Latin: Anthus spragueii
Red-bellied Woodpecker. Photo: Bret Rodgers/Great Backyard Bird Count
From Acadian Flycatchers to Yellow-rumped Warblers, 238 bird species have been documented at Spring Creek Prairie. As part of our mission, protecting habitat for birds is integral to everything we do at Audubon and here at the center. You can learn about and enjoy birds in many ways. SCPAC staff and volunteers offer opportunities to see and learn more about birds throughout the year. See the "Events" tab above to discover the wide variety of nature programs offered. Take time to visit the links below to learn more about the amazing birds of Nebraska's tallgrass prairie.
Audubon staff members have created a priority bird species list for SCPAC. This list will focus land management efforts for these 14 noteworthy tallgrass prairie species.
Hundreds of bird species depend on habitat at SCPAC during one or more periods of their life cycle. A select group of these birds will be prioritized in our conservation efforts for a number of reasons: their small population sizes, they have important or sizeable populations within a particular area, their small or diminishing ranges, or they are experiencing threats and declining population trends at the global, regional, or local level. Species may also be considered a priority if they hold recreational or cultural value.
Therefore, a priority species is of particular management concern since it may be threatened in terms of its long-term survival. The priority species list is intended to assist in planning efforts when conducting on-the-ground activities and developing best management practices. For instance, the priority list can help land managers identify potential land-use changes that could be made to improve priority bird habitat. It also may be used as an education tool to assist with programming, decision-making and policy work with stakeholders, and coordination with private landowners to build a more resilient and bird-friendly landscape within Nebraska.
Here are descriptions of three of our priority species, followed by three other noteworthy species of SCPAC that did not make the list, but are favorites of birders nonetheless.
Three SCPAC Priority Species
Bobolink - The male bobolink is unmistakable in the summer prairie, with its sleek, black body, yellow head patch, and white flashes of feathers. The female is much more cryptically colored, better to hide while tending her nest. Its loud, jack-in-the-box-like musical trill is a welcome song in the summer.
Henslow's Sparrow - This summer resident is easily overlooked. Its greenish-brown head and cryptially colored body blend in well with the prairie grasses. And it only gives its location away with a quiet, two-note "song".
Northern Harrier - This prairie raptor is more easily identified in flight. It swoops and flies low over the grasses as it hunts for rodents and other small animals. It also sports a white rump patch. Males (pictured) are gray with a whitish belly; female harriers have brown plumage.
Three SCPAC Noteworthy Species
Red-headed Woodpecker - This brilliantly colored woodpecker regularly nests along Spring Creek here at SCPAC. The bright red head and white and black body is on both the adult male and female. Juveniles have dark feathers on their head.
Bell's Vireo - Highly secretive, this vireo is much easier heard than seen. The dull gray/green body allows the bird to blend in perfectly with its preferred haunts of shrubs and thickets.
Willow Flycatcher - These flycatchers can be found during breeding season in shruby/woody ravines and thickets. Rather drab in appearance, they give themselves away with a "sneezy" two-note call.
* To find other great birding spots in Nebraska, go to National Audubon's "Birding in Nebraska" page.
* Spring Creek Prairie is one of 25 Important Bird Areas in the state.
* Listen to BirdNote, weekdays at 10:00 am CST on NET Radio.
* The National Audubon Society has a "Plants for Birds" effort to encourage the planting of native grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees to benefit birds.