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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.

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 »

Four days birding western Nebraska

Northern Waterthrush

I was off last Friday and Monday and took a four-day weekend birding trip to western Nebraska.  The end of August and early September is one the most exciting times to go birding because migration peaks for many species, particularly passerines (songbirds).  Once we move past early September, the number of species leaving our part of the world for warmer climes increases quickly .  Many species like orioles, kingbirds and warblers will soon be all but summer memories.  Fall migration occurs in ... Read More »

Kestrels defy odds – pull off second brood


It has been a while since I blogged about our American Kestrels and their late-season breeding attempt.  It now appears the pair is on the verge of success.  As kestrel-watchers already know, only one of the four eggs in the pair’s second clutch hatched.  The lone chick has grown quickly; the bird’s fluffy white appearance is no more.  The young female resembles an adult American Kestrel and I expect it will leave its nestbox in the next few days. As wrote in ... Read More »

Four plants for hummingbirds

Black-and-blue salvia

In my recent post about attracting hummingbirds, I briefly mentioned how incorporating certain plants into your yard will help attract hummingbirds.  I stated it was perhaps the subject of another blog post, and so it is.  Below, I list four plants that hummingbirds seem to favor based on my experience.  Their hummingbird appeal is just one factor in my determination.  I also considered ease/difficulty of growing here in Nebraska and also just my own personal preference for the plants’ aesthetic appeal.  I only consider ... Read More »