Great Nebraska

Naturalists and Scientists

Frank H. Shoemaker

Cherry County Bird List, 1903


May 27

Thedford to Brownlee

prairie horned lark Wilson’sphalarope
wn meadowlark Bartramian sandpiper
killdeer blue-winged teal
Sennett’s nighthawk burrowing owl
yellowlegs curlew
dove mallard
grasshopper sparrow spoonbill
lark bunting widgeon
barn swallow Arkansas kingbird
kingbird long-billed marsh wren
prairie chicken red-winged blackbird
yellowthroat kingfisher
cliff swallow American bittern
wn field sparrow goldfinch
wn vesper sparrow sharp-tailed grouse
Baird’s sandpiper -31 spp.

Saw also:

prairie dog
pocket gopher
13-striped spermophile
tracks of deer (white-tailed fairly common here)

Brownlee to Kennedy

Sennett’s nighthawk wn vesper sparrow
lark bunting blue-winged teal
red-winged blackbird curlew
wn meadowlark cowbird
prairie horned lark Harris’ sparrow
kingbird sharp-tailed grouse
dove bluebird
savanna sparrow coot
Arkansas kingbird killdeer
black tern yellow-headed blackbird
grasshopper sparrow mallard
barn swallow wn lark sparrow
Bartramian sandpiper -25 spp.

We are informed that skunks are fairly common here; that 3 bobcats were killed last year; that a raccoon was taken two years ago.


May 27 – continued

Kennedy to Stilwell Ranch

mallard red-winged blackbird
American bittern Wilson’s phalarope
wn meadowlark blue-winged teal
Arkansas kingbird solitary sandpiper
dove gadwall
wn lark sparrow grasshopper sparrow
marsh hawk sharp-tailed grouse
killdeer prairie chicken
barn swallow Sennett’s nighthawk -20 spp.

About Hackberry Lake, during few minutes before dark

jacksnipe yellowthroat pied-billed grebe -3 spp.


May 27

Thedfor to Brownlee Kennedy to Stilwell Ranch

prairie horned lark horned grebe
wn meadowlark marsh hawk
killdeer solitary sandpiper
Sennett’s nighthawk gadwall
dove Hackberry, few minutes before dark
grasshopper sparrow
lark bunting jacksnipe
barn swallow pied-billed grebe
prairie chicken May 28
cliff swallow Hackberry and Dewey lakes
wn field sparrow
wn field sparrow red-headed woodpecker
Baird’s sandpiper white pelican
Wilson’s phalarope Forster’s tern
Bartramian sandpiper least bittern
blue-winged teal red-breasted merganser
burrowing owl redhead
mallard May 29
widgeon Dewey Lake
Arkansas kingbird
long-billed marsh wren Franklin’s gull
red-winged blackbird
kingfisher May 30
American bittern
goldfinch Clear Lake
sharp-tailed grouse turkey vulture

Brownlee to Kennedy black-crowned night heron

savanna sparrow spotted sandpiper
black tern pectoral sandpiper
Harris’ sparrow Trout Lake & valley
coot Virginia rail
yellow-headed blackbird swamp sparrow
western lark sparrow ring-billed gull

1903 Cherry county, Nebraska

May 28 To Dewey Lake and back to Stilwell Ranch on Hackberry
barn swallow Morning clear. Rain at 2 p m. Windy later.
wn meadowlark Nests of black tern in water 18 to 24 inches
killdeer deep, 50 feet to 50 yards from shore; noted
red-headed woodpecker sets 1/3 and 1/2 and about 12 nests completed or
kingbird building.
prairie horned lark Photographed nests with eggs, of black tern
red-winged blackbird and pied-billed grebe.
black tern Young mallards.
white pelican (3) A group of Wilson’s phalaropes.
Forster’s tern Nests observed:
Am. bittern Coot 1/2 1/3 2/5 2/9; one nest 5 deserted.
blue-winged teal Black tern – cited above.
least bittern Pied-billed grebe 1/8 1/7.
yellowthroat Yellow-headed blackbird – number of eggs
yellow-headed blackbird listed as observed: 3 2 1 2 2 4 3 2 4 3
Sennett’s nighthawk 2 4 3 2 4 4 0 0 0 2 2 2 4. Sets of 4 are
lark bunting probably complete.
coot Red-winged blackbird 3 2 and several build-
Wilson’s phalarope ing or just completed.
dove Had privilege of watching a coot on her nest
gadwell at close range.
pied-billed grebe Many dead turtles along shore. Caught one
red-breasted merganser live snapper with 12-inch shell; examined and
redhead released it.
mallard -25 spp. Saw one muskrat

Innumerable flies and bees observed about

flowers of Antennaria campestris.

Noted several of the light-colored blue racers peculiar to this area. Found a dead bullsnake with many beetles working on it. I dug out a small lycosid spider carrying a cocoon. The tunnel, straight down, was 8 inches deep, only 2 inches about water level in the sand.

May 29

Rain last night, and steadily all day; cold north wind. In the afternoon we went to Dewey Lake, and returning spent some time about the shores of Hackberry Lake; collected plankton with Birge net at various points, also flowers and cacti. Franklin’s gulls were seen at Dewey lake. Found n/5 of western meadowlark.

May 30

Clearing. Chill north wind, not strong, most of the day. We enjoyed our first fairly extended trip.

At Clear Lake
western meadowlark Clear Lake, circular and small, is one of
black tern the most alkaline of the lakes in this Cherry
killdeer county group. This is remarkable, since only
wn vesper sparrow a mile to the west, lies Hackberry Lake, with
turkeyvulture fresher water than any other.
dove Had my first, and therefore most impressive,
Forster’s tern opportunity to sense the depth of invective
yellow-headed blackbird expressed by Forster’s terns in welcoming
field sparrow visitors; never a syllable except downright
barn swallow profanity. They are lovely and graceful birds –
red-winged blackbird but, such language!
blue-winged teal Found n/4 of the killdeer, deserted for some
pied-billed grebe reason beyond knowledge. Dr. Wolcott took the
Sennett’s nighthawk set, which proved to be unincubated.
black-crowned nightheron A nest of the western vesper sparrow, with
prairie chicken very young birds, on a vegetated sand slope
pintail 50 feet above the lake level.
spotted sandpiper Barn swallows are beginning to build about
pectoral sandpiper deserted shacks, which are too common in this
Am. bittern -20 spp. county cruel to agricultural effort; each is

an emblem of human despair

Found and excavated another lycosid tunnel in sand near the shore of the lake; 8 inches deep, which is near water level.

At Willow Lake

black tern A nest of the pied-billed grebe, with 7 eggs
yellow-headed blackbird nearly nearly hatched.
Sennett’s nighthawk Here Forster’s terns again put on a show,
prairie horned lark affording me several cuss-words not before
lark bunting noted.
blue-winged teal
red-winged blackbird Across to Trout Lake
Forster’s tern
coot grasshopper sparrow Nest of wn meadowlark;
killdeer wn meadowlark 5 half-fledged young.
wn meadowlark -2 spp. Another lycosid tunnel,
barn swallow 200 feet above water, 9 inches deep.
pied-billed grebe -13 spp.

May 30 – continued

In Trout Lake valley

grasshopper sparrow Nests found:
Forster’s tern Red-winged blackbird in sequence as
red-winged blackbird found – 4 2 4 0 3 1 4.
yellow-headed blackbird Yellow-headed blackbird – 4 4.
blue-winged teal Virginia rail – 9 fresh, 7 incubated.
wn meadowlark gadwall – 9.
Sennett’s nighthawk black tern – 1.
marsh hawk Am. bittern – 4.
long-billed marsh wren Forster’s tern and pied-billed grebe also
black tern nesting, but nests not examined.
yellowthroat A nest of the American bittern with 4 eggs
black tern was just above water level, lined with fine
Virginia rail grasses.
Am. bittern Nest of gadwall also was lined with grass.
swamp sparrow The nest of the Virginia rail were lined with
gadwall coarser grasses.
pied-billed grebe We flushed a flock of 13 prairie chickens,
mallard and were able to note carefully here, as at Clear
ring-billed gull Lake earlier in the day, that the species is defi-
prairie chicken -20 spp. nitely the prairie chicken; not the sharp-tailed

grouse, which also occurs in this area.

On the way back to Stilwell’s Ranch on Hackberry Lake

Bartramian sandpiper dover
kingbird wn vesper sparrow n/5 -4 spp.

May 31

Clear; air cold; north wind.

Hackberry Lake in the morning, using a boat. No list of birds made.
A visit to the nesting colony of Forster’s terns, near the north shore, affording the following data, number of eggs recorded in sequence as found:
2 1 3 2 3 3 3 3 3 pipped 3 1 3 on old house of muskrat. Nests of rushes placed 4 to 6 inches above water; cup 1 inch deep, 5 inches across.
Black tern – 1 1; nests of similar construction and placement, shallower.
Yellowheaded blackbirds’ nests numerous.
Saw ruddy ducks on Hackberry.

Monahan’s Lake in afternoon; no bird list. Found completed nest of western lark sparrow.


May 31 June 2 – continued

Hackberry Lake At Frederick’s Peak

ruddy duck rock wren
western warbling vireo

June 1 Baltimore oriole
bronzed grackle

Big Alkali Lake June 3

eared grebe
white-rumped sandpiper At Valentine
rough-winged swallow black-and-white creeper

Simeon to Valentine Valentine to Stillwell Ranch

blue grosbeak Say’s phoebe
long-tailed chat indigo bunting
Bell’s vireo red-tailed hawk

Schlegel’s Canyon June 5

arctic towhee At Marsh Lake
long-tailed chickadee marbled godwit

Along the Niobrara green-winged teal

bluejay June 8
orchard oriole
yellowwarbler At Dewey Lake
dickcissel bobolink

At Valentine At Little Alkali

house wren
desert horned lark bluebill
western robin
bluebird(dupl) June 9
kingfisher Approaching Thedford
cuckoo sp.
black-headed grosbeak Swainson’s hawk
red-eyed vireo rough-legged hawk
chipping sparrow
brown thrasher

June 1
Rainy; cold. Started on a long trip in light wagon, with Stilwell driving. Noted at ranch, before starting:
wn vesper sparrow And on the way across fields:
wn meadowlark wn meadowlark prairie horned lark
killdeer wn vesper sparrow cliff swallow
barn swallow -4 spp. grasshopper sparrow barn swallow -7 spp.
Sennett’s nighthawk

We passed Monahan’s and Trout Lakes without stopping.
At Big Alkali Lake:

redhead western meadowlark
blue-winged teal coot
killdeer pintail
prairie horned lark black tern
eared grebe spoonbill
white-rumped sandpiper mallard
Wilson’s phalarope Franklin’s gull
rough-winged swallow yellow-headed blackbird
wn vesper sparrow grasshopper sparrow
dove Arkansas kingbird -20 spp.
Killdeer nests building, and young birds about.

At Simeon:

Bartramian sandpiper pintail turkey vultures

Simeon to Valentine:

bobwhite western field sparrow
lark bunting long-tailed chat
blue grosbeak sharp-tailed grouse
goldfinch Bell’s vireo -8 spp.

In Schlegel’s Canyon:
arctic towhee long-tailed chickadee -2 spp.

On the Niobrara: (in the rain)

bluejay arctic towhee
orchard oriole long-tailed chat
yellow warbler yellowthroat
vireo sp.? rough-winged swallow
dickcissel -9 spp.

June 2

At Valentine. Cloudy and cold.

house wren wn meadowlark wn robin
desert horned lark dove bluebird
lark bunting wn field sparrow grasshopper sparrow
Arkansas kingbird arctic towhee yellow warbler
bluejay cowbird long-tailed chat
(list continued)

June 2 – continued

At Valentine – bird list continued

yellowthroat Bell’s vireo chipping sparrow
kingbird orchard oriole brown thrasher
catbird cuckoo sp. red-winged blackbird
spotted sandpiper red-eyed vireo goldfinch
killdeer bobwhite wn lark sparrow -33 spp.

A nest of eastern kingbird building. – A nest of brown thrasher with 4 eggs. – a nest of black-headed grosbeak, 4 eggs, 20 feet up in elm over creek; nest made of dead vines, weedstems and rootlets, much like that of rose-breasted grosbeak. – A nest of yellow warbler.

At Frederick’s Peak:

rock wren blue grosbeak Sennett’s nighthawk
Bartramian sandpiper Baltimore oriole barn swallow
wn warbling vireo bronzed grackle -8 spp.

Found a nest of the mourning dove, with 2 incubated eggs.

June 3

At Valentine:

western lark sparrow long-tailed chickadee wn field sparrow
yellow-shafted flicker black-and-white creeper -5 spp.

On the drive south:

desert horned lark; nest by road, lined with grass; 3 eggs.
western lark sparrow; nest under rose bush, made of grasses, weedstems,
red-headed woodpecker (lined with rootlets and horsehair.
wn lark sparrow; a nest with 3 eggs
bank swallows: a colony
turkey vulture
rock wren
Say’s phoebe
Cliff swallow colony near Gordon
indigo bunting
red-tailed hawk, carrying a snake
Bartramian sandpiper
blue grosbeak (near Simeon)
wn vesper sparrow -13 spp.

June 4

Warm and sunny. We followed first the north shore of Hackberry, where I took photographs of a young sharp-tailed grouse. – Then we collected plankton with the Birge net, in a pond north of the lake. Afterward, we cut across to

Watt’s Lake

killdeer pied-billed grebe
black tern yellow-headed blackbird
prairie horned lark red-winged blackbrid [sic]
spoonbill gadwall
blue-winged teal coot
mallard -11 spp.

Nests found:

pied-billed grebe – 4 1 4
coot – 8
killdeer – 2 0

June 5

A lovely day, after our hectic weather

At Dewey Lake:

ring-billed gull

At Willow Lake:

We watched a red-breasted merganser flutter across it.

At Marsh Lake:

black tern Forster’s tern
red-winged blackbird yellow-headed blackbird
yellowthroat coot
Virginia rail blue-winged teal
black-crowned night heron mallard
pintail Am. bittern
long-billed marsh wren green-winged teal
Wilson’s phalarope long-tailed chat
killdeer prairie chicken
redhead -19 spp.

June 5 – continued

Nests examined:

red-winged blackbird – 4 4 1 4 4 5 4 4 4 5 0 4 yg bds
Virginia rail – 5 8
coot – 10 7 10 13 9 7 8 8
Forster’s terns nesting; nests not examined with 1 egg
blue-winged teal6; took photograph. Also found nest with young; and one
pied-billed grebe – 4 5
long-billed marsh wren – 6 2
yellow-headed blackbird
black-crowned night heron; nest not examined
Am. bittern – 2

Species to be added for June 5

ruddy duck
marbled godwit
black-crowned night heron

-making total for Marsh Lake for this date,

24 instead of 19

Also various undetermined sandpipers were seen.

June 6

At Little Alkali Lake:

horned grebe
several unidentified ducks

We were interested in the red crustaceans, almost microscopic, found there.

At Whitewater Lake:

Observations made, but data missing.

June 7

Spent the morning at Watt’s Lake; data missing.

In the afternoon we examined the area north of Clear lake. We were very much interested in the peculiar attitudes assumed by hog-nosed snakes when disturbed. – Examined many of the small land tortoises common here. –

long-billed marsh wren coot
black tern black-crowned night heron
Forster’s tern red-winged blackbird
yellow-headed blackbird -7 spp.

June 8

In the morning to Dewey Lake.

wn meadowlark Forster’s tern
mallard pied-billed grebe
bobolink Wilson’s phalarope
yellow-headed blackbird Bartramian sandpiper
red-winged blackbird blue-winged teal
lark bunting killdeer
kingbird –13 14 spp.

– – completed nest of wn vesper sparrow, no eggs.

In the afternoon

At Little Alkali:

prairie horned lark prairie chicken
Wilson’s phalarope bluebill
green-winged teal grasshopper sparrow
barn swallow blue-winged teal
Sennett’s nighthawk wn meadowlark
yellow-headed blackbird lark bunting
red-winged blackbird widgeon
sparrow hawk -15 spp.

kangaroo mice seen as we disturbed pile of dead tules.

At Dad’s Lake:

red-winged blackbird Wilson’s phalarope
wn meadowlark mallard
yellow-headed blackbird killdeer
bluebill black-crowned night heron
prairie horned lark blue-winged teal
grasshopper sparrow

In sandhills south of Dad’s Lake:

wn meadowlark grasshopper sparrow
wn vesper sparrow prairie shicken [sic] -15 spp.

salamanders – “alkali dogs” – common in shallows of alkaline water at Dad’s lake

June 9

North of Thedford: list of birds missing, except two first observed here:

Swainson’s hawk rough-legged hawk -2 spp.

Found a nest of sharp-tailed grouse with 5 eggs; set evidently not completed.

June 10

In Thedford area:

kingfisher wn meadowlark
yellow-headed blackbird yellowthroat
dove prairie horned lark
wn larksparrow Bell’s vireo
long-tailed chat killdeer
dickcissel goldfinch
bronzed grackle bank swallow
red-winged blackbird cowbird
coot bluejay
bobwhite -19 spp.

As viewed from the railroad, the sandhills seem to end at about Merna.