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Author Archives: Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

A Nebraska Peregrine Falcon appears in Texas

Joel Jorgensen/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

I received an email yesterday informing me that an adult Peregrine Falcon was sighted at the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation north of Houston in The Woodlands, Texas.  Fortunately the observer, Linda Kuhn, was not only able to see that the bird was banded, but also captured photographs of the bird, including a couple of shots which show the color band.  You can see the band in the photo, below.  So who is this falcon?  Where did it come from?  When and where ... Read More »

Here they come – Christmas Bird Counts

Ferruginous Hawk

It is difficult to believe we are only a few days away from another Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season, which will be from December 14 to January 5 this year (or two years, as it may be).  This year, our state’s CBCs kickoff on Sunday when the North Platte and Branched Oak Lake-Seward CBC take place.   There will be fourteen CBCs in Nebraska this year, from Harrison to Omaha and Scottsbluff to Ponca State Park. This CBC season is exciting for ... Read More »

Snowy Owls Moving Into Nebraska?

Snowy Owl

Nebraska’s second Snowy Owl report of the season occurred today (3 December) east of Kearney.  The first report involved a bird recovered by Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery a couple weeks ago in Saunders County.  Today’s Snowy Owl was first reported by Kent Skaggs on NEbirds.  Late this afternoon, I received  an independent report, apparently of the same bird, that included photos provided by Diana Merryman.  One of her photos is provided, below. Today’s report in Nebraska prompted me to check eBird to ... Read More »

Two grouse on a road less traveled

Sharp-tailed Grouse and Greater Prairie-Chicken

Over this past weekend, I worked deer check in a cold, windy and snowy Ord.  Following my tour of duty, I headed back to Lincoln Monday morning.  Rather than taking highways, I took roads less traveled.  My decision did not involve yellow wood or trails that bent in the undergrowth, I was simply interested in seeing what birds I could find.  My expectations were tempered because Monday morning temperatures were in the single digits and a stiff wind was howling out ... Read More »

Hunting the Three-toed Woodpecker in the Pine Ridge

American Three-toed Woodpecker

Last weekend, Melissa Panella, a fellow NGPC biologist, and I took the long drive from Lincoln to East Ash Creek Canyon in the Pine Ridge, southeast of Chadron.  We were on a mission to find an American Three-toed Woodpecker.  This species is a major rarity for Nebraska and major rarities are always a source of excitement.  We hiked through the canyon for a mile or two and, as though we had inside information, we found the bird!  We were afforded some great views, ... Read More »

Please report Whooping Crane sightings

Whooping Crane identification

With four Whooping Cranes already in Texas and four more recently reported along the Platte River, it is time to remind folks to be on the lookout for Whooping Cranes in Nebraska.  Over the next several weeks the rest of the population of Whooping Cranes in the Central Flyway is expected to migrate through Nebraska.  The Nongame Bird Program leads our agency’s efforts to track these birds as they move through the state, but we rely on a great deal of ... Read More »

Bald Birds

Photo by Steve Zechmann

Northern cardinals are familiar birds found throughout most of Nebraska. But sometimes familiar species can become unfamiliar by exhibiting an odd plumage. Sometimes an explanation for such an aberration is well-known and readily available. Other times an explanation is more elusive. The entirely bald head exhibited by this northern cardinal is unusual, but not unprecedented. Birds similar to this have been observed throughout the species’ range. However, why a cardinal would lose essentially all of its head feathers at one ... Read More »

Cottonwoods – disappearing along lower Platte River?

Seedling Cottonwood trees which have colonized a lower Platte River sandbar

The sound of rustling cottonwood leaves blowing in the breeze on a summer’s day along the lower Platte River is commonplace, but will this always be the case?  Every summer since 2006 I have spent time during the summer on the lower Platte River conducting field work on Piping Plovers and Interior Least Terns.  Much of that time was spent in a kayak.  During my many treks down the river I had time to observe and ponder my surroundings.   ... Read More »

NPR features success of the TPCP

Mary Bomberger Brown and Lauren Dinan

In case you missed it, there was an excellent piece on the radio this week featuring the work of the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership (TPCP).  The TPCP works with Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers in eastern Nebraska at sand and gravel mines and lakeshore housing developments in eastern Nebraska.  Interior Least Terns are state and federally listed as endangered and Piping Plovers are state and federally listed as threatened.   One reason the radio segment is noteworthy is because ... Read More »

Peregrine Falcon after hours rescue

cornered Peregrine Falcon

I received a call after hours Friday evening from the State Patrol at the Capitol Building informing me that a Peregrine Falcon was trapped on the 14th Floor observation deck.  This is the area that is open to the public where folks can go out and view the city.  I assembled myself and made the short trek over to the Capitol.  The photos, below, explain the subsequent events. Again, ol’ 19/K was not injured and can hopefully put the episode behind ... Read More »