP). And, finally, a Painted Bunting was far westerly in Cimarron, OK 16 Sep (DRo, DWi).

Report processed by Randi Minetor 8 Mar 2021.

Photos–Southern Great Plains: Fall 2018

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