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Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Ellsworth, Nebraska


Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, containing nearly 46,000 acres, lies in the Panhandle of western Nebraska. Established in 1931, this hilly grassland dotted with numerous shallow lakes is part of the 12 million acre "Nebraska Sandhills".

Refuge headquarters are 28 miles north of Oshkosh and 28 miles south of Lakeside, Nebraska. Few sandhill roads are surfaced, and while travel with almost any vehicle is possible over the better roads, the side trails are traveled most safely with 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Numerous species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds find a home in this prairie area. Seeing and hearing long-billed curlews, sharp-tailed grouse, and both species of meadowlarks can make an outing in late April or early May most rewarding. Peak spring songbird migration occurs May 10-20 and the fall peak occurs in September.

The following list of 273 species of birds observed on the refuge is compiled from records beginning in 1936, with current status determined from records since 1957.


Those marked with an asterisk (*) nest or have nested on the refuge.

Those marked with a caret (^) are suspected to nest or have nested at least occasionally, but further confirmation is needed.

Habitat preference, seasonal occurrence and abundance have been coded as follows:

W - Wetlands                      Sp - March-May (3-5)
G - Grasslands                    S - June-August (6-8)
B - Brushlands                    F - September-November (9-11)
T - Trees                         W - December-February (12-2)
H - Buildings

a - abundant: common species, very numerous
c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present, but not certain to be seen
r - rare: seen only a few times during a season
o - occasional: seen at intervals of 2 to 5 years
x - accidental: has been seen once or more since refuge establishment
Numerals (1 through 12) indicate known months of occurrence. Slashes separate seasons.
The years of occurrence (one or two) for accidental species are shown in parentheses.

LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon W 5/10-11 o - o -
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Horned Grebe W 3-5/7-11 u o u - ___ Eared Grebe W 3-11* c c c - ___ Western Grebe W 4-11* c c c - ___ Pied-billed Grebe W 3-11* c c c -
PELICANS Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican W 4-11 c u c -
CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ Double-crested Cormorant W 3-11* c c c -
HERONS AND BITTERNS Sp S F W ___ Great Blue Heron W 3-11* c u c - ___ Green Heron W 5-6 o o - - ___ Little Blue Heron W 6-7 (1971) - x - - ___ Cattle Egret W 5-6/7-11 o o o - ___ Great Egret W 5-6/9 o o o - ___ Snowy Egret W 3-6/7-10 o o o - ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron W 4-11* c c c - ___ Least Bittern W 6-7 - r - - ___ American Bittern W 4-11* c c u -
IBISES Sp S F W ___ White-faced Ibis W 4-6/7-10 o o o -
WATERFOWL Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan W 2-4/11 o - o - ___ Trumpeter Swan W 1-12* r r r r ___ Canada Goose W 1-12* c c c c ___ Greater White-fronted Goose W 3-4/9-12 o - r o ___ Snow Goose W 2-4/9-11 u - u - ___ Ross' Goose W 3-4/11 o - o - ___ Mallard W 1-12* a c a o ___ American Black Duck W 8-9 (1967,1977) - x x - ___ Gadwall W 1-11* c c c - ___ Northern Pintail W 2-11* c c c - ___ Green-winged Teal W 1-11* c u c - ___ Blue-winged Teal W 3-11* a a a - ___ Cinnamon Teal W 3-11* r r o - ___ American Wigeon W 2-12* u u u o ___ Northern Shoveler W 3-11* a c a - ___ Wood Duck W 3-10^ r r r - ___ Redhead W 2-1* c u c o ___ Ring-necked Duck W 2-6/7-12 u o u o ___ Canvasback W 1-11* c u c o ___ Greater Scaup W 3-4 o - - - ___ Lesser Scaup W 2-11* c u c o ___ Common Goldeneye W 2-4/7-1 u o u o ___ Barrow's Goldeneye W 4 (1968) x - - - ___ Bufflehead W 2-6/7-12 c o c o ___ Oldsquaw W 5 (1960) x - - - ___ White-winged Scoter W 9 (1936) - - x - ___ Surf Scoter W 11 (1979) - - x - ___ Ruddy Duck W 2-11* c c c o ___ Hooded Merganser W 3-6/7-11 r o r - ___ Common Merganser W 2-4/7-1 u o u o ___ Red-breasted Merganser W 3-4/10-11 r - r -
VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture G 4-6/7-9 r o r -
HAWKS AND FALCONS Sp S F W ___ Northern Goshawk TG 4-5/9-11 r - o - ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk TBG 3-5/7-1 u o u o ___ Cooper's Hawk TG 4-5/8-11 u o u - ___ Red-tailed Hawk TG 3-12* u u u u ___ Red-shouldered Hawk TG 9 (1962) - - x - ___ Broad-winged Hawk TG 4-5/9-10 r - o - ___ Swainson's Hawk TG 4-10* u u u - ___ Rough-legged Hawk TG 10-4 u - u u ___ Ferruginous Hawk TG 3-11^ r o r - ___ Golden Eagle TG 7-6 r r r r ___ Bald Eagle TWG 1-5/10-12 r - r r ___ Northern Harrier GW 1-12* c u c o ___ Osprey TWG 5/9-10 o o r - ___ Gyrfalcon G 3/12 (1978, 1979) x - - x ___ Prairie Falcon G 7-5 r r u o ___ Peregrine Falcon GW 4-6/7-9 r o r - ___ Merlin TG 1-5/9-12 o - r r ___ American Kestrel TG 1-5/7-11 r r u o
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Sharp-tailed Grouse G 1-12* c c c c ___ Northern Bobwhite B 7-6 o o o o ___ Ring-necked Pheasant G 1-12* c c c c
CRANES AND RAILS Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane GW 3-5/9-11 r - r - ___ Virginia Rail W 4-10* c c c - ___ Sora W 4-10* c c c - ___ Black Rail W 5/7 (1978,1980) x x - - ___ American Coot W 2-11* c c c o
SHOREBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Semipalmated Plover W 4-5/7-10 o r r - ___ Piping Plover W 6 (1937) - x - - ___ Killdeer WG 3-12* a c a o ___ American Golden Plover W 5/9 o - o - ___ Black-bellied Plover W 5/8-10 r o r - ___ Common Snipe WG 4-11* u r u - ___ Long-billed Curlew GW 3-9* c c o - ___ Whimbrel W 5 (1969) x - - - ___ Upland Sandpiper GW 4-9* c c o - ___ Spotted Sandpiper W 4-5/7-9^ u u u - ___ Solitary Sandpiper W 4-5/7-9 u u r - ___ Greater Yellowlegs W 3-6/6-11 u u u - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs W 4-6/7-10 c u c - ___ Willet W 4-9* u u o - ___ Red Knot W 5 (1972+/-) x - - - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper W 3-5/7-10 u u u - ___ White-rumped Sandpiper W 5 o - - - ___ Baird's Sandpiper W 3-5/6-10 c c c - ___ Least Sandpiper W 4-5/7-10 u u u - ___ Dunlin W 8-9 - o o - ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper W 4-5/7-10 u u r - ___ Western Sandpiper W 5/7-10 o r r - ___ Sanderling W 5/9-10 r - o - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher W 4-5/7-11 c u c - ___ Stilt Sandpiper W 5/7-10 u u u - ___ Marbled Godwit W 4-5/7-9 r r o - ___ Hudsonian Godwit W 5 (1969) x - - - ___ American Avocet W 4-11* c c c - ___ Black-necked Stilt W 5/7-8 o o - - ___ Wilson's Phalarope WG 4-10* a c c - ___ Red-necked Phalarope W 4-5/7-10 c u u -
GULLS AND TERNS Sp S F W ___ Glaucous Gull W 3 (1978) x - - - ___ Herring Gull W 2-4/10-11 r - r o ___ California Gull W 5 (1969) x - - - ___ Ring-billed Gull W 2-11 c u c o ___ Franklin's Gull W 4-6/7-10 u u c - ___ Bonaparte's Gull W 4-5/10-11 r - r - ___ Sabine's Gull W 10 (1978) - - x - ___ Forster's Tern W 4-10* c c u - ___ Common Tern W 5-6/7-9 o o o - ___ Least Tern W 8 (1978) - x - - ___ Caspian Tern W 5 (1976) x - - - ___ Black Tern W 4-9* c c c -
DOVES Sp S F W ___ Mourning Dove TBG 3-11* a a c -
CUCKOOS Sp S F W ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo TB 5-9* r u r - ___ Black-billed Cuckoo TB 5-6/8^ o o - -
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Barn Owl T 2-11* r r r - ___ Eastern Screech-Owl T 4/7-10 o o o - ___ Great Horned Owl T 1-12* u u u u ___ Snowy Owl G 11-12 - - o o ___ Burrowing Owl G 3-9* u u u - ___ Long-eared Owl T 1/10-11 - - o x ___ Short-eared Owl G 1-12* u u u o ___ Northern Saw-whet Owl T 10 (1977) - - x -
GOATSUCKERS Sp S F W ___ Common Poorwill G 5/8-10 r o r - ___ Common Nighthawk GT 5-9* c c c -
HUMMINGBIRDS AND SWIFTS Sp S F W ___ Hummingbird (species?) BG 8 - o - - ___ Chimney Swift H 5-6 o o - -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher WT 3-5/6-10 r r r -
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Northern Flicker TB 1-12* u u u o ___ Red-headed Woodpecker T 5-9* u o u - ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker T 4/10-11 r - r - ___ Hairy Woodpecker T 3-5/9-2 o - o o ___ Downy Woodpecker TB 1-12* u u u u
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Eastern Kingbird TBG 5-9* c c c - ___ Western Kingbird TBG 4-9* c c c - ___ Cassin's Kingbird T 9 (1977) - - x - ___ Great Crested Flycatcher T 5/8 o o - - ___ Eastern Phoebe T 4-5/8 o o - - ___ Say's Phoebe BG 4-5/7-9^ u o u - ___ Willow Flycatcher TW 5-6/8-9 r r r - ___ Least Flycatcher T 5/7-9 c r r - ___ Western Flycatcher T 8-9 - - r - ___ Eastern Pewee T 6/7-8 - o - - ___ Western Pewee T 5-9^ u u u - ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher T 5/9 o - o -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark G 1-12* a a a a
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Violet-green Swallow T 8 (1979) - x - - ___ Tree Swallow T 4-10* r r o - ___ Bank Swallow GTW 5-6/7-9 c c c - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow TW 4-8^ u u - - ___ Barn Swallow HTW 4-10* a a a - ___ Cliff Swallow GW 4-8* u r - - ___ Purple Martin W 5-6/8 o o - -
JAYS AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Gray Jay T 5 (1958) x - - - ___ Blue Jay T 4-10* c u c - ___ Black-billed Magpie TG 1-6/7-12 o o o o ___ American Crow TG 2-5/7-12 r o r o ___ Pinon Jay T 9 (1968) - - x -
CHICKADEES Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee T 3-5/7-2 o o r o
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ White-breasted Nuthatch T 4/8-2 o o o x ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch T 5/7-11 u u u -
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper T 4-5/10-1 o - o x
WRENS Sp S F W ___ House Wren TB 4-10* u u u - ___ Marsh Wren W 4-11* a a c - ___ Rock Wren G 5/9 r - r -
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Northern Mockingbird T 4-5/8-11 r o r - ___ Gray Catbird TB 5-6/8-10 u r u - ___ Brown Thrasher TB 4-11* u u u - ___ Sage Thrasher BG 8 (1978) - x - -
THRUSHES AND KINGLETS Sp S F W ___ American Robin T 1-12* c c c u ___ Varied Thrush T 10 (1969) - - x - ___ Wood Thrush T 5-6 o - - - ___ Hermit Thrush T 4-5/9-10 r - r - ___ Swainson's Thrush T 4-6/8-10 c u u - ___ Gray-cheeked Thrush T 5 u - - - ___ Veery T 5-6/8-9 o o o - ___ Eastern Bluebird TG 3-6/7-11 o o o - ___ Mountain Bluebird B 1-3/10-11 u - u x ___ Townsend's Solitaire T 9-5 u - u r ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet T 4-5/10-11 o - r - ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet TB 3-5/9-11 u - u -
PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit WG 4/9-10 r - r -
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Bohemian Waxwing T 11-4 o - o o ___ Cedar Waxwing T 2-6/7-1 u u u o
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Northern Shrike GTB 10-3 u - u u ___ Loggerhead Shrike TB 3-9* c c c -
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling TGH 1-12* r u u r
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Bell's Vireo 5-7* r r - - ___ Solitary Vireo T 5-6/9-10 o o o - ___ Red-eyed Vireo T 5-6/8-9 r o r - ___ Philadelphia Vireo TB 5/11 (1969, 1977) x - x - ___ Warbling Vireo T 5-10* u r u -
WOOD WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Black-and-white Warbler T 4-5/8-9 o r r - ___ Worm-eating Warbler T 5 o - - - ___ Tennessee Warbler T 5/6 o x - - ___ Orange-crowned Warbler TB 4-5/9-10 u - u - ___ Northern Parula T 4-6 o x - - ___ Yellow Warbler TW 4-9* u u u - ___ Magnolia Warbler T 5/9 o - o - ___ Black-throated Blue Warbler T 9-10 - - o - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler T 4-6/8-11 c o u - ___ Townsend's Warbler T 5/8-9 o o o - ___ Black-throated Green Warbler T 5/10 x - x - (1966, 1979) ___ Blackburnian Warbler T 5 (1978) x - - - ___ Bay-breasted Warbler T 5 (1975, 1978) x - - - ___ Blackpoll Warbler T 5-6/9-10 u x r - ___ Ovenbird B 5-6/7-9 u r u - ___ Northern Waterthrush TB 5/8-9 r o o - ___ MacGillivray'e Warbler TB 5-6/9 r o o - ___ Common Yellowthroat WB 5-9* a a c - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat B 5-6/8-9 r o o - ___ Wilson's Warbler TB 4-6/8-10 u u u - ___ American Redstart T 4-6/7-9 u u u -
WEAVER FINCHES Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow H 1-12* o o o o
BLACKBIRDS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Bobolink G 4-9* c c r - ___ Eastern Meadowlark G 3-9* c c c - ___ Western Meadowlark G 1-12* a a a o ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird W 3-2* a a a x ___ Red-winged Blackbird WG 1-12* a a a c ___ Orchard Oriole T 5-8* c c - - ___ Northern Oriole T 4-9* u u o - ___ Rusty Blackbird B 5 (1969) x - - - ___ Brewer's Blackbird fB 4-5/9-11 r - r - ___ Common Grackle T 1-12* c c c o ___ Brown-headed Cowbird GBT 4-10* c c u -
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Western Tanager T 5-6/8 o o - - ___ Scarlet Tanager T 6/9 (1958,1972) - x x -
GROSBEAKS AND SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Northern Cardinal B 10-5 (1962-63, 1978) x - x x ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak T 5-6 r o - - ___ Black-headed Grosbeak T 5-6/7-8 u u - - ___ Blue Grosbeak BG 5-9* r u o - ___ Indigo Bunting BT 5 (1980) x - - - ___ Lazuli Bunting BT 5-6/8-9 u r r - ___ Dickcissel G 6-7* - r - - ___ Evening Grosbeak T 9-5 o - o o ___ Purple Finch T 3/9-11 o - o - ___ Cassin's Finch TB 7 (1979) - x - - ___ Common Redpoll BT 12-3 o - - o ___ Pine Siskin BT 7-6 o o r o ___ American Goldfinch BTG 1-12* c c c o ___ Red Crossbill T 10-11 - - o - ___ Green-tailed Towhee B 5 (1965) x - - - ___ Rufous-sided Towhee B 4-5/9-11 u - u - ___ Lark Bunting G 4-9* c c c - ___ Savannah Sparrow G 4-5/8-10^ u r u - ___ Grasshopper Sparrow G 4-9* a a a - ___ Baird's Sparrow G 5/10 (1969,1980) x - x - ___ Vesper Sparrow G 4-10* r r r - ___ Lark Sparrow GB 4-10* c c c - ___ Cassin's Sparrow GB 5 (1976) x - - - ___ Dark-eyed Junco B 9-5 u - c c ___ American Tree Sparrow BG 10-4 u - x x ___ Chipping Sparrow BT 4-6/7-10 u r r - ___ Clay-colored Sparrow B 4-5/8-10 r r r - ___ Field Sparrow BG 4-5/9 r - r - ___ Harris' Sparrow B 5/9-11 u - u - ___ White-crowned Sparrow B 4-5/9-11 c - u - ___ White-throated Sparrow B 4-6/9-11 r o r - ___ Fox Sparrow B 10-11 (1979) - - x - ___ Lincoln's Sparrow WGB 4-5/9-10 r - r - ___ Swamp Sparrow WB 4-10* u u u - ___ Song Sparrow BW 8-5 r r r r ___ McCown's Longspur G 5/10 r - r - ___ Lapland Longspur G 10-4 r - r r ___ Chestnut-collared Longspur G 3-4/9-10 u - u - ___ Snow Bunting G 12-3 o - - o

For additional information contact:
                 Refuge Manager
                 Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge
                 HC-68, Box 21
                 Ellsworth, Nebraska 69340
                 Telephone: 308/762-4893
This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1990.  Birds of Crescent Lake National 
     Wildlife Refuge.  Cabela's. Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1990.  Birds of Crescent Lake National 
     Wildlife Refuge.  Cabela's. Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern 
     Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govcrescent.htm  
     (Version 22MAY98).

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