Contributing observers: (Sub-regional editors in boldface)
NEBRASKA: Gautam Apte, Noah Arthur, Erik Atwell (EAt), Wendy Becker, Eric Bents (EBe), Shannon Blake (SBl), Stephen Brenner (SBr), Ed Brogie (EBr), Lee Brogie (LBr), Mark Brogie, Barbara Brown, Charles Brown, Bill & Janis Buckingham (B&JB), Tim Buskirk, Scott Buss, Colleen Childers (CCh), Dan & Jamalee Clark (D&JC), Mary Clausen, Jen Corman (JCo), Colin Croft, Charlotte Croshaw (CCr), Colin Daro, Olivia DaRugna, Kathy DeLara, Taylor Dixon, James E. Ducey, Paul Dunbar, Kathy Mihm Dunning, Boni Edwards, Larry Einemann, Andrew Elgin, Rita Flohr, Andrew Furman, Tom Gannon, Ellen Gartner, Kandace Glanville (KGl), Ian Godwin, Lynette Hahne, John W. Hall, Rachel Hall, Suzanne Hasiak, Kadynn Hatfield, Lesley Howard (LHo), Bill F. Huser, Esa Jarvi, Kent & Sandra Jensen (K&SJ), Mike Johnson, Joel G. Jorgensen, Karen Kader, Lynette Keeshan, Alice Kenitz, Caden Klanderman, Marquene Koontz (MKo), Steve Kruse, Dan Leger, Tony Leukering, Sam Manning (SMa), Emma Martin, D. Matlock (DMa), Frank Mayer, Sheriena McEvers (SMc), Steve Mlodinow, Wayne Mollhoff, Ken Mumm, Molly Nightingale, Jonathan Nikkila, Joseph O’Keefe, Loren & Babs Padelford (L&BP), Christina Parks, Shane Patterson, Greg Pella (GPe), Brian Peterson, Mark Peterson, Doug Pollard, Neal Ratzlaff, Mike Remund (MRe), Allen Reyer, Justin Rink, Gary Roberts, Theresa Sampson (TSa), Dave Sandahl, Todd Schmidt (TSc), W. Ross Silcock, Jason St. Sauver (JSS), Kent Skaggs (KSk), Randy Skaggs (RSk), Marie Smith, Tammy Snyder, Ruthie Stearns (RSt), Jim Sullivan (JSu), Linda Sullivan, Phil Swanson, Jason Thiele (JTh), Paul Timm, David Tonnessen, Rob Tyser, T. J. Walker, Bobby Walz, Kylee Warren, Gordon Warrick, Eli Weber, Juanita Whittecar (JWh), Don & Marion Wiedemann (D&MW), Andrea Wiggins, Michael Willison, KANSAS: Dallas Alexander (DAl), Medhavi Ambardar, Will Anderson, Henry Armknecht, Emily Brosnan, Andrew Burnett, Jeff Calhoun, Randy Carman, Kathy Carroll, Caryl Chacey-Guba (CCG), Lucas Deccico, Stephen DeHart (SDH), Corey Entriken, Tom Ewert, Christopher Frick (CFr), Gregg Friesen, Andrew George, Malcolm Gold, Kevin Groeneweg, Peter Grund, Dallas Hewitt, Christie Hofling, Pete Janzen, Will Jaremko-Wright (WJW), Allen Jetmore, Mark Keller, Dave Klema, Thomas Koffel, Mark Land, Mark Longabaugh (MLo), Terry Mannell, Mick McHugh (MMH), Debra McKee (DMK), Christi McMillen (CMM), Don Merz, Andrew Miller, Anthony Miller (Ami), Joseph Miller (JMi), Michael Miller (MMi), Lynnea Nelson, Rochelle Nelson, Mark Nolen, Chuck Otte, Rishi Palit (RPa), Rob Penner, Brandon Percival (BPv), Erin Persinger, Barbara Peterson (BPe), Mark Peterson, Galen Pittman, Marie Plinsky (MPl), Jenn Rader (JRa), Mike Rader, Dave Rintoul, Mark Robbins (MRo), John Schukman, Roger Schultz, Carolyn Schwab, Olivia Seger, Dave Seibel (DSe), Sara Shane (SSh), Tom Shane (TSh), Faith Shapley-Queen (FSQ), Terry Swope (TSw), John Tollefson, David Tonnessen, Liza Vaughn, Jeff Witters (JWi), Craig Yerby, Molly Zahn, John Zempel, Linda Zempel, OKLAHOMA: Bill & Linda Adams (B&LA), Ty Allen, Will Anderson, David Arbour, James W. Arterburn, Ellen Ataie, Reg Bamford, Sherm & Sharon Barr (S&SB), Sandy Berger (SBe), Mark Braunschweig (MBr), Will Britton (WBr), Chris Butler (CBu), Bill Carrell, Logan Carter, Allen Codding, James Codding (JCd), Jacob Crissup (JCr), Steve Davis (SDa), Roseanna Denton, Bill Diffin, Melinda Droege, Zach Dufran, Samantha Duhe, Josh Engelbert, Colby Farquhar, Braden Farris, Joseph A. Grzybowski, Dick Gunn, Richard Hasewaga (RHa), Debbie Hirt (DHi), Grace Huffman, Todd Humphrey, John Hurd, Lorraine Lanning, Bob Laval, Matt & Seinna Leach (M&SL), Scott Loss, Jimmy Lovett, Mike Ludewig (MLu), Brian Marra, Larry Mays, Michael McCloy, Kurt & Sharon Meisenzahl (K&SM), Steve Metz (SMe), Jessica Mitcham, Terry Mitchell (TMi), Chase Moxley (CMo), Landon Neuman (LNe), Bruce Neville, Daron Patterson (DPa), Mark Peterson, Mark & Mary Peterson (M&MP), Zach Poland, Lewis Pond
Justin Roach (JRo), Christopher Rustay, Ben Sandstrom, Jana Singletary (JSi), Josh Smith (JSm), Andy Stepniewski, Curtis Stewart (CSt), John Tharp (JTp), Olen & Teresa Thomas (O&TT), Steven Thompson, David Tonnessen, Lou & Mary Truex (L&MT), Jerry Vanbebber, Nadine Varner, Cathy Webster, Ken Williams (KWi), Doug Wood, Jimmy Woodard, Rachel Wrenn, Mike Yough.
Waterfowl through Hummingbirds
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, vacillating in range expansion, were as far north this season as Garfield Co., NE 17 May (DP fide JGJ); 9 Oklahoma reports away from McCurtain Co. involved about 40 birds (fide JAG). The season’s first whistling-ducks were singles in Johnson Co., NE 13 Apr (MRe) and Barton Co., KS 27 Mar (MR), and 1–2 at Red Slough 26–27 Mar (DA). Scattered arctic-nesting geese lingered south to Oklahoma: single Snow Geese in Oklahoma Co. 11 May (BF) and Payne Co. 27 May (SL); 2 Cackling Geese in Garfield Co. 21 Apr (CSt) and 1 in Payne Co. 23 & 25 Apr (SL, DHi). A tardy Trumpeter Swan was in Brown Co., KS 5 Apr (DM). Up to 15 Tundra Swans were in wetlands in Burt and nearby Thurston Cos., NE 29 Feb–5 Mar (PT, EBr, LBr); the last to leave Oklahoma were 6 in Alfalfa Co. 1 Mar (BM). Cinnamon Teal were conspicuous in the eastern region, with 10 reports in all 3 states 19 Mar–23 May (fide WRS, CO, JAG).
While hybrids are routinely observed, Nebraska produced a notable array this season. Almost as many Blue-winged × Cinnamon Teal as phenotypic Cinnamons were reported in eastern NE; 4 were at 4 locations 7 Apr–2 May (fide WRS). A rare Northern Shoveler × Gadwall hybrid was photographed in York Co., NE 9 May (BP). “Storm” or “White-cheeked” Wigeon is a rare variant of American Wigeon; 1 was in Antelope Co., NE 31 Mar (MB), which also had one–possibly the same bird–in Apr 2018. Rounding out Nebraska’s unusual ducks this spring was an apparent Bufflehead × Common Goldeneye hybrid photographed in Dodge Co. 19 Apr (CCr).
A Mottled Duck, rare anywhere in the region, was at Red Slough 28 Apr (DA). Late diving ducks included a Canvasback in Comanche Co., OK 25 Apr (BF), a Ring-necked Duck in Johnston Co., OK 17 May (JRo), and a Common Goldeneye in Lincoln Co., NE 18 May (BE). Scoters are generally rare in the region; this season, there were 8 reports of Surf Scoter 6 Mar–8 Apr in 3 states, 3 of White-winged Scoter 6 Mar–2 Apr in Oklahoma and Kansas, and 4 of Black Scoter 9 Mar–10 Apr in Kansas and Nebraska (fide JAG, CO, WRS). The high count for Black was 6, in Douglas Co., KS 14–19 Mar (TK). The only Long-tailed Duck reported was in Russell Co., KS 9 Apr (MR). Breeding or vagrant Hooded Mergansers are increasingly being detected in the eastern region; reports came from Lancaster Co., NE (LH, m.ob.) and 5 counties in Oklahoma during late May (fide JAG). Late mergansers included 2 Commons in Douglas Co., NE 31 May (B&JB) and a Red-breasted in Sequoyah Co., OK 13 May (JAG). The 16,000 Ruddy Ducks at Salt Plains Reservoir, Alfalfa Co., OK was a stunning tally on 24 Mar (JAG). This likely represents a significant portion of the region’s migrants. 2 Eared Grebes at Hackberry Flat 12 Mar (L&MT) were early. The only Red-necked Grebe reported, a regional rarity, was the individual wintering at Hefner, last noted 20 Mar (m.ob.). The only report of Western Grebe in the main body of Oklahoma this season was 3 in Woods Co., OK 22 Mar (ST); one was in Douglas Co., eastern KS 6 May (MLo).
A Black-billed Cuckoo, now rare in the region, was photographed in Sarpy Co., NE 23 May (KK); 3 were reported in eastern Oklahoma, in Tulsa Co. 3–16 (JSm, ZP) & 21 May (JL), and in Rogers Co. 16 May (JSm). Very early Common Poorwills were found in Woodward Co., OK 27 Mar (DPa) and Chase Co., NE 7 Apr (MB). A Chuck-wills-widow recorded in Saunders Co., NE 5 May (SMa) was pushing the northerly edge of its range. A Whip-poor-will in Harvey Co., KS 17 May (GF) was westerly. The season’s first Chimney Swifts were one in Rogers Co., OK 27 Mar (BL), and another in Douglas Co., KS 28 Mar (PG, MZ). Early-arriving hummingbirds included Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in Payne Co., OK 26 Mar (O&TT) and Rogers Co., OK 27 Mar (MLu); and a Black-chinned in Comanche Co. 27 Mar (K&SM). A Ruby-throated in Cheyenne Co., KS 17 May (MK) was westerly. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are also spreading northerly and easterly in the region; one reached Barton Co., KS by 10 May (RP), and 5–6 encroached to central and north-central Oklahoma: 1–2 in Cleveland Co. beginning 11 Apr (JTp, RW, ZD, JAG), several in Oklahoma Co. beginning 23 Apr (BM, CMo, JCd, AC), and 2 in Alfalfa Co. 9 May (CSt). Nebraska’s 4th Anna’s Hummingbird, a female, was a surprise in Dawes Co., NE 28 May (JWh, photos). Broad-tailed Hummingbird showed well this spring in Nebraska, with 3 different birds in Scotts Bluff Co. 5 May, 13 May and 18 May (CC), and 2 others in Dawes Co. –the first 19 May through the period (JWh); the other on 26 May (JWh). A Rufous Hummingbird in Payne Co., OK 26–27 Apr (LNe) was an exceptional spring find.
Rails through Shorebirds
2 King Rails, rare in Oklahoma away from Red Slough, were at Hackberry Flat 8 May (L&MT, JV), and another was in Garfield Co. 14 May (CSt). A wintering Sora in Roger Mills Co., OK was still present 7–8 Mar (L&MT, K&SM), and another in Lancaster Co., NE 30 Mar (TS fide JGJ) was quite early. An early Common Gallinule was at Red Slough 16 Mar (DA), where expected; this is a species that re-entered some historically used sites in spring 2020: one was in Pawnee Co., NE 30 May (JGJ), another was in Crawford Co., KS 2 May (AG), one was in Shawnee Co., KS 26 May (RN, LN), and 2 were at Hackberry Flat 28 May (L&MT). The 82 Purple Gallinules at Red Slough 26 May (DA) indicates success of the species in this regional locality. 3 Sandhill Cranes over Miami Co., KS 25 Mar (CY) were easterly. A Common Crane, regionally exceptional, was near Lewellen, Garden Co., NE 12 Mar, where one–probably the same individual–was found in Apr 2019 (KW). A Whooping Crane in Wagoner Co., OK 25 Apr (TMi, BC, M&SL) was likely from the Louisiana population; other migrants were 5 in Garfield Co., OK 29–31 Mar (JV, M&MP) and 8 in McPherson Co., KS 30 Mar (TE). Black-necked Stilts arrived early throughout the region; 7 were in Oklahoma at Hackberry Flat 10 Mar (JAG), singles were in Kansas on 27 Mar at 2 sites, Cheyenne Bottoms (RP) and in Ford Co., (CMM), and in Nebraska, 2 were in Hitchcock Co. 11 Apr (BE). An American Avocet wintering at Hackberry Flat was still present 13 Mar (L&MT).
An exceedingly early Black-bellied Plover was in Canadian Co., OK 7 Apr (JW, NV); American Golden-Plovers arrived at Hackberry Flat 11–12 Mar (L&MT) and Tulsa Co., OK 13 Mar (2 birds; ZP). Piping Plovers were reported from 5 eastern and central Oklahoma counties 17 Apr–1 May (fide JAG); banded Piping Plovers re-sighted in Nebraska are revealing a higher level of dispersal by adults than previously thought (fide WRS). An easterly Mountain Plover was at Cheyenne Bottoms 16 Apr (RP), and 3 more were in Trego Co., KS 27 Apr (HA). 2 Snowy Plovers in Saunders Co., NE 18 Apr (GR) and Fillmore Co., NE 23–26 Apr (JGJ, SMa) were northerly, and a report from Tulsa Co. 18–21 Mar (ZP, MP) was easterly. 3 at Hackberry Flat 10 Mar (JAG) were early. Whimbrels were prominent in Oklahoma this season; the high counts were 43 and 59 at Salt Plains Reservoir, Alfalfa Co., 8–9 May (CSt, KWi). In Nebraska, only 2 Whimbrel were noted, those in Nemaha Co. 15 May (NR). Of the up to 14 Long-billed Curlews wintering at Hackberry Flat, 10 were still present 13 Mar (L&MT). Easterly Long-billed Curlews were in Canadian Co., OK 20 Apr (BD), with a surprising 15 in Tulsa Co., OK 22 Mar (ZP). The 12 Hudsonian Godwits in Sarpy Co., NE 8 Apr (MJ) were early, as was one in McPherson Co., KS 4 Apr (DH). A Hudsonian Godwit in Wayne Co., NE 16 Apr had been banded–at Chiloe Island, southern Chile, 9500 km away (fide EBr)! A Ruddy Turnstone in Pierce Co., NE 25 Apr (SB) was early. Also early were 2 Stilt Sandpipers at Hackberry Flat 10 Apr (JW, NV).
3 wintering Dunlin remained at Hackberry Flat into April (fide JAG), but the first migrants were in Douglas Co., KS 4 Apr (GP), and in Sequoyah Co., OK 13 Apr (SBe). Baird’s Sandpipers in Lancaster Co., NE 10–11 Mar (LE, m.ob.) and Nuckolls Co., NE 11 Mar (JSu) were early. White-rumped Sandpipers were widespread, appearing north to Nebraska early, by mid-Apr: 1 was in Lancaster Co. 19–25 Apr (SK, m.ob; photo), and 3 were in Saunders Co. 19 Apr (TG, photo). Buff-breasted Sandpipers were sparse in Oklahoma, with no flocks greater than 17 reported (fide JAG). 6 Pectoral Sandpipers at Hackberry Flat 10 Mar (L&MT) were early. Western Sandpiper is a rare spring migrant in the region whose status is difficult to monitor because of identification issues with other “peep” species. This season, confirmed observations were recorded from 30 Mar [Tulsa Co., OK (TM)] to 26 May [Hall Co., NE (GA)]. Only 3 Westerns were documented in Nebraska (fide WRS), about 30 total were in Oklahoma (fide JAG) –perhaps more than the norm–and about 90 were in Kansas, most from Quivira, with a high count of 44 on 25 Apr (RPa). A Long-billed Dowitcher in Madison Co., NE 9 Mar (JTh) was early; numbers at Hackberry Flat had built up to 279 by 6 Mar (L&MT), with 2800-3000 there 10–11 Mar (JAG, L&MT). Westerly breeding of American Woodcock in Nebraska was confirmed with an adult and 2 fledglings found in Garfield Co. 6 May (TD fide JGJ). A woodcock in Ellsworth Co., KS 16 Mar (RS) was westerly. A Solitary Sandpiper in Tulsa Co., OK 25 Mar (ZP) was early, as were 3 Willets in Johnson Co., KS 4 Apr (AJ). Red-necked Phalaropes are rare migrants, with most reports coming from mid-late May in the northwesterly portion of the region. This season’s ranged from the western Oklahoma Panhandle east to Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira in central Kansas (beginning 26 Apr), along with scattered reports through Nebraska (fide JAG, CO, WRS).
Gulls through Kites
An adult Little Gull in Canadian Co, OK 21 Apr (JAG, photo) was a surprise find. The only Laughing Gull this season, a rare visitor, was a sub-adult in Woodward Co., OK 8–12 May (BC). Mew Gull is less-than annual in Nebraska; this season, 2 were reported from McConaughy: an adult 12 Apr (NA, photo), and a first-cycle bird 23 Mar (SM, photo). The usual numbers of California Gulls, 8 birds 10 Mar–25 May, were reported in western Nebraska (fide WRS); the only report elsewhere was a 1st-cycle bird in Woodward Co., OK 3–15 May (AS, JAG, m.ob.). A late Herring Gull was in Tulsa Co., OK 12 May (MBr). A “Nelson’s” (Glaucous × Herring) Gull identified in Tulsa Co., OK 11 Mar (JWA) was an unusual find. The 14 Iceland (“Thayer’s”) Gulls at McConaughy 18 Mar (NA) was a record spring tally, and one there 3 May (BE) was a record late date. Paler Icelands were also at McConaughy: a very pale “glaucoides/kumlieni” 8 Mar (KMD, photo), a “thayeri/kumlieni” 20 Mar (NA), and a slightly darker bird 23 Mar (SM, photo). A 1st-cycle Iceland was in Johnson Co., KS 23 Mar (ML). Lesser Black-backed Gulls are unequally distributed in the region. 9 at McConaughy 18 Mar (NA) were part of the 21 noted in Nebraska; however, singles in Miami Co., KS 19 Mar (MMH), Canadian Co., OK 3–5 Mar (JV, JCr), Kay Co., OK 8 Mar (RD), and at Hackberry Flat 10 Mar (a 1st-cycle bird JAG), were the only reports for Kansas and Oklahoma. 4 Glaucous Gulls were reported from 4 Nebraska locations 8–30 Mar (fide WRS), but the only other report was of one at Cheyenne Bottoms 27 Mar (MR). 3 Great Black-backed Gulls, less-than-annual, were found: 2 in Lancaster Co., NE 6–29 Mar (SK, NA, m.ob.) and a 1st-winter bird in Jefferson Co., KS 1–15 Mar (GP, m.ob.).
500 Black Terns at Red Slough 8 May was a very high count (JAG). Early Sterna terns arrived in Lancaster Co., NE: a Common 29 Apr (KSk) and a Forster’s 28 Mar (TJW). 2 Common Loons lingered in Tulsa Co., OK 27 May (BC, MBr). An injured, wintering Yellow-billed Loon in Oklahoma Co., OK was captured 11 Apr (JW, m.ob.), but soon succumbed, due to fishing line entanglement. Neotropic Cormorants have become rare but regular in much of Oklahoma, and now are expanding northward to Kansas. Singles were north to Lancaster Co., NE 12 Mar (SK) & 20 Mar (LE). An American Bittern in Hamilton Co., NE 29 Mar (RF) and a Least Bittern in Sarpy Co., NE 27 Apr (EW) were both early. Least Bitterns are another erratically distributed marshland species in this region. They were located in Garden Co., NE 30 May (RT), Lancaster Co., NE 12–15 May (LS), in 5 Kansas counties west to Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira (fide CO), and in 5 Oklahoma counties (away from Red Slough) west to Hackberry Flat this season (fide JAG). An early Great Egret was in Lincoln Co., NE 8 Mar (K&SJ), and singles in Sheridan Co. 2 May (D&MW) and Scotts Bluff Co. 19 Apr (KD) were rare panhandle finds. Little Blue Heron populations seem to be dwindling in the region. None were reported in Nebraska and reports in Kansas and Oklahoma have dropped recently (fide WRS, CO, JAG). Regionally rare Tricolored Heron was reported at Red Slough, where up to 3 were present 14–30 Apr (DA). A Cattle Egret in Platte Co., NE 1 Apr (EBr, LBr) was early; a Green Heron in Cherry Co., NE 21 May (DS) was westerly. 2 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons in Cleveland Co., OK 19 Mar (ZD) were early.
6 White Ibises at Red Slough 27 Mar (DA) were early; the only White Ibis reported away from Red Slough was in Johnston Co., OK 29–30 Apr (JRo). Glossy Ibis reports continue to accumulate throughout the region; in Nebraska, one in Clay Co. 11 Apr (CCh) was an early record, and 6 were there by 26 Apr (JGJ). A record 22 were reported statewide (fide WRS). At least 10 Glossies were reported in Kansas (fide CO), while in Oklahoma, there were 8 reports of 1–3 birds statewide 27 Mar–8 May (fide JAG). 11 hybrid Glossy × White-faced Ibises were reported in Nebraska, (fide WRS), 1 was in Sedgwick Co., KS 3 May (CH, MN), and 2 were in Oklahoma, at Hackberry Flat 1–23 Apr (JAG, L&MT) and in Alfalfa Co. 31 May (CSt). A White-faced Ibis was in Neosho Co., KS 28 Mar (AB) and a Roseate Spoonbill was at Red Slough 28 Apr (DA). Black Vultures keep edging northward, this season to northeastern Kansas: Jefferson Co. 10 Apr (DMK, MPl), Johnson Co. 25 Apr (ML), and Leavenworth Co. 27 Apr (EP). By the end of May, 5 Scotts Bluff Co., NE Osprey nests were active (D&JC fide AK); 3 were occupied by 8 Apr (KD). Oklahoma hosted early Osprey in Cotton Co. 1 Mar (TA), Tulsa Co. 8 Mar (BC), and Muskogee Co. 14 Mar (EA); late birds were in Payne Co. 27 May (SL) and Tulsa Co. 29 May (JSi). Oklahoma produced regionally rare kite sightings: a White-tailed Kite was in Sequoyah Co. 28 Mar (JM, CF), and single Swallow-taileds were in Tulsa Co. 28 Mar (TMi) and Washington Co. 14 May (JE, MD).
Golden Eagle through Vireos
Immature Golden Eagles, rare in the eastern region, were in Cedar Co. NE 3 Mar (JTh), Knox Co. NE 10 Apr (MB, EBr, LBr), and 2 were at Red Slough 24 Mar (DA). These latter birds were late for the location. A Harris’s Hawk in Sarpy Co. 13 Apr (SH, photo, fide JGJ) was a 1st spring record; although it perhaps wintered in the area, it was a different bird from the one banded in Sarpy Co. NE 14 Nov 2019 (fide MB). Westerly reports of the region’s forest hawks are increasing; a Red-shouldered was in Comanche Co. KS 18 May (GF), and Broad-winged Hawks in Nebraska were west to Scotts Bluff Co. 4–5 May (KMD, TL), Morrill Co. 26 May (TL, KMD), and Sheridan Co. 10–15 May (D&MW). A dark phase Broad-wing was over Sarpy Co. 20 Apr (AR). 8 Broad-wings in Bryan Co., OK 18 Mar (DW) were exceptionally early, as were Swainson’s in Tulsa Co., OK 8 Mar (BC) and Scott Co., KS 15 Mar (CE). A dark juvenile Red-tailed (“Harlan’s”) Hawk in Butler Co., NE 17 May (SMa, photo) was very late. Also late (and easterly) was the 1st-year Ferruginous Hawk in Fillmore Co., NE 3–6 May (JGJ photo, SBr). Long-eared Owls were in Sarpy Co., NE 30 May (JO) and Banner Co., NE 22 May (TL, KMD), dates which suggest possible breeding. 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls were calling in Douglas Co., NE 27–29 Mar (SMa, JR). Breeding Saw-whets continue in the Wildcat Hills, Scotts Bluff Co., NE, where chicks were found in a nest box 5 May (WM). Another was in Sowbelly Canyon, Sioux Co., NE 28 May (SM), where breeding likely occurs.
Lewis’s Woodpecker occurred in unexpected central locations, in Shawnee Co., KS 1–18 Mar (DAl), in Cleveland Co., central OK 8–18 Apr (CBu, m. ob.), and in Garden Co., NE 3 May (MKo fide CB). Given their absence in recent years, additional Lewis’s in Morton Co., KS 28 Apr (WJW), in Dawes Co., NE 30 May (2 birds; JN), and in Sioux Co., NE 27 May (KSk, RSk) were also notable. 2 Red-headed Woodpekers in Dixon Co., NE 7 & 27 Mar were northerly for the dates (EBr, LBr). A late Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was in Leavenworth Co., KS 12–19 May (KC, JS). Red-naped Sapsucker, rare in spring, was found in Garden Co., NE 23 Mar (SM), and another was eastward in Comanche Co., OK 1 Mar (TA). A Ladder-backed Woodpecker in Russell Co., KS 14 Apr (DK) was northerly. A Pileated Woodpecker in Kiowa Co., KS 27 Mar (JC) was westerly; this species is gently pushing west in the region. A “Prairie” Merlin in Russell Co., KS 10 May (MR) was late. Peregrine Falcons continue nesting successfully in eastern Nebraska; at least 7 chicks were near-fledging age at the 4 active locations in Lincoln and Omaha (fide WRS). A Prairie Falcon was easterly in Lancaster Co., NE 16 Mar (EJ). A Western Wood-Pewee calling in Frontier Co., NE 24 May (BE) was easterly, and an Eastern Wood-Pewee in Dawes Co., NE was westerly (KSk, RSk, recording). The 1–2 Alder Flycatchers at Red Slough 28 Apr–5 May (DA) were early. A Hammond’s Flycatcher, rare in spring, was in Scotts Bluff Co. 17 May (MS, KD), and another was well-described from Dawes Co. 28 May (SM). Dusky Flycatcher, always notable, was recorded in Kimball Co., NE 15 May (SM), in Sioux Co., NE 28 May (SM, photo), and in Kearny Co., KS 2 May (SSh). 11 Cordilleran Flycatchers in Sowbelly Canyon, Sioux Co., NE 28 May (SM) was a good tally. This is a prime breeding site, although some of this number could have been migrants.
Black Phoebe has edged into Cimarron Co., OK in recent years; one was there 17 May (MY, JCr). Records elsewhere in the region were from Scotts Bluff Co. 26 Apr–Nebraska’s first–(TL, KD), and from Morton Co., KS 5–6 Apr (LD) & 7 Apr (PJ). Early Say’s Phoebes were in Cheyenne Co., KS 11 Mar (MK), and 3 in Douglas Co., NE 23 Mar–18 Apr (EBe, photo), in Washington Co., NE 17 Apr (SMa), and in Stephens Co., OK 25 Mar (B&LA) were easterly. Vermilion Flycatcher edges into the very southwest corner of the region with singles this season in Morton Co., KS 5 & 6 Apr (LD), Cowley Co., KS 5 Apr (LV), Cimarron Co., OK 26 May (JV), and a pair at Optima Reservoir, Texas Co., OK 21 Apr & 7 May (AS, TMi, JW). An Ash-throated Flycatcher in Tillman Co., OK 29 Mar (L&MT) was very early. Nebraska’s first Great Kiskadee was a one-day-wonder (3 May) in Gage Co. (SMc). Early kingbirds included a Cassin’s in Cimarron Co., OK 19 Apr (AS), 4 more in Banner Co., NE 2–3 May (TL, KMD), and an Eastern in Lincoln Co., OK 28 Mar (RD). Single Scissor-tailed Flycatchers arrived early in Tulsa Co., OK 17 Mar (TH) and in Bryan Co., OK 18 Mar (DW). An early Loggerhead Shrike was in Frontier Co., NE 18 Mar (FM, SBl), and a tardy Northern Shrike was in Sheridan Co., NE 11 Apr (D&MW). Westerly vireos White-eyed in Scotts Bluff Co., NE 20 Apr (TL), Deuel Co., NE 22 May (DT, photo), Ford Co., KS 30 Apr & 3 May (JC), Ellis Co., KS 4 May (HA), and Riley Co., KS 30 May (DR); Yellow-throated Vireos in Cotton Co., OK 9 May (BS), and in 3 locations in Brown Co., NE 17 May (JCo), 19 May (DS), and 23 May (SB). There was a general shift of migrant eastern species westward this season; for vireos, this included 1–2 Blue-headed Vireos in Buffalo Co., NE 3–18 May (JN, AF), and a locally rare Philadelphia Vireo there 8 May (AF). Early Plumbeous Vireos in Nebraska were singles in Scotts Bluff Co. 4 May (KMD), Sioux Co. 6 May (TL, KMD), and Banner Co. 7 May (KMD, TL). Outside Nebraska, the only other Plumbeous reported was in Cimarron Co., OK 15 May & 16 May (JAG). A Warbling Vireo in Jefferson Co., KS 5 Apr (TM) was early.
Corvids through Goldfinches
Black-billed Magpie numbers in the region remain very low, though singles were noted in 3 extralimital locations in Nebraska: in Gosper Co. 24 Mar (AF), in Cheyenne Co. 29 Mar (IG, EM), and in Dawson Co. 18 May (KGl); the small, eastern, disjunct population in Madison Co., NE persists, with 3 seen 31 Mar (JTh). A calling Fish Crow in Marshall Co., KS 26 Apr (JZ, LZ) was northerly, and others in Blaine Co., OK 4 Apr (JV, JCr) and 1–2 in Alfalfa Co., OK 9–31 May (LC, CSt) were westerly. Chihuahuan Ravens are possibly recolonizing southwestern Oklahoma, with reports this season from Harmon Co. 10 Mar (BN) and at 2 different Tillman Co. locations 10–11 Mar (BN, L&MT). One in Stanton Co., KS 9 May (WA, DT) was northerly. A Tree Swallow in Tulsa Co., OK 1 Mar (TMi) and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow in Lancaster Co. 1 Apr (TG, JSS, MW) were early, while a Violet-Green Swallow in Pratt Co., KS 15 Apr was surprisingly far east (MP). A Purple Martin, rare in the Nebraska panhandle, was recorded in Scotts Bluff Co. 2 May (TL, KMD), and westerly breeding outposts in Cherry (JED), Keith (WB, LHo), and Dundy (MP) Cos., NE, continue to be active. Early Cliff Swallows included 2 in Tulsa Co. 9 Mar (BC), 3 in Blaine Co., OK 10 Mar (BN), and 1 in Lancaster Co., NE 4 Apr (LE). Cliff Swallows, recently established in southwestern Oklahoma, arrived in Tillman Co. 1 Apr (8 birds; JAG), and in Jackson Co. 2 Apr (14 birds; L&MT). The only report north of southwestern Oklahoma was at Cheyenne Bottoms 18 May (RP). A Verdin in Tillman Co., OK 29 Apr (DW) was easterly.
The large numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches reported in winter on the Nebraska Pine Ridge continued; 92 were tallied in Sioux Co. 29 Mar (SM), but in Oklahoma, “hardly any” (JAG) were present all season. A late Red-breasted was at feeders in Finney Co., KS 17–24 May (SSh). A Brown-headed Nuthatch was outside its limited southeastern Oklahoma range in Tulsa Co., OK 3–9 Mar (MP, ZP), and a first for that area. Easterly and northerly Rock Wrens were at 2 Cherry Co., NE locations 1–7 May (GW) and 14 May (TSc), and in Cherokee Co., OK 6–8 Mar (JWA, KWi, BC). A Sedge Wren in Douglas Co., KS 11 Mar (MZ, PG) perhaps wintered. Early Sedge Wrens were in Saunders Co., NE 21 Apr (LE), and Lancaster Co., NE 22 Apr (SBr, JGJ); 3 in Cherry Co., NE, were westerly 19–31 May (DS, EAt). Blue-gray Gnatcatcher range is expanding in this region, and one was in Thomas Co., NE 30 May (BW). Late kinglets tarrying were a Golden-crowned in Morton Co., KS 2 May (BPv), and Ruby-crowneds in Tulsa Co., OK 17 May (JSm), in Douglas Co., NE 27 May (JR), and Comanche Co., OK 28 May (JV, BS). Townsend’s Solitaires in Sedgwick Co., KS 14 Apr (BPe) and Cass Co., NE 10 Apr (DMa) were easterly. Veery was regionally more numerous than usual: there were 6 reports in Oklahoma 2–17 May (fide JAG), including one westerly in Cimarron Co. 15 May (JAG); and 29 reports in Nebraska with 5 from the Panhandle 23–25 May (fide WRS). Gray-cheeked Thrush, more frequent in the eastern areas of the region, were noted westerly to Cheyenne Co., NE 21 May (SM), and Marshall Co., KS 9 May (KG). Nebraska’s 2nd record of Swainson’s Thrush subspecies ustulatus, “Russet-backed Thrush” was photographed in Scotts Bluff Co. 15 May (SM).
A Hermit Thrush in Oklahoma Co., OK 30 Apr (JCr) was late. Another late Hermit Thrush was in Sioux Co., NE 28 May (SM). Formerly, Wood Thrush was found west in Oklahoma to Caddo and Comanche Cos., but the westernmost this spring were singles at different Payne Co., OK locations 3 (SL) & 31 May (LNe). A regionally rare Varied Thrush that wintered in Dawes Co., NE was last reported 14–26 Mar (EG, photo). A Gray Catbird in Oklahoma Co., OK 20–29 Mar (BM) perhaps overwintered, but one in Scotts Bluff Co. 1 May (TL, KMD) was likely a westerly, early migrant. The 3 Curve-billed Thrashers in Greer Co., OK (SD) were a noteworthy find. A Brown Thrasher, likely an early migrant, was in Sioux Co., NE 29 Mar (SM). Northerly Northern Mockingbirds were in Hooker Co., NE 22 May (DS) and Dixon Co., NE 21 May (PT). The only Bohemian Waxwing reported was at McConaughy 8 Mar (KMD, photo). 4 reports involving 10 Evening Grosbeaks came from Dawes Co., NE 1-24 May (fide WRS). This included a recording from Chadron 22 May of Call Type 1 (DT, CK). A total surprise was a Pine Grosbeak exceptionally south in Osage Co., OK 1–4 Mar (LP, m.ob.). 2 Purple Finches in Buffalo Co., NE 18 May (BB) were late. There were 7 reports of the rare Cassin’s Finch: 6 from the Nebraska Panhandle involving 8 birds 26 Mar–24 May (fide WRS) and the other, a single, in Cimarron Co., OK 7 May (TMi, JW). The only report of Common Redpoll, following a low-number winter, was a lingerer in a Dixon Co., NE yard through 20 Mar (TSa).
Red Crossbill was widespread, and some reports suggested breeding. The best numbers were on the Nebraska Pine Ridge, where 180 in Dawes Co. 25 May were comprised of 90-95% juveniles and 1st-cycle birds (TL, KMD). The expected Call Type 2 was widespread; the 2nd-most-common Type 4 was recorded in eastern Nebraska 5 Apr–16 May (SMa), and in the Nebraska Panhandle 29 Mar–23 May (fide WRS). More surprising were Red Crossbills that perhaps bred in Payne Co., OK; single males were singing at 2 locations: Couch Park in Stillwater 1 Mar–6 May (LNe, m. ob.) and Lake Carl Blackwell 12 May (SL). However, an all-day nest search at Couch Park was unsuccessful (JAG, LNe).
There were 3 reports of White-winged Crossbill, all in Nebraska: a female at a Sarpy Co. feeder 3 Apr (L&BP), 5 in Sheridan Co. 8 May (D&MW), and a female at a Nance Co. feeder 7 Mar (LK, photo). Late Pine Siskins in Kansas included 14 in Finney Co., including juveniles, through 24 May (SSh), 3 at feeders in Shawnee Co., 31 May (RC), and one at an Ellis Co. feeder 28 May (HA). Lesser Goldfinches beyond normal southwesterly bounds were in Adams Co., NE 28 Apr (PD), 1–2 through 23 Mar (SDa) and 12 May in Oklahoma Co., OK (JW, NV), singles in Logan Co., OK 4 May (RB), Kimball Co., NE 18 Mar (SM), Scotts Bluff Co., NE 11 Apr (CC), and Ford Co., KS 18 Apr (JC).
Longspurs through Icterids
A late flock of 55 Lapland Longspurs was in Wayne Co., NE 14 Apr (EBr). Easterly, patchily distributed Chestnut-collared Longspurs were in Clay Co., NE 6 May (JGJ, SBr), Merrick Co., NE 15 Apr (MB), and McClain Co., OK 28–30 Mar (LM et al.). The only Snow Bunting reported was in Buffalo Co., NE 7 Mar (K&SJ); the winter supplied widespread reports but low numbers. Bachman’s Sparrow breeds in southeastern Oklahoma in low numbers; 2 at a historical, western location in Atoka Co. 29 Mar (L&MT, JV) was encouraging. Early sparrows included a Lark Sparrow in Kiowa Co., KS 27 Mar (CMM), and a Field Sparrow in Cherry Co., NE 12–14 Mar (AE) that perhaps wintered. A Fox Sparrow in Oklahoma Co., OK 14 Apr (BM) was late. Tardy juncos included a Dark-eyed (“Slate-colored”) in Finney Co., KS 14 May (SSh) and Dark-eyed (“Pink-sided”) in Scotts Bluff Co., NE 18 Apr (SM) and in Banner Co., NE 2–3 May (TL, KMD). Dark-eyed (“Gray-headed”) Junco sometimes lingers into May; one was in Lincoln Co., NE 6 May (WB). The only report of the rare Golden-crowned Sparrow was in Jefferson Co., KS 11 Apr (LZ). A Harris’s Sparrow in Oklahoma Co., OK was quite late 27 May (BM), and 2 in Dawes Co., NE 16–17 May (TB) were late as well as westerly. Late White-throated Sparrows were in Tulsa Co., OK 17 May (ZP) and Douglas Co., KS 21 May (MRo). Only 1 Nelson’s Sparrow was reported, in Lancaster Co., NE 23 May (SBr, OD). A very early Henslow’s Sparrow was in Osage Co., OK 31 Mar (M&MP). Song Sparrows in Johnston Co., OK 26 Apr (JRo) and Tulsa Co., OK 29 Apr (ZP) were late, as was a Swamp Sparrow in Johnston Co., OK 9 May (JRo).
A Rufous-crowned Sparrow, rare and local in Kansas, was in Scott Co. 26 May (TSh, SSh). The only reports of Green-tailed Towhee were from Banner Co., NE, 2 May (TL, KMD), Scotts Bluff Co., NE 4–5 May (KMD), and Kimball Co., NE 15 May (SM). A Spotted Towhee in Scotts Bluff Co., NE 26 Mar (SM) was early, as was an Eastern Towhee in Dixon Co., NE 5 Mar (EBr, LBr, BFH). The situation regarding Pipilo towhees in Nebraska is intriguing. In the east-central portion including the counties of Dixon, Dodge, Hall, Buffalo, Kearney, and Webster, NE, 6 eBird reports mentioned Spotted × Eastern Towhee, with descriptions covering a range of plumage and vocalizations. Bullock’s Orioles in Sarpy Co., NE 9–12 May (CD) and in Leavenworth Co., KS 12 May (JT) and Harvey Co., KS 10 May (CS, MPl) were easterly. An early Baltimore Oriole was in Hall Co., NE 22 Apr (RF). Bronzed Cowbird, once a major rarity in the region, seems to be establishing itself in the far western Oklahoma Panhandle. One was in Cimarron Co. 3–26 May (SMe, m.ob.), and another was north to Seward Co., KS 26 May (SDH). A notably large flock of 30 Rusty Blackbirds in Lincoln Co., NE 4 Mar (BE) were near the western limits of their migration corridor; 2 in Buffalo Co., NE 8 Mar (CP) were also westerly.
An exceptional number of eastern warbler species were recorded in westerly locations this season. Ovenbirds were more common than usual in central Oklahoma (fide JAG). A Worm-eating Warbler in Lancaster Co., NE 18 May (DL, RSt, LE) was northerly; westerly Worm-eatings were found in Hamilton Co., KS 10 May (JC) and Cleveland Co., OK 9 May (JAG et al.). At least 56 Golden-winged Warblers, typically rare, were reported regionally. These may be due to their replacement of Blue-winged Warbler in Manitoba, but also perhaps from easterly winds that dominated this season. Golden-wingeds in Pratt Co., KS 6 May (MR), and Cleveland Co., OK 9 May (JTp et al.) were westerly. In contrast, only 2 migrant Blue-winged Warblers were found, those westerly in Gove Co., KS 30 Apr (CFr) and Franklin Co., KS 6 May (MG, KC, TSw). In addition, 2 Golden-winged × Blue-winged (“Brewster’s”) Warblers were reported in Nebraska, one in Madison Co. 8 May was thought to be a true F1 hybrid (MB, photos), and the other was thought a later-generation cross in Sarpy Co., NE 21 May (PS, photo). Black-and-white Warblers in Texas Co., OK 1 May (WBr) and Beaver Co., OK 9 May (DT, WA), and a Prothonotary Warbler in Stanton Co., KS 1 May (OS) were all westerly. A Swainson’s Warbler in Tulsa Co., OK 28 Apr (TH, MBR) was north of its expected regional range. Westerly Tennessee Warblers included 3 Nebraska panhandle reports 13–24 May (TL, D&MW, JN), one in Cimarron Co., OK 10 May (JW, NV), and 2 in Comanche Co. 12 May (L&MT, DA). A Nashville Warbler in Sheridan Co., NE 8 May was also westerly. A Virginia’s Warbler, a regional rarity, was in Cimarron Co. 5 May (AS).
The rare Connecticut Warbler was more frequent than usual, with 6 reports in all: 4 in eastern Nebraska 16–23 May (fide WRS), and 2 in Kansas, singles in Douglas Co. 17 May (MRo) and Johnson Co. 21 May (JWi). More westerly warbler reports included Mourning Warblers in Kimball Co., NE 15 May (SM), Morton Co., KS 13 & 17 May (MN, AM, JMi), and Comanche Co., OK 12 May (L&MT, DA). Common Yellowthroats in Douglas Co., KS 6 Mar (MZ, MPI) and Sumner Co., KS 25 Mar (FSQ) likely wintered. This season saw more extralimital Hooded Warbler reports; 4 from Nebraska 16–25 May (fide WRS) and a surprising 8 in Oklahoma 23 Apr–28 May (fide JAG). The furthest west were in Buffalo Co., NE 25 May (KM), Sedgwick Co., KS 2 May (fide CO), and Oklahoma Co., OK 26–28 May (BM, GH, CMo). An American Redstart in Beckham Co., OK 12 May (MM) was westerly. Cape May Warblers, normally rare, were relatively widespread this season: 6 were in eastern Nebraska, and at least 10 were in eastern Kansas, including one early in Douglas Co., KS 28 Apr (TK). The more westerly reports were in Clay Co., NE 7 May (SBr, JGJ), and Morton Co., KS 16 May (AM, JMi, AMi, MMi). Cerulean Warblers were found in Dixon Co., NE 24 May (BFH, m.ob., photo) and Wagoner Co., OK 23 May (RHa). Westerly Northern Parulas were in Kimball Co., NE 15 May (SM), Hooker Co., NE 22 May (DS), and Hamilton Co., KS 10 May (JC); one in Cherokee Co., KS 28 Mar (JRa) was early.
Magnolia Warblers showed well–9 were reported in Oklahoma 24 Apr–21 May (fide JAG) –and a westerly report came from Morton Co., KS 16 May (AM, JMi, AMi, MMi). In Sarpy and Lancaster Cos., NE, there was a notable fallout 22–23 May with 6–7 reported at each of 4 locations, and as many as 15 estimated at another (fide WRS); this was roughly a week after the peak in Oklahoma (JAG). Bay-breasted Warblers were also prominent during May with individuals westerly to Sheridan Co., NE 25 May (D&MW), Ford Co., KS 3 May (CMM), and Comanche Co., OK 12 May (L&MT, DA). Further westerly warblers were Blackburnian Warblers in Webster Co., NE 21 May (MP), Hamilton Co., KS 10 May (JC), Alfalfa Co., OK 9 May (LC), and Oklahoma Co., OK 17 May (JH); and Chestnut-sided Warblers in Sioux Co., NE 28 May (SM), Hamilton Co., KS 17 May (AM, AMi, JMi, MMi), and Comanche Co., OK 12 May (L&MT, DA). Perhaps the most outstanding showing of an eastern warbler species this season was Blackpoll Warbler: they were seen across the region in perhaps 10 times the expected numbers from late April (fide WRS, CO, JAG). An early Palm Warbler was in Washington Co., NE 11 Apr (AW), and westerly birds were in Cleveland Co., OK 23 Apr (JTp) and Woodward Co., OK 3 May (AS). Northerly Pine Warblers were in Johnson Co., KS 10 Mar (EB) and Shawnee Co., KS 11 Mar (MPl). A Yellow-throated Warbler in Jefferson Co., NE 13 May (SP) was westerly, as was a Prairie Warbler in Cowley Co., KS 25 Apr (DSe). Black-throated Gray Warbler is a sought-after regional rarity; a female was in Cimarron Co., OK 15 May (JAG). Westerly Black-throated Green Warblers were in Beaver Co., OK 4 May (WBr), and in Morton Co., KS 9 May (WA, DT). Canada Warbler was present in good numbers in Nebraska; about 27 individuals were reported (fide WRS), twice the previous best spring tally.
Tanagers through Painted Bunting
A Hepatic Tanager in Cimarron Co., OK 13–27 May (SMe et al.), an Oklahoma rarity, was in an area where the species has been found twice previously, suggesting possible nesting. (JAG). A Summer Tanager in Douglas Co., NE 22 Apr (JWH, RH; photo) and a Western Tanager in Banner Co. 2 May (TL, KMD) were very early; another Summer Tanager in Scotts Bluff Co., NE 21 May (KMD, TL) was westerly. Westerly Scarlet Tanagers were in Perkins Co., NE 21–23 May (MN), Brown Co., NE 29 May (JCo), and Alfalfa Co., OK 12 May (LL). A surprising number of Western Tanagers were easterly; individuals in Douglas Co., NE 14–15 May (JR, m.ob.), Sarpy Co., NE 13 May (MC, BW, KH), Harvey Co., KS 11 May (CS), McClain Co., OK 30 Apr (LM) and Oklahoma Co., OK 19 Apr (BM) were all noteworthy. Northern Cardinal continues to push west regionally, mostly along major river valleys. Outside these riparian birds were reports from Cimarron Co., OK (JAG), and from Sheridan Co., NE 20 Mar (D&MW) and Hooker Co., NE 21 May (DS). Westerly Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were conspicuous: there were 6 Nebraska panhandle reports 11–21 May (fide WRS), 7 in western Kansas counties 3–17 May (fide CO), and 4 Oklahoma panhandle reports 3–7 May (fide JAG). Generally, Rose-breasted Grosbeak showed well in Oklahoma this season, with a report of 11 visiting a feeder in Mayes Co. 13 May (CW). Easterly Black-headed Grosbeaks included at least 6 reports from the 3 states’ eastern counties 27 Apr–31 May (fide WRS, CO, JAG). Lazuli Buntings in the eastern region may have decreased in Oklahoma, but eastern Nebraska had 11 reports 2–25 May (fide WRS). An Indigo Bunting in Douglas Co., KS 4 Mar (CCG) was exceptionally early, with more typical early dates coming from Le Flore Co., OK 8 Apr (BL), Cherokee Co., OK 10 Apr (MLu), and Cleveland Co., OK 11 Apr (DG). A westerly Indigo Bunting was in Cimarron Co., OK 8 May (TMi). Out-of-range Painted Buntings included a bright green individual, likely a 2nd-year male, in Nemaha Co., NE 15 May (GPe), a female in Ellis Co., KS 4 May (MA), and 1–3 in Cimarron Co., OK 24–28 May (CR, LM).
Report processed by Alison Világ, 30 Dec 2020.