Nebraska - where the American west begins.
Most people find little romance with a land that lacks large snow capped mountains and deep wooded forests. But what Nebraska does have is one of the most diverse, complex eco-systems that exists anywhere - prairie. Only remnants remain of the tall grass prairie that once covered eastern Nebraska. But as you travel west across this vast state you'll encounter mixed grass prairie that gives way to the short grass prairies of the panhandle region. These native grasses are laced with a multitude of various wildflowers all of which evolved over 12,000 years ago out of an immense inland sea. This vegetation anchors the sand dunes, which cover 25% of Nebraska, to the earth. Scattered among the dunes are prairie potholes, wetlands and meandering streams and rivers. These wet areas attract a large variety of birds, many of which nest among the prairie grasses.
The population of the state decreases as you move westward. In the sandhills fifty miles and more separate many ranch homesteads and towns are sparse. It is truly a wide-open and wild land with a beauty seen nowhere else in the world.
The State of Nebraska is ranked seventh in bird species nationally. In 1995 Forbes magazine listed Grand Island, Nebraska as the number one birding spot in the world.
You will find both eastern and western bird species in Nebraska divided at the 100th meridian. There are also two major migratory flyways in the state, which carry a multitude of migratory birds to their summer nesting grounds. To the east is the Missouri River Valley that extends up the entire state. Indian Cave State Park, DeSoto Bend and many other areas on the river are excellent preserves for migrating and nesting birds.
The upper Missouri is as natural and untouched as the day Lewis and Clark first ventured through it. From Ponca State Park in North Eastern Nebraska up river to Fort Randall Dam it is pristine and an excellent birding area. Across northern Nebraska the Niobrara River cuts through the sandhills. From towering bluffs to rolling dunes it is joined by the Snake River to the west.
If you haven't added enough birds to your life list yet, then head south from Valentine into the rugged sandhills dotted with marshes and wetlands. There you will be greeted with an abundance of both grassland and shore birds. Turn you sights south again to the Grand Island area along the great Platte River that traverses the state. This is the migratory flyway across the Great Plains, one of the most used routes for migrating birds. From the hundreds of eagles which congregate during January to the hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes that crowd the waters in March and early April, you will not be disappointed. The annual crane migration is another one of a kind event on our planet and a must for all bird enthusiasts. If you stay near the central Platte River late in April you can witness one of the last wild flocks of endangered whooping cranes resting along the Platte River before continuing their journey north.
From the fresh water and saline wetlands, to the rivers and woodlands, and especially the prairie grasslands, Nebraska is a birders paradise.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 461
As at November 2016
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
Birding Crane River: Nebraska's Platte
GR Lingle 121 pages, illus, maps. Harrier Publishing 1994
ISBN: 0964121905Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Nebraska
Their Distribution and Temporal Occurrence Roger S Sharpe, W Ross Silcock and Joel G Jorgensen 520 pages, col photos. Nebraska University Press 2001
ISBN: 0803242891Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Nebraska Breeding Bird Atlas 1984-1989
Wayne J Mollhoff 233 pages, dist maps. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission 2001
ISBN: 0962595950Buy this book from NHBS.com
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2009 [06 June] - Alex Lamoreaux
…At the park along the Platte river north of Rowe Sanctuary at the intersection of Lowell Road (10C) and Elm Island Road highlights included cliff swallow, various sandpiper species, willow flycatcher, and one of the best birds of the trip a rose-breasted grosbeak X black-headed grosbeak hybrid which I was able to get great photos of. This bird was calling from the top of a willow tree at the western side of the little park, farthest from the bridge that you can get on the trails. I wanted to see if his mate would show up to see if it was a rose-breasted or black-headed but no luck….
2016 [03 March] - Rick Wright
...Some of us were fortunate enough to see individuals of both the Loggerhead and the Northern Shrike during their brief period of overlap in Nebraska, and while Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles were already on their nesting territories, Rough-legged Hawks still hunted the snowy Sandhills, laying on fat for their long flight to the arctic. Horned Larks were already on their nests, but Slate-colored and Oregon juncos were still gorging themselves at feeders and brush piles in preparation for their own northward migration...
Places to Stay
Shepherd's Inn B&B
Enjoy a peaceful retreat to the country on this rural Nebraska farmstead. Watch the golden sun sink into the hills or gaze into the star-studded heavens without the glare of city lights. Catch the early-morning rays, listen to the birds singing or spend a lazy afternoon swinging on the lawn swing as you soak in the fresh country air…
Whispering Pines B&B
There is lots of space for strolling. If you`re a bird watcher, there are many around. The butterfly bushes attract many species and deer may be glimpsed in the evening as they browse…
Audubon Society in Nebraska
Usual list of local chapters.
Audubon Society of Omaha
Audubon Society Of Omaha Office, Heron Haven, 11809 Old Maple Road - (402)-445-4138. This list does not cover all parks and wildlife areas in the Omaha, Nebraska vicinity. It was designed by the Audubon Society of Omaha to help newcomers find some of the best birding areas with a minimum of fuss. The list is comprised of 31 of our favourite local birding areas…
Big Bend Audubon Society
P.O. Box 1575, Kearney, NE 68848
Bluebirds Across Nebraska
Over the years, land has been cleared for housing and industrial developments, shopping malls, highways, and cropland; many old trees have been cut down for firewood. Wooden fence posts that provided nesting cavities have now been replaced with metal posts. With modernization, the supply of natural nesting cavities for bluebirds and other native cavity nesters has been greatly reduced…
The Crane Trust, Inc. is a non-profit organization devoted to the protection and enhancement of habitats for whooping cranes, sandhill cranes and other migratory birds along the Big Bend Region of the Platte River Valley in Nebraska….
Nature Conservancy in Nebraska
All of the Nature Conservancy's conservation work in Nebraska is the result of partnerships. The 4,825 Conservancy members in Nebraska support conservation through their dues and donations. Corporations, private and public foundations, and public agencies provide funding and challenge grants that are essential to achieving the Conservancy's conservation mission. An array of private landowners provide in-kind contributions, donated conservation easements, and, most importantly, a willingness to share their knowledge and expertise about the places where they work and live…
Nebraska Bird Partnership
Partners representing conservation, agriculture, business, and academia are working together to create and implement a shared vision for Nebraska bird conservation.
Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center
The Center is a non-profit organization that operates year-round.We are solely supported by sponsorships, contributions, grants and program fees. We seek to tell our story to a diverse audience of all ages from Nebraska, the nation and around the world to increase awareness and apprciation of the Platte river ecosystem…
Nebraska Ornithologists Union Records Committee
At the second annual meeting of the NOU, Dr. Robert H. Wolcott, one of our founders, presented a paper titled On Migration Records and On Our Nebraska Records (Proc. NOU 2:69, 1901); which included a plea for better documentation…
Nebraska Ornithologists' Union
The Nebraska Ornithologists' Union was founded in 1899, making it one of the oldest organizations in Nebraska devoted to the natural sciences. Even though our name may sound a bit old-fashioned, the NOU is anything but an organization of stuffy old birdwatchers. From the beginning, its membership has included people of all ages with diverse backgrounds and experience in ornithology - from beginning birders to those with years of experience, from serious amateurs to professional ornithologists of international distinction. Then, as now, they share a common passion for the study of birds. Everyone who is interested in birds is welcome in NOU…
Wachiska Audubon Society
For 30 years Wachiska Audubon has accomplished a lot on behalf of birds, wildlife habitat preservation, responsible urban development and support of nature education for children and adults. Wachiska Audubon is a local chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving 17 Southeast Nebraska Counties. It is one of five such chapters in Nebraska…
Serving the Nebraska Panhandle. On February 22, 1952, a small group of people who had a great deal of curiosity about the natural world, especially birds, met in Scottsbluff. This was the first meeting of the Nature Lovers' Club. Winter meetings were held in homes of members and programs were given by members or special guests about any phase of nature or conservation. In summer, marvelous breakfasts were fixed in someone's yard or in a park and the members would then go on a field trip…
Audubon's Nebraska Crane Festival
[Formerly known as Rivers and Wildlife Celebration] Witness tens of thousands of Sandhill cranes and millions of waterfowl migrating through central Nebraska during March, culminating in a festival hosted by Audubon Nebraska to celebrate their arrival. Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival has been celebrating this wildlife phenomenon for 44 years! Join fellow enthusiasts to learn more about the cranes, waterfowl, and other bird species by attending our concurrent sessions, visiting a crane viewing blind, and participating in one of our field trips...
Nebraska Prairie Chicken Festival
The Nebraska Prairie Chicken Festival aims to celebrate prairie grouse species, the grasslands they inhabit and the culture that surrounds them....
Sandhill Crane Migration event
There are a variety of bird events throughout spring migration, all of which can be found in detail on the website…
Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The bird gallery displays over 200 resident and migratory birds seen in Nebraska and northern Kansas. It includes the largest diorama of whooping and sandhill cranes in the world…
The Willetta Lueshen Ornithological Education Center (The Bird Library)
Endowed by the estate of the late John and Willetta Lueshen, The Bird Library was organized June 19th, 1989, soon after the death of Willetta Lueshen. Willie was a friend and a teacher of the art of birding to those who gathered to join the club. Willetta was well known for for her interest in birds and nature. She taught classes on birds at North East Community College for many years and introduced hundreds to birding. The Willetta Lueshen Bird Library was founded in 1997 and is unique to Northeast Nebraska. John Lueshen of Wisner as a memorial to his late wife founded the Library…
Nebraska Birding Trails
Ask almost any American birder to associate Nebraska with a single bird species, and the likely response will be "cranes!" It is true that Nebraska’s Platte Valley annually hosts the largest concentration of sandhill cranes occurring anywhere in the world, a half-million or so, and is the most often used stopover point for whooping cranes between their wintering and breeding grounds…
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
This interactive guide to the more than 400 species of Nebraska birds features photographs, sounds and descriptions of each species appearance, habitat, range, call and more. Use this guide to identify a backyard visitor or to learn more about your favorite avian species. Choose an option below to begin your search…
Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center
The Center is a non-profit organization that operates year-round. We are solely supported by sponsorships, contributions, grants and program fees. We seek to tell our story to a diverse audience of all ages from Nebraska, the nation and around the world to increase awareness and appreciation of the Platte River ecosystem…
Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center
Audubon established Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in 1998 on the site of the former O’Brien ranch approximately 20 minutes southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. This now 808-acre tallgrass prairie nature preserve offers over three miles of walking trails, wetlands, wildflowers and grasses. In its midst more than 210 species of birds, 370 species of plants, and other wildlife dwell side-by-side with historic 19th-century wagon ruts in the lovely prairie vista….
The Iain Nicolson Audubon Center & Lillian Annette Rowe Santuary
Lesser Sandhill Cranes converge upon our area every spring. Sanctuary staff members and volunteers conduct blind trips every year during March and early April. The Iain Nicolson Audubon Center, set along the beautiful Platte River, is the second largest straw bale constructed building in the United States. This education/visitor center not only provides office space for the staff, but also has a classroom/conference room, educational displays, a viewing area of the river and much more. This multi-purpose building is available for rent for business meetings or special events…
Forums & Mailing Lists
Birds of the Platte River Valley
Characteristic breeding birds include Swainson`s hawk, greater prairie-chicken, killdeer, upland sandpiper, long-billed curlew, mourning dove, common nighthawk, horned lark, loggerhead shrike, lark sparrow, lark bunting, grasshopper sparrow, western meadowlark, and brown-headed cowbird.
Checklist - Birds of Nebraska
Chicken Dance Trail
The idea of a Web site that would encourage birders from all over the world to discover the unique birding habitats in south central Nebraska came easily to Angus Garey and Don Brockmeier. Both avid birders, they knew that Nebraska has something special to offer both the serious and the not–so –serious bird watcher…
Nebraska Bird Library
An online guide to Nebraska birds. Includes species accounts, fabulous photography, range maps, and song files…
Nebraska Metro Birding
After birding the Omaha metro area for some 30 years, I find I can locate a good variety of birds most any time of the year. Spring and fall are the peak seasons for migrating passerines - warblers, vireos, flycatchers and tanagers - through the wooded Missouri River valley. From north to south, good locations are places like Boyer Chute, Neale Woods, Hummel and Dodge Park, Fontenelle Forest and Schilling WMA. The Lincoln metro area has some excellent locations for waterfowl and gull migration around the numerous lakes of Lancaster County - Branched Oak Lake, Pawnee Lake and Holmes Lake to name a few. In addition, the Spring Creek Prairie offers good possibilities of seeing such prairie birds as Henslow's Sparrow, Dickcissel and Greater Prairie Chickens…
An interactive online curriculum for kids of all ages to learn about Nebraska birds…
Newly arrived white-fronted geese drop eagerly to the first marsh they encounter in the seemingly endless sea of tilled earth, side-slipping down through the last 200 feet of atmosphere. Snow geese march down rows of corn stubble gleaning what remains of the previous fall's harvest. Gangs of sleek drake pintails careen over the marshes, weaving and banking in tight formation behind unmated hens.
Scotts Bluff County Birding
Western Nebraska is a great place to bird. Where east meets west, we get many 'eastern' and 'western' bird species here…
Wild Bird Habitat Store
The Wild Bird Habitat Store opened its doors on October 1st, 1993 in Lincoln, Nebraska by Dave Titterington. The vision statement of WBH at that time is the same belief that remains today - The Wild Bird Habitat Store is committed to providing information so people will have a successful and rewarding backyard bird feeding program that will last a lifetime, and be expanded to future generations. WBHs belief is that when people successfully attract wildlife to their backyards, it will generate awareness for other wildlife beyond the limits of their yards, state lines, and national borders. WBHs primary interest is the conservation of nature. We strive to accomplish this through offering a variety of backyard wildlife products at competitive prices, support services on the use of those products, and education of our natural communities.
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Don Getty
Has a gallery of fine photographs taken in Nebraska…