Home » Author Archives: Joel Jorgensen

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.

Searching for Nebraska Piping Plovers on the Laguna Madre

Joel Jorgensen on the Laguna Madre

Perhaps you saw Lauren Dinan’s article in Sunday’s Lincoln Journal Star about our Piping Plover color-banding project.  Maybe you also remember last year I blogged about searching for Piping Plovers on the Texas coast near Galveston that were originally banded in Nebraska by the the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership and the Nongame Bird Program.  In addition to finding one of “our” birds, I also found several Piping Plovers banded by other research groups in the northern Great Plains.  If you read ... Read More »

Eagle viewing, gulling heats up at Lake Ogallala

A Herring (left), Ring-billed (center) and Glaucous Gull at Lake Ogallala on Saturday, 10 January.

Last week our Communications staff put out this news release stating that now is a good time for eagle viewing.  It is.  A portion of my trek to twitch the Brown Pelican last Saturday included a stop at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.  The recent cold snap froze Lake McConaughy and almost all of Lake Ogallala.  However, this can be positive because limited open water will concentrate birds.  Since open water (and very importantly food) is present immediately in the spillway ... Read More »

Twitching Sutherland’s Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

On Saturday morning, my alarm sounded at 3:45 a.m. and I rose out of bed in order to take the three-hour drive to Sutherland Reservoir to “twitch” a Brown Pelican.  For non-birders, “twitching” is a British birding term meaning to chase after a previously located (usually rare) bird.  Brown Pelicans are typically found in coastal areas but birds occasionally wander inland.  The Brown Pelican I was chasing was found by Stephen J. Dinsmore and Kevin Murphy on 26 December 2014.  Nebraska’s ... Read More »

Harlan County CBC Recap

Bald Eagle

After a thirteen year hiatus and a one day postponement due to weather, the Harlan County Christmas Bird Count (CBC) took place 16 December 2014.  The CBC was held annually from 1996 to 2001.  This year, a group of ten birders tallied 77 species, which is above the average number of 73 species recorded 1996-2001.  Below, I touch upon a few highlights from the CBC. New CBC species:  Cackling Goose, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Mountain Bluebird, and Hermit ... Read More »

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 »