Southern Great Plains: Spring 2019

Spring 2019: 1 Mar–31 May

Joseph A. Grzybowski
[email protected]

W. Ross Silcock
[email protected]

Recommended citation:

Grzybowski, J.A., and W.R. Silcock. 2021. Spring 2019: Southern Great Plains. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-aD2>North American Birds.

Themes of this spring season were vague. Perhaps the most prominent were early arrivals, some quite exceptional. Also, were some high numbers, particularly of geese, but others that may reflect wetter conditions or weather systems “staging” some species. There was the fringe of a few southeastern wetland species (Black-bellied Whistling–Ducks and Neotropic Cormorants) encroaching more prominently into Kansas and Oklahoma. Among the lackluster were the low numbers of some finch and montane species such as redpolls (in Nebraska), crossbills, jays and nuthatches.

Abbreviations:

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); Rainwater Basin: a series of playas in south–central and southeastern NE; Red Slough (Red Slough W.M.A., McCurtain, OK).

Contributors: (Sub-regional editors in boldface)

NEBRASKA: Chris Alred, Janice Arey (JAr), Noah Arthur, Dennis Bauers, Wendy Becker, Dylan Beyer (DBe), Timothy Boundy, Scott Bradley (SBd), Stephen Brenner (SBn), Ed Brogie, Lee Brogie, Mark Brogie, Barbara Brown, Iza Bruen-Morningstar (IBM), Scott Buss, Mary Clausen, Kelly and Jen Corman (K&JC), Colin Croft, Olivia DaRugna, Kathy DeLara, Taylor Dixon, Paul Dougherty (PDo), James E. Ducey, Seth Dudley (SDu), Paul Dunbar, Boni Edwards, Mike Ellis, William Flack, Andrew Furman, Kimberly Hill Grundman, Carolyn Hall, Kadynn Hatfield, Tami Hines, Bill F. Huser, Allison Johnson (AJo), Jan Johnson, Jenny Jo Johnson, Mike Johnson, Joel G. Jorgensen, Karen Kader, Clem N. Klaphake, Paige Klug, Landon Koth, Steve Kruse, Thomas E. Labedz, Dan Leger, Sandra Lemmon (SLe), Gary Lingle, Jim Locklear, Garrett MacDonald, Sam Manning (SMa), Sharla Meester (SMe), James Meigs

Contributors (cont.)

Holly Miller, Nick Minor, Steve Mlodinow (SMl), Wayne Mollhoff, Steve Morris, Jonathan Nikkila (JNi), Joseph O’Keefe (JOK), Loren & Babs Padelford (L&BP), Donald Pendleton (DPe), Brian Peterson, Linda Plock, Anisha Pokharel, Dave Powell (DPo), Susan Quinn, Matt Rahko (MRa), Neal Ratzlaff, Leonard Richardson, Justin Rink, Gary Roberts, W. Douglas Robinson (WDR), Paul Roisen, Dave Sandahl (DSa), Ira Sanders, Matt Shurtliff, Kent Skaggs (KSk), Patricia Slatin, W. Ross Silcock, Barry Southard (BSo), Ruthie Stearns (RSt), Scott Stolz (SSt), Barbara Straus (BSt), Jim Sullivan (JSu), John Sullivan, Linda Sullivan, Jason Thiele (JTh), Paul Timm, David Tonnessen, Matthew and Cynthia Van Den Broeke (M&CV), T. J. Walker, Bobby Walz, Juanita Whittecar (JWh), Don and Marion Wiedemann (D&MW), Malcolm Wilbur (MWi), Michael Willison, Elizabeth Winter, Robert Winter (RWi), Cal Wolf (CWo), Chris Wood.

KANSAS: Pam Annis, Henry Armknecht, Patricia Ayres (PAy), Michael Bader (MBa), Aaron Batterbee (ABa), Emily Brosnan (EBr), Andrew Burnett, Doris Burnett (DBu), Jeff Calhoun, Kathy Carroll, Caryl Chacey-Guba (CCG), Phil Chaon, Stephen DeHart (SDe), Tom Ewert, Malcolm Gold, Kevin Groeneweg, Jan Groski, Jennifer Hammett, Dallas Hewett (DHe), Pete Janzen, Barry Jones, Mark Keller, Ray Kennedy, David Kirsch (DKh) , Will Kirsch, Dave Klema, Nick and Oliver Komar (N&OK), Sherry Leonardo (SLn), Tony Leukering, Micky Louis, Brandon Magette (BMa), Mick McHugh (MMH), Debbie McKee (DMc), Christi McMillen (CMc), Julie Michael (JMi), Andrew Miller, Lynette Muller, James Nickel, Atcha Nolan, Mark Nolen, Dylan Osterhaus, Chuck Otte, Diane Persons, Mark Peterson (MPe), Mark Pheasant (MPh), Mike Rader, Travis Ratliff, John Row (JRw), Kim Sain (KSa), Emily Samuels, John Schukman (JSc), Roger Schultz (RSz), Carolyn Schwab, David Seibel, Sara Shane (SSh), Tom Shane, Karen Stair (KSt), Terry Swope (TSw), Steve Taylor, Max Thompson, David Tonnessen, Curt Van Boening (CVB), Bram Verheijen, Linda Zempel.

OKLAHOMA: Bill and Linda Adams (B&LA), Justin Ailshire, John Anderson (JAn), David Arbour, James W. Arterburn, Cody Barnes, Sandy Berger (SBe), John-Edd Brown (JEB), Marissa Buschow (MBu), Chris Butler (CBu), James Byrd, Bill Carrell, Bill Carter (BCa), Steve Davis, Bill Diffin, Melinda Droege, Chad Ellis, Josh Engelbert, Caleb Frome, Mackenzie Goldthwait (MGo), Alin Gonzalez-Barnes (AGB), Joseph A. Grzybowski, John Hays (JHa), Ford Hendershot, Glen Hensley, Deb Hirt, Austin Jones, Matthew Jung (MJu), Doug Kibbe (DKi), Scott Loss, Sreemala Das Majumder (SDM), Brian Marra, Larry Mays (LMa), Michael McCloy (MMc), Kurt and Sharon Meisenzahl (K&SM), Steve Metz (SMz), Terry Mitchell, Chase Moxley, Brett Niland, Jack Olson, Daron Patterson (DPa), Mark Peterson, Zach Poland, Justin Roach (JRo), Dan Robinson, Jeremy Ross (JRs), Caitlin Rottler, Ben Sandstrom, Rick Shipkowski (RSh), Josh Smith (JSm), John Tharp, Mike and Tina Toth (M&TT), Lou and Mary Truex (L&MT), Edge Wade (EWa), Jon Wise (JWi), Doug Wood, Jimmy Woodard, Rachel Wrenn, Bryan Zvolanek.

Waterfowl through Hummingbirds

The most northerly Black-bellied Whistling–Ducks away from Red Slough were eight in Platte, NE 12 May (PK) and 9–11 in Neosho, KS 3–5 May (AB); eight widespread reports from Oklahoma included one of up to 12 in Alfalfa 25 Apr–15 May (MP, GH). Fourteen Black-bellieds were early at Red Slough 25 Mar (DA). Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, much rarer, was represented by one at Hackberry Flat 9 Apr (L&MT). Hardly routine were the estimated 1,700,000 Snow Geese at Prairie Dog W.P.A, Kearney, NE 18 Mar; the flock on the lake was estimated to cover 40 acres at one bird per square foot (JL, JNi). The 10,000 Greater White-fronted Geese at La Platte Bottoms, Sarpy, NE 15 Mar (MJ) was also an outstanding gathering. Tardy were two Greater White-fronteds at Hackberry Flat 20 Apr (L&MT), and 1–2 in Barton, KS 3–5 May (m. ob.). Also tardy were a Ross’s Goose at Cheyenne Bottoms 18 May (KG et al.), two Cackling Geese in Texas, OK 25 Apr (JAG), and another in Scott, KS 13 May (ST). The last Trumpeter Swans in Oklahoma and Kansas were eight in Osage, OK 16 Mar (CB, AGB) and two at Quivira 9 Apr (BJ). Now less expected than Trumpeters, five Tundra Swans in three Nebraska reports windowed 22–28 Mar (WDR, TD, JGJ), the peak expected migration time; last in Kansas were six 25 Mar at Quivira (m. ob.). Easterly Cinnamon Teal included eight in eastern Nebraska 31 Mar–15 Apr (DB, SK, m. ob.), two in eastern Kansas 18–28 Apr (MG, ML, KC, m. ob.), and one east to Washington, OK 26 Mar (MD). A male Eurasian Wigeon, a regional “zootie,” was in Kearny, KS 8 Mar (DT). A single American Black Duck, increasingly rare in the region, was reported in Neosho, KS 14–16 Mar (TR). Unexpected and of erratic occurrence in the region was a Mottled Duck in Grant, KS 4 18 Apr (PC, photo).

Among lingering waterfowl were three Canvasbacks at Hackberry Flat 25 Apr (L&MT), one in Stanton, KS 16 May (TL), and a surprising 11 at two rainwater basin locations 30 May (JGJ). Scoters are spring rarities in the region; two Surf Scoters were in Knox, NE 22–26 Apr (MB, EB, SMe) and three in Douglas, KS 30 Mar–7 Apr (DK). A Black Scoter was in Lincoln, KS 30 Mar (DK), but more surprising were the seven in Custer, OK 6 Mar (BS, EWa), as well as one–two at Hefner through 3 Apr (fide JAG). Southernmost Long-tailed Duck was at Hefner 11–20 Mar (CM, m. ob.); five were at three eastern Nebraska locations; the single in Lancaster 3–12 May (SBn, OD, m. ob.) was quite late. A tardy male Common Goldeneye was at McConaughy 24–30 May (MW, AP); 880 in Knox, NE 31 Mar may have been inspired by zebra mussels there (EB, LB). The only report of Barrow’s Goldeneye was of a male in Lincoln, NE 17 Mar (BE, ph). A “multi-year vagrant” Common Merganser sojourned through the period at Hefner (fide JAG).

A very late Horned Grebe was at Hefner 12 May (BM), and a rare Red-necked Grebe was in Cowley, KS 20 Mar (MT). Early was an Eared Grebe in Tulsa, OK 17 Mar (BC). Clark’s Grebes are quite rare in Oklahoma and Kansas; singles were at different sites in Cimarron, OK 1 Apr (DKi, MGo) and 5 May (SMz, CF); and in Barton, KS 3–5 May (MR, KC, m. ob.). Only one Black-billed Cuckoo was reported in Nebraska, in Sarpy 23 May (KK, ph); others were reported in northeastern Kansas only (fide eBird). A Common Poorwill was early in Russell, KS 2 Apr (DK). Black-chinned Hummingbirds continue to move northward in the western region with singles in Scotts Bluff, NE 13 May (CC) and Ford, KS 13 Apr (CMc). Although now expected in southwestern Oklahoma, single Black-chinneds were easterly in Cleveland 8 Apr–31 May (JT, RW) and Logan 12–20 Apr (ZP); earliest reported was one in Comanche 29 Mar (K&SM). Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are rare during spring in Nebraska, but reports are increasing; both a male and female were at a feeder in Scotts Bluff 17–26 May (CC, ph), and a female was in southeastern Dawes 24–27 May (JWh, ph).

Rails through Terns

A Virginia Rail in Kimball, NE 23 Mar (SMl) was early or may have wintered. Soras appeared early in Nebraska with singles in Hall 22 Mar (WDR) and Seward 29 Mar (TJW). Regional reports of Common Gallinule away from Red Slough are scarce; two–four were at Hackberry Flat 20 Apr–17 May (L&MT), and singles were reported northerly in Leavenworth, KS 26 Apr (JSc) and Douglas, KS 14 May (SLn, PAy, KSt). Only one Yellow Rail was reported, that at Red Slough 9 Mar (CBu, AJ). There were six reports of Sandhill Cranes at the extreme east edge of the region—a group of 10 at Red Slough 18 Mar (DA) and five reports in eastern-edge Kansas counties 11 Mar–14 May (fide CO). A Sandhill Crane was late in Dawson, NE 24 May (LR). A good tally of Whooping Cranes was the 25 at Quivira 25 Mar, with 15 still there 29 Mar (HA). Black-necked Stilts were easterly; eight were at seven eastern Nebraska locations 13 Apr–18 May (fide WRS) with singles in Neosho, KS 29 Apr (AB), and Tulsa, OK 24–26 May (TM, BN). A Black-necked Stilt at Cheyenne Bottoms 23 Mar (MBa) was quite early. Single American Avocets were easterly in Marshall, KS 10 May (TE, KG, PJ) and early as well in Franklin, KS 29 Mar (MG). A westerly American Golden-Plover was in Stevens, KS 7 Apr (BMa). Recent years have seen Snowy Plover establish as a low-density breeder in Nebraska; eight were at five eastern locations 2–20 May (JGJ, m. ob.). A Piping Plover was early in Lancaster, NE 13–14 Apr (BP, RSt, SMa); singles in Oklahoma were in Alfalfa 15 Apr (GH), Woodward 25 Apr (JAG), and Tulsa 10 May (BC). Up to 10 Piping Plovers were noted at a breeding site in Dodge, NE 9 May through the period (JGJ, SBn, m. ob.).

Whimbrel, a rare spring migrant in the region, windowed the times 25 Apr–24 May (fide WRS, CO, JAG); best count was eight in Franklin, KS 22 May (MG). A Long-billed Curlew at Red Slough about a month early 18 Feb was still present 1 Mar (FH); easterly were two in Cleveland, OK 6 Apr (JAG) and three in Neosho, KS 17 Apr (AB). Ruddy Turnstones made a better-than-normal appearance this season with an outstanding 85 in Platte, NE 15 May (SBd, CA); one in Lancaster, NE 12 Apr (MW, NA, JR) was record early by 17 days, while another was westerly in Scotts Bluff 22 May (KD). Rare in general, but exceptional during spring was a Red Knot at Quivira 4 May (MR). A Dunlin in basic-plumage was early at Quivira 25 Mar (MR). Buff-breasted Sandpipers passed through Oklahoma 23 Apr–21 May as expected but numbers were low; best count only 11 (fide JAG). Short-billed Dowitcher also passed through the region timely 8–23 May (fide WRS, CO, JAG), best count the 26 in Payne, OK 8 May (SL), and westerly in Scotts Bluff, NE 23 May (KD). An early brood of five American Woodcocks was found in Geary, KS 13 Apr (fide CO). A Willet in Tulsa, OK 27 May (TM) was late.

Three Bonaparte’s Gulls in Payne, OK 14 May (SL) were very late. Still less-than-annual during spring was a second-cycle Mew Gull in Lancaster, NE 12 Apr (NA, MW, JR). Regional records of California Gull can include both subspecies, though seldom distinguished. This season, single Californias were reported in Johnson, KS 3 Mar (ABa); Miami, KS 11 Mar (MMH); at Hefner 30 Mar (BD); in Lancaster, NE 5 Apr (NA, DPe); Payne, OK 22–23 Apr (SL); and Le Flore, OK 5–6 May (JAG, CF). Pale Iceland Gulls were reported 2–3 Mar in Reno, KS (MN, AM); Wagoner, OK 6 Mar (JWA); and 13 Apr in Keith, NE (BE). Lesser Black-backed Gulls are increasing in the region; most depart by early April, but a marker for a late date was one at McConaughy 4 May (SMl). Southernmost Glaucous Gulls were one in Wagoner 6 Mar (SMz); two in Blaine, OK 7 Mar (BD); and one very late first-cycle bird in Tulsa, OK 7–8 Apr (BD, SMz). Four Glaucous were reported in Kansas through 15 Mar (fide CO). A surprising two Great Black-backed Gulls were in Kansas: an adult in Reno 2–3 Mar (MN), and probably one individual at locations around Wilson Lake, Russell and Lincoln 10 Mar–3 Apr (DK, MR).

Loons through Falcons

The only Red-throated Loons found were singles in Carter, OK 3 Mar (DW, JA) and Butler, KS 29 Mar (DHe). A Yellow-billed Loon noted during the winter period at Hefner was last seen 16 Mar (BD). Neotropic Cormorants are increasingly reported northward; this season, seven were found in Kansas 19 Mar–20 Apr (fide CO) and about eight in Oklahoma away from Red Slough (fide JAG). The first Anhinga to arrive at Red Slough was a bit early 25 Mar (DA). Least Bitterns reported away from Red Slough were all singles: in Lancaster, NE 7 May (LK); at Cheyenne Bottoms (a westerly outlier location) beginning 1 May (m. ob.); two locations in Douglas, KS beginning 5 May (fide CO); and one in Sequoyah, OK 9 May (SBe). A Tricolored Heron, a rare regular at Red Slough, was there 17 and 20 May (RSh, DA). Among the “zooties” this season was a white-morph Reddish Egret in Creek, OK 24–25 Mar (BM, LMa). Westerly Cattle Egrets were singles in Sheridan, NE 28 Apr (GM, TH, SSt) and Stanton, KS 19 May (HA, JC); and four in Gove, KS 29 Apr (N&OK). Also rare westerly was a Green Heron in Sheridan, NE 18–19 May (D&MW). A surprising 12 overwintering Black-crowned Night-Herons were at Hefner 5 Mar (MJu). The now regular but rare Glossy Ibis included one–two at Hackberry Flat 12–28 Apr (SD, L&MT); and singles at Cheyenne Bottoms 14 Apr (KC); Quivira 21 Apr (MG, MP); Alfalfa, OK 22 Apr (M&TT); Neosho, KS 29 Apr (AB); Hamilton, NE 2 May (JGJ); Sheridan, NE 5 May (KD); and York, NE 12 May (JGJ). Record early White-faced Ibises for Nebraska were two in Buffalo 29 Mar (JM); also early were eight at Quivira 26 Mar (JRw).

Rare northerly was a Black Vulture at a landfill in Johnson, KS 11 Apr (ABa). An Osprey at McConaughy 7 Mar (DPo) was early, and another was carrying nest material in Wagoner, OK 22 Apr (JWA). Late for the location were two Golden Eagles in Alfalfa, OK 24 Mar (BZ), while a juvenile in Dixon, NE 9 Mar (BFH, EB); and singles in Chase, KS 10 Mar (DMc, MPh, ML, JH) and Lyon, KS (DMc, MPh) were easterly. A state and regional first was a remarkable report of a Common Black Hawk photographed in Comanche, OK 5 May (SDM). Northerly was a Red-shouldered Hawk in Brown, NE 28 May (PDo, NM, fide JED); another was westerly in Greer, OK 8 Apr (JEB). A Burrowing Owl, now easterly, was in Canadian, OK 10 Mar (CR). The rarely detected Long-eared Owl in Cimarron, OK 15 Apr (JW) likely windowed its normal migratory time there.

No nesting by Northern Saw-whet Owl was reported during 2019 in Nebraska; Wayne Mollhoff considers the population to be at a four-year low. A juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker in Keya Paha, NE 15 Mar (CH) apparently wintered quite far north; seven others were in Brown, NE 27 Mar (MRa), about a month before expected spring arrival. Single Red-bellied Woodpeckers were noted at the westerly regional boundary in Scotts Bluff, NE 13 and 28 Apr (SMl, CW). A Williamson’s Sapsucker, exceptional in the region let alone eastern Oklahoma, was in Washington 24 Mar (JHa). A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was westerly in Lincoln, NE 11 Mar (WB). An extraordinary record was of a male Red-naped Sapsucker as far east as Sarpy, NE 10–11 Apr (MWi fide JGJ, ph). Crested Caracara occurs rarely but increasingly in southern Oklahoma, this season to Okmulgee 10 Apr (MBu) and Greer 4 May (JEB). Tardy Merlins were a columbarius in Noble, OK 10 May (MP) and a single in Cowley, KS 2 May (DS).

Flycatchers through finches

Record early in Nebraska by a week was an Olive-sided Flycatcher in Sarpy 23 Apr (CNK). An early Eastern Wood-Pewee was at Red Slough 17 Apr (DA), and one was westerly in Dundy, NE 19 May (BSo). Westerly Alder Flycatchers were different singles in Dundy, NE 26 May, both photographed (SMl, MW). Easterly Say’s Phoebes were singles in Madison, NE 29 Apr (JTh); Riley, KS 30 Mar–1 Apr (LM); Elk, KS 5 Apr (CS, AN); and at Hackberry Flat 26 Mar (BS). A Vermilion Flycatcher in Pratt, KS 10 Apr (MPe) was unexpected that far northeasterly. Northeasterly for their range also were Cassin’s Kingbirds in Keith, NE 24 May (MW); Sheridan, NE 11 May (D&MW); and Garden, NE 27 May (SMl). Early Western Kingbirds were singles in Lincoln, NE 21 Apr (BE) and Johnson, NE 22 Apr (SQ). Black-capped Vireos are still maintaining their northernmost outpost in Blaine, OK; at least 12 were observed 20 Apr–30 May (JAG, JRs). The 46 Bell’s Vireos at Rock Creek S.R.A, Dundy, NE 26 May (SMl, MW) was an impressive tally. A Yellow-throated Vireo was early at Red Slough 18 Mar (DA), and another was westerly in Washington, KS 10 May (TE, KG, PJ). An extraordinary record was of a Cassin’s Vireo far to the east in Platte, NE 18 May (EB, ph). Another Cassin’s Vireo, still quite rare in spring along the region’s western edge, was one in Texas, OK 10 May (JSm). A westerly Philadelphia Vireo was in Payne, OK 9 May (SL).

A Steller’s Jay wintering at a Scotts Bluff, NE feeder was last reported 8 May (CC, MC). Fish Crows continue to move into northeastern Kansas; one was in Riley 21 Mar (BV, ES) and four were in Johnson, KS 20 Mar (EBr). In Oklahoma, a Fish Crow was pushing the edge of its range into Alfalfa 7 Apr (BM). Chihuahuan Raven continues to re-establish in southwestern Oklahoma; singles were at two locations in Harmon 16 Mar and 9 Apr (JEB), and in Jackson 4 May (JEB). The ongoing conundrum of ravens in southwestern Kansas also continues. Barring ID issues, Common Ravens were being reported in the westernmost tier of counties, with three in Stanton, KS 18 May (HA, JC), possibly excluding Chihuahuans that are still being reported by some reliable observers (fide CO). The only report of Mountain Chickadee was of one at feeders in Scotts Bluff, NE 5–31 Mar (CC, MC). Possibly a breeder at the date was one Red-breasted Nuthatch in Sedgwick, KS 25 May (PJ). A Brown-headed Nuthatch was northerly in Latimer, OK 5 May (B&LA). Two Rock Wrens in Loup, NE 14 May (KSk) were easterly. An uncertain Pacific/Winter Wren was in Cimarron, OK 2 Apr (DR)—either are extralimital there. Tardy Winter Wrens were in Lancaster, NE 12 May (LP) and at Quivira 20 Apr (AM); another was westerly in Hall, NE 12 Apr (SM). A Bewick’s Wren in Sequoyah, OK 22 Mar (SBe) was in what has become a low-density part of its range. Tardy was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Douglas, NE 29 May (ME).

Easternmost Mountain Bluebirds were singles in Lancaster, NE 2 Mar (JS, LS, JSu) and Douglas, KS 16 Mar (MMH). Low numbers of Townsend’s Solitaires were noted in Nebraska and Oklahoma with none easterly in Nebraska (fide WRS, JAG). Veery is a rare spring migrant in the eastern region; seven were reported in Nebraska 5–15 May (fide WRS); one in Reno, central KS (AM); and two in central Oklahoma 29 Apr (DW) and 6 May (SL). Two Western Bluebirds fringed into Cimarron, OK 18 Mar (JB), a rare encounter. A Varied Thrush in a Lancaster, NE yard remained until 20 Mar (M&CV). A belated report was of another Varied Thrush in a Douglas, NE yard 18–27 Feb (fide NR, ph). A Curve-billed Thrasher fringed northeasterly to Kearny, KS 3 Apr (SSh, TS). Early Brown Thrashers in Nebraska were in Hall 18 Mar (SM), Hamilton 22 Mar (WDR), and Buffalo 30 Mar (BB). Northerly Northern Mockingbirds were four in Loup, NE 14 Apr (TB). The only reports of Evening Grosbeak were at irregular western-region locations: one in Finney, KS 26 Mar (SSh) and two in Cimarron, OK 17 Apr (JAn, JWi, JW). A wintering flock of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in Sioux, NE was reported through 5 Mar (MC, NA, MW). Quite late was a Purple Finch in Burt, NE 20 May (PT); also late was one in Johnston, OK 11 Apr (JRo). The last of only four wintering Common Redpolls in Nebraska was in Adams 15 Mar (PD). Red Crossbill numbers also were quite low in the northern region, only 11 reported in Nebraska (fide WRS), although two made it as far south as Grant, KS 6 May (PA). Outlier Lesser Goldfinch this season were easterly in Finney, KS 14 Mar (SSh, TS), Clark, KS 15 May (MR), and Ellis, KS 31 May (HA).

Longspurs through Icterids

A Lapland Longspur was tardy in Wayne, NE 26 Apr (EB). Snow Bunting numbers were low, with only six individuals reported, all in Nebraska, although one in Dakota 13 Apr (EB, BFH) was quite tardy. At least seven Green-tailed Towhees fringed the western edge of region in Kimball, NE, Morton, KS and Cimarron and Texas, OK 27 Apr–10 May (fide WRS, CO, JAG). An Eastern Towhee in Ford, KS 3 May (JC, CMc) was westerly. A Cassin’s Sparrow in Harper, OK 5 Apr (BM) was early. A Grasshopper Sparrow in Johnston, OK 14 Mar (JRo) was likely overwintering (fide JAG), as might have been a Chipping Sparrow in Lancaster, NE 1–4 Mar (JS, JSu, LS). Early sparrows were two Clay-coloreds in Wayne, NE 9 Apr (EB); a Field in Sarpy, NE 19 Mar (EW, RWi); and a Lark in Payne, OK 14 Mar (SL). Two American Tree Sparrows in Cass, NE 5 May (CWo) were tardy. Lark Buntings pushing eastward in Nebraska were two in York 20 May (PR), three in Dixon 23 May (JJ), and one in Knox 23 May (JTh). A Savannah Sparrow at a Sandhills marsh in Arthur, NE 30 May (WF) may have been a tardy migrant or a breeder; breeding is rare and local in the western Sandhills. A dark Savannah Sparrow of a likely northeastern subspecies was tardy in Payne, OK 23 May (DH). Baird’s Sparrow migrates through the region, but reports are much less than annual; this season, one was documented in Washita, OK 12 May (MMc), with another in northeastern Sioux, NE 17 May (DT, m. ob.). A singing Henslow’s Sparrow in Webster, NE 31 May was a bit west of the currently understood range, but in suitable breeding habitat (JGJ). The only Nelson’s Sparrows reported this season were in Lancaster, NE 12 May (TEL) and Neosho, KS 20 May (AB).

Tardy Fox Sparrows were singles in Washington, OK 9 Apr (MD) and quite late in Douglas, KS 3 May (KSa). A Lincoln’s Sparrow that wintered in a Saunders, NE yard was last reported 13 Apr (WM). A very late Song Sparrow was in Payne, OK 3 May (SL). A Swamp Sparrow in Cimarron, OK 5 May (CF) was westerly and tardy; also late was one in Oklahoma, OK 9 May (BM). Very early or likely overwintering were two White-throated Sparrows in Rock, NE 24 Mar (K&JC), while one in Jackson, KS 30 May (LZ) was tardy. Also late was a White-crowned Sparrow in Cheyenne, KS 28 May (MK). A Harris’s Sparrow, rare in the Nebraska Panhandle, that wintered in a Scotts Bluff yard was last seen 22 Apr (KD); others westerly were two in Dawes 11–12 Apr (SLe), and one in Sheridan 5 May (D&MW). A Dark-eyed (White-winged) Junco was quite far easterly in Hall, NE 5 Mar (SM, details).

The 22 Yellow-breasted Chats in Dundy, NE 26 May (SMl, MW) was a record spring count. Early was a male Orchard Oriole in Douglas, KS 22 Apr (KC, DP). An amazing tally of 136 Orchard Orioles in Dundy, NE 26 May (SMl, MW) timed peak migration. An adult male Bullock’s Oriole in Harlan, NE 16 May (IBM) was easterly as was another in Pontotoc, OK 18 Apr (BCa). An odd male Baltimore Oriole in Douglas, KS 7 Apr (CCG) may have been overwintered or arrived early. Bronzed Cowbirds in Cimarron, OK 30 Apr (SMz) and Seward, KS 5 May (JN) may represent a small incipient population beginning to push into the region since 2018. A westerly Rusty Blackbird in Kimball, NE 13 Apr (CW, SMl) was unexpected. Early Rusties in Nebraska were two each on 11 and 14 Mar in Cherry (JED) and three in Antelope 19 Mar (SB); late was one in Dodge, NE 3 May (GR).

Wood-warblers through Dickcissel

Golden-winged Warblers showed well in Nebraska with five at Fontenelle Forest, Sarpy 12 May (DBe); singles were westerly in Kansas to Sedgwick 7 May (CVB) and Clay 10 May (TE, KG, PJ); and in Oklahoma at different locations in Washington 5 (MP) and 6 May (JE). Also, far westerly was a Blue-winged Warbler in Barton, KS 8 May (JG). Breaking pattern westerly was a Swainson’s Warbler in Creek, OK 15 May (SMz). Numbers of Tennessee Warbler were higher westerly in Nebraska than expected; seven were in Sheridan 18–24 May (D&MW), and a good tally of 31 was made in Brown, NE during May (fide JED). Also westerly was a Nashville Warbler in Dawes, NE 12 May (DT). Connecticut Warbler is a regional “zootie;” this season four were reported: in Douglas, KS 12 May (SDe), Dakota, NE 27 May (BFH), and Dixon, NE 30 My (EB, MB), with one far westerly in Elsworth, KS 11 May (DK, RSz, ph). MacGillivray’s Warblers edged eastward in Scott and Thomas, KS 24 May (JC). Territorial Kentucky Warblers were westerly at two locations in Pawnee, NE 15 & 19 May (SBn). An early Common Yellowthroat was in Kimball, NE 13 Apr (SMl). Westerly were Hooded Warblers in Oklahoma, OK 24 Apr (JW) and (far westerly) in Cheyenne, KS 16 May (MK). Rare eastern migrant Cape May Warblers were sighted in Franklin, KS 6 May (MG, TSw), Sarpy, NE 11 May (DL, KSk, BSt), and Douglas, NE 12 May (SMe). Westerly were 1–2 Magnolia Warblers in Sheridan, NE 18–25 May (D&MW), where less than annual. Bay-breasted Warbler is usually scarce in spring, although there were four reports in eastern Nebraska 14–20 May (IS, TJW, BFH) and two westerly in Sedgwick, KS 6 May (TE), and Oklahoma, OK 8 May (JW, LMa, BD).

Other eastern warblers westerly were a Blackburnian Warbler in Buffalo, NE 23–24 May (AF, JNi); several Blackburnians in four central Oklahoma counties 1–16 May (fide JAG) west to Blaine 1 May (JO); a Chestnut-sided Warbler in Sheridan, NE 18–19 May (D&MW); and a Blackpoll Warbler in Seward, KS 12 May (KC, DP). There were a surprising four reports of the less-than-annual Black-throated Blue Warbler––singles in Lyon, KS 3 & 6 May (DO); Harvey, KS 9 May (CS, also westerly); and Sarpy, NE 18 (KH, BW, MW) and 27 May (MS). Westerly Palm Warblers appeared at Quivira 2 May (JMi); in Seward, KS 6 & 9 May (RK); and Major, OK 11 May (ZP). An exceptionally early Palm Warbler was in Washington, OK 26 Mar (MD) and another was just early in Tulsa, OK 13 Apr (MP). Pine Warblers are rare in the northern region; this season, singles were at different Lancaster, NE locations 27 (M&CV) & 27–29 Apr (SK, m. ob.); two were in Sarpy, NE 12 May (JOK); with one in Wayne, NE 22–25 May (EB, PR, JJ). An excellent tally of Yellow-rumped Warblers was the 340 in Lancaster, NE 3 May (SBn, OD). An easterly Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler was in Lancaster, NE 21 Apr (HM) and singles were early in Scotts Bluff, NE 13 Apr (CW, SMl), and tardy in Kimball, NE 25 May (MW). Prairie Warblers in Johnson, KS 14 Apr (DKh, WK) and Neosho, KS 9 May (AB) were extralimital. Townsend’s Warbler, a rare westerly-edge migrant, was in Texas, OK 10 May (JSm). Edging westerly was a Canada Warbler in Payne, OK 15 May (SL).

Northern Cardinal continues to expand slowly northwestward in Nebraska; two were in Dawes 2 Apr (SDu), and singles were in Box Butte 25 Mar–2 Apr (JJJ, SDu). Rose-breasted Grosbeaks made it as far west as Box Butte, NE 10 May (JAr) and Woodward, OK 4 May (DPa); another was early in Sarpy, NE 26 Apr (L&BP). Black-headed Grosbeaks easterly were in Jackson, KS 10–11 May (LZ), at Hefner 11 May (CE), and Gage, NE 31 May (KHG). A Lazuli Bunting westerly and early was in Keith, NE 26 Apr (AP, AJo, ph). Also early were single Painted Buntings in Geary, KS 23 Apr (MR) and Pottawatomie, KS 23 Apr (DBu).

Report processed by José Ramírez-Garofalo, 13 May 2020.

Photos–Southern Great Plains: Spring 2019

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