For upwards of twenty-five years the writer has taken an interest in our birds and made notes relative to their abundance, migrations, nesting, food-habits, etc., simply for personal gratification.
About two years ago, during a conversation in which the relation of birds to horticulture incidentally arose, Professor F. W. Taylor suggested the advisability of devoting a portion of a succeeding annual report to our Nebraska birds. With this object in view both the professor and the writer broached the matter to other members of the Society. Several at once not only became interested in the matter, but suggested its early accomplishment. Our late lamented Secretary, D. U. Reed, was especially in favor of the scheme. Accordingly it was decided that my usual report as entomologist should be omitted from the present volume and its place given to one on birds.
It is on these grounds that I now present for publication some "Notes on Nebraska Birds," and it is to be hoped that they will in a measure, at least, have the desired effect, viz., the protection of our birds, which means the destruction of insect pests in proprotion as the protection reaches out. Just so soon as it was decided that this subject be treated in the present report, efforts were at once made to secure all such additional material and information as would tend towards making our knowledge as complete as possible. Correspondence with various persons interested resulted in the bringing together of notes taken by about forty separate workers located in different parts of the state.
Of course the vast amount of material thus brought together had to be assorted and arranged at odd times between working hours in the University. While the paper is not what it should be, nor even what it might have been, if coming from a different person, still it is fairly satisfactory as a basis for future work.
By referring to the catalogue on the succeeding pages it will be seen that there are 415 distinct species and subspecies listed. Of these, future more critical examination may eliminate six or seven forms. Perhaps it will also be found that at least twenty-five are only accidental visitors. To counteract these possible eliminations there will undoubtedly be several additions made when we shall be better acquainted with our bird fauna.
These notes, besides definitely extending the recorded ranges of many of our North American birds, will show that at least 227 breed within the state and that more than 100 remain within our borders during ordinary winters.
It is but just here to acknowledge all the aid that has been received from the various persons whose names will be found in succeeding pages in connection with the notes furnished by each. Without such aid these notes in their present state of completeness could not have been written. It should also be generally known that it is due to the liberal policy of the Society that so many illustrations of the birds treated accompany the paper. These illustrations were either loaned by the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History and the United States Department of Agriculture, or were redrawn and engraved from plates published in Warren’s "Birds of Pennsylvania" and from the birds themselves. The drawings were made by Nelly Zehrung and Edna Hyatt of this city, and the engraving done by Blomgren Bros. & Co. of Chicago, Ill.
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© 2001, Lynn Waterman