Nebraska appears to be well fitted as a home for many distinct forms of birds, just as it is for the other kinds of animal life. From our studies of these creatures for the past twenty-five years and those of about fifty other persons whose notes we have had for reference, it would appear that although a prairie state, Nebraska has an unusually large bird fauna. These notes show 415 species and subspecies as visiting the state, while there are records of 227 breeding within our borders and more than 100 winter residents. When we learn that only about 780 species are recorded for the whole of North America north of the Mexican boundary, it certainly seems astonishing that from among these we should receive so large a percentage. If, however, we take into consideration the variations in altitude above sea level, the differences in surface configuration, climate, etc., that pertain to our state, its location and the relation which it bears to the country at large, perhaps the wonderment will become less. Our southeastern corner is only about 800 feet, our western border almost 6,000 feet above tide water. The state is divided into timbered, prairie and plains regions. We lie nearly in the middle of the United States, with a high mountain chain to the west and a giant waterway along our eastern boundary. In fact in Nebraska meet eastern, western, southern, and northern faunas; while we also have a fauna of our own. We find forms belonging to low and high altitudes, to wet and dry Climates, to timbered and prairie countries, as well as to semi-desert and alkali regions.



The grebes feed chiefly upon snails and other aquatic animals, such as are found in and about their haunts. They also destroy grasshoppers and such other insects as come across their path. They cannot be set down as injurious, neither can they be termed beneficial, on account of their food-habits.

1. Æchmophorus occidentalis (Lawr.)--WESTERN GREBE.

Cut-off lake near Omaha (L. Skow); "North Platte, common migrant in spring and fall" (M. K. Barnum).

2.Colymbus holbœllii (Reinh.).--AMERICAN RED-NECKED GREBE.

Reported and taken at Alda, Nebr., rare (Bull. 2, U.S. Dept. Agr., Div. Ornith.). North America (Ridgeway)
Horned Grebe

3. Colymbus auritus Linn.--HORNED GREBE.

West Point, Nebr., common (L. Bruner); "Migratory, rare" (Taylor); "Northern hemisphere" (Goss); northern portions of northern hemisphere (Ridgeway); Cherry county--breeds (J. M. Bates); "a common breeder in alkali lakes of Cherry county, June 20-30" (I. S. Trostler).

4.Columbus nigricollis californicus (Heerm.).--AMERICAN EARED GREBE

Throughout the state, especially along larger streams and lakes (L. Bruner); "Rather abundant in Nebraska" (Aughey); "Migratory, abundant, arrive in May and September (Taylor); "Western North America, east to the Mississippi river" (Goss); east to the Mississippi valley (Ridgeway); Omaha--breeding (L. Skow); a common migrant--a few breeding in Florence and Cut-off lakes near Omaha (I. S. Trostler).

Podilymbus podiceps (Linn.)--PIED-BILLED GREBE; HELL-DIVER; DABCHICK.

Common over most of the state (L. Bruner); "Migratory, rare" (Taylor); "British Provinces southward into South America" (Goss); The whole of America (Ridgeway); Omaha--breeding (L. Skow); Gage county (F. A. Colby); "an abundant migrant and common breeder" (I. S. Trostler).


7. Urinator imber (Gunn.).--LOON

West Point, Nebr., Omaha, Nebr. (L. Bruner); not common, "Migratory, common, arrive the first of April and in September and October" (Taylor); "Norther part of the northern hemisphere" (Goss); Omaha, Rockport (L. Skow); Lincoln (Brezee); "Migrant, not rare" (I. S. Trostler).

11. Urinator lumme (Gunn.)--RED-THROATED DIVER.

Missouri river at Omaha (L. Skow); "a rare migrant, one killed on the Missouri river near Bellevue, Sept 28, 1894" (I. S. Trostler).


36. Stercorarius pomarinus (Temm.)--POMARINE JAEGER.

"Twice seen in Nebraska" (Aughey); "one shot at North Platte, Nov 11, 1895" (M. K. Barnum); "Seas and inland waters of northern portions of the northern hemisphere, south in winter to Africa, Australia, and probably South America (A. O. U. Check List.).


The gulls, on account of their long wings and powers for flight, are not confined to the sea coast, hence they reach far inland in their migrations, feeding extensively upon insects like locusts, June beetles, crickets, etc., large numbers of which they destroy. Several kinds of these birds are known to follow the plow and pick up large numbers of white-grubs and other insects that are laid bare. In early days, when grasshoppers did much harm in this state, large flocks of these birds were seen to feed upon the insects.

47. Larus marinus Linn.--GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL.

"I only saw this bird once in Nebraska, and then it was dead. Some Winnebago Indians brought one to Kakota City in May, 1871" (Aughey).

51a. Larus argentatus smithsonius Coues.--HERRING GULL.

Rockport, Nebr., West Point, Nebr.. (L. Bruner); northeastern Nebraska (Aughey); "Common during spring migration" (Taylor); "North America in general" (Goss); Omaha (L. Skow); "a rare migrant, April 15, 1894" (I. S. Trostler)

54. Larus delawarensis Ord.--RING-BILLED GULL.

Migrant spring and fall, West Point, Omaha, and Lincoln (L. Bruner); "Rather common in Nebraska" (Aughey); "Migratory, common, arrive from May till July" (Taylor); "North America at large" (Goss); Omaha (L. Skow); Cherry county--breeds (J. M. Bates); Dakota City, Wood River (D. H. Talbot)/ "not uncommon as a migrant at Omaha" (I. S. Trostler).

58. Larus articilla Linn.--LAUGHING GULL.

Alda, Nebr.(Bull, No. 2, U.S. Dept. Agric., Div. Ornith.); Omaha (L. Skow).

59. Larus franklinii Sw. & Rich.--FRANKLIN'S GULL.

West Point, Omaha, Lincoln (L. Bruner); "Large numbers here during the spring and fall migrations" (Aughey); "Migratory, abundant, arrive in April, May, September, October" (Taylor); "Interior of North America" (Goss); Omaha (L. Skow); Peru, common migrant (G. A. Coleman); Genoa (D. H. Talbot); Omaha, common migrant (I. S. Trostler).

60. Larus philadelphia (Ord.)--BONAPARTE'S GULL.

Lincoln, Nebr. (W. D. Hunter); "The whole of North America" (Goss); Lincoln, Nov 3rd (A. Eiche).

62. Xema sabinii (Sab.)--SABINE'S GULL.

"A rare visitant, south in winter to Kansas" (Goss)

64. Sterna tschegrava Lepech.--CASPIAN TERN.

Lincoln, spring 1893 (Dr. F. L. Riser).

69. Sterna forsteri Nutt,--FORSTER'S TERN.

West Point, Swan lake, Lincoln—breeds in Sand Hills (L. Bruner); "Dixon county, May, 1871" (Augbey); "Migratory, rare, arrive about the first of May" (Taylor); "North America generally" (Goss); Cherry county—breeds" (J. M. Bates); Gage county (A. Colby); Omaha, "a not uncommon migrant," "Several pairs seen in Cherry county June 20 to 30, where they probably breed" (L S. Trostler); Fairbury (Dr. M. L Eaton).

70. Sterna hirundo Linn.—COMMON TERN; SEA SWALLOW.

Lincoln, West Point (L. Bruner); "Migratory, rare, arrive about the first of May" (Taylor); "Migratory, very rare" (Goss, Birds of Kansas); Omaha (L. Skow).

71. Sterna paradisæ (Brünn).—ARTIC TERN.

"Only saw a few of these terns in Dixon county, in May, 1886" (Aughey).

74. Sterna antillarum (Less.).—LEAST TERN.

West Point, Nebr. (L. Bruner); "Rather common in Nebraska" (Aughey); "Migratory, abundant; summer resident, not uncommon" (Taylor); "North America, northward to California and New England" (Goss); Omaha—breeding (L. Skow); Peru, abundant—probably breeds (G. A. Coleman); "A few seen around Cut-off lake near Omaha during summer of 1893" (I. S. Trostler).

77. Hydrochelidon nigra surinamensis (Gmel.).—BLACK TERN.

West Point, Omaha, Lincoln, Holt county, Platte river (L. Bruner); "Breeds here" (Aughey); "Migratory, common; an summer resident, rare; arrive about the first of May and in October" (Taylor); "Temperate North America" (Goss); Beatrice (A. S. Pearse); Omaha—breeding (L. Skow); Peru, common migrant (G. A. Coleman); Cherry county—breeds (J. M. Bates); Swan lake, Holt county (D. H. Talbot); Gage county (F. A. Colby); "A common migrant and not an uncommon summer resident-breeds" (I. S. Trostler).


118. Anhinga anhinga (Linn.).—ANHINGA, SNAKE BIRD.

An accidental visitor—based on a single specimen that was shot several years ago within a few miles of Omaha and mounted by F. J. Brezee (L Bruner).


120. Phalacrocorax dilophus (Swain.).—D0UBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT.

Florence lake (J. Budd); Cut-off lake (F. J. Brezee); West Point (L. Bruner); "Perhaps passing through the state in April and November" (Taylor); "South in winter to the Gulf coast" (Goss); Omaha (L. Skow); Cherry county (J. M. Bates); "migrant, not rare" (I. S. Trostler).

120a. Phalacrocorax diophus floridanus (Aud.).—FLORIDA CORMORANT.

West Point, Omaha, Platte river, Lincoln (L. Bruner); Omaha (F. J. Brezee).

121. Phalacrocorax mexicanus (Brandt).—MEXICAN CORMORANT.

North in the interior to Kansas and southern Illinois (A. 0. U. Check List); Reported in spring from West Point, Cuming county, by a friend (L. Bruner).


125. Pelecanus erythrorhynchos Gmel. — AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN.

Numerous localities (L. Bruner); "Frequently seen in Nebraska during its migrations" (Aughey); "Migratory, abundant, arrive in April, May, October, and November" (Taylor); "Temperate North America" (Goss); Beatrice (A. S. Pearse); Omaha (L. Skow); Cherry county (J. M. Bates); Wood River (D. H. Talbot); Gage county (F. A. Colby); "migratory, not uncommon" (I. S. Trostler).

126. Pelecanus fuscus Linn.—BROWN PELICAN.

St. Paul, Nebr., Oct. 10, 1885, one male specimen (D. H. Talbot); Honey Creek lake, near Omaha, in spring, "Saw fragments of six specimens in hog-pen where they had been thrown by the man who shot them" (L. Skow).


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© 2001, Lynn Waterman