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Biodiversity – Birds

From eastern oak woodlands to western pine forests , Nebraska is home to more than 400 species of birds, including more than 200 breeding species. Situated between wintering areas to the south and wintering areas to the north, Nebraska is a critically important stopover and staging area, primarily during spring migration, for millions of waterfowl, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds and half a million Sandhill Cranes. Nebraska also provides important habitat for the six threatened or endangered species listed below.

Selected species of conservation interest

Bald eagle

Once rare and at-risk, bald eagles now nest throughout the state and also concentrate at key sites during winter. Find out more information about bald eagles status in Nebraska and when and where to watch bald eagles.
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Whooping crane

Whooping cranes are one of the rarest species on the planet. The only remaining self-sustaining population of whooping cranes migrates through Nebraska every spring and fall. If you’ve spotted a whooping crane, please contact us and if you are interested in viewing whooping cranes, review our tips and protocol.

Sandhill Cranes

Nearly half a million sandhill cranes stage in Nebraska’s central Platte River valley from mid-February through mid-April each year. Visit our crane viewing page for tips on taking in this natural wonder.
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Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine falcons are birds of the sky and open spaces. In natural settings, peregrine falcons nest on sheer cliff faces. Since tall building and other human structures resemble cliffs, peregrine falcons have adapted to and now nest on these artificial structures. The species’ adaptation to buildings and other structures hastened the species’ recovery and has allowed this species to nest in Nebraska. Peregrine falcons are not known to have nested in Nebraska, historically.
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Piping plovers and interior least terns

These two imperiled species often nest together on river sandbars, sand and gravel mines, lakeshore housing developments and reservoir shorelines. Piping plovers are state and federally listed as threatened, and interior least terns are state and federally listed as endangered. Since these two species often nest in close proximity to humans, their management is as much about people as it is about birds. Learn more through our tern and plover conservation partnership with UNL.

Major issues and threats

Habitat loss

Habitat loss and change is the most pressing challenge confronting many at-risk bird species. Find out more information about how habitat has changed and what we are doing about it.
Conservation challenges
Nebraska Natural Legacy Project

Wind and energy development

Birds may be vulnerable to impacts from wind and energy development. Visit the UNL Wind and Wildlife page to find out our role in guiding and informing sensible energy development in Nebraska.

Diseases

Wild birds, like all wildlife, are susceptible to certain diseases and in some instances these diseases may have implications for people. Avian influenza and West Nile Virus are just two diseases you may have questions about.
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Bird resources

Nebraska Bird Library

The Nebraska Bird Library website is devoted to helping Nebraskans and visitors identify and learn about the more than 400 species of birds that can be found in our state.
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Project Beak

Project Beak is an interactive, web-based curriculum that contains scientifically accurate information about avian conservation, avian form, function and other adaptations that help birds survive, Nebraska’s unique avian biodiversity, Nebraska’s threatened and endangered birds, plus video clips, interactive games, quizzes and diagrams, additional resources and links, and classroom lesson plans.
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Nongame Bird Blog

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, among many other species. Nebraska Game and Parks nongame bird program manager Joel Jorgensen shares bird sightings, birding tips and many other tales of Nebraska’s birds on this popular blog.
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Falcon Cam

View the Peregrine falcons nesting atop the Nebraska State Capitol.
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Kestrel Cam

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has an American Kestrel nest box on the north side of the headquarters building in Lincoln, Neb. Check back soon for a live video feed.

eBird

eBird has always specialized in showing bird sightings with state-of-the-art maps. As mapping services have improved, eBird has continually evolved to better serve this information. Our latest revision to the “Range and point maps” allows you to view global maps for any species or subspecies, refine the data to a specific season or date range, and then drill down to the individual sightings that make up the map.
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Nebraska Birding Trails

An online bird-watching guide for the State of Nebraska, this site has information on statewide birding locations as well as pre-planned routes for the best birding opportunities.
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