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Breeding Birds of the Platte River Valley
of Nebraska

Craig A. Faanes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Gary R. Lingle, Platte River Whooping Crane Trust

The Platte River Valley in central Nebraska is known throughout North America for its concentrations of sandhill cranes and waterfowl during spring migration. Fully three-quarters of the world's population of lesser sandhill cranes, nearly all of the Central Flyway population of greater white-fronted goose, and over one million Canada geese spend most of the period from mid-February to early April along the Platte River. The yearly spectacle makes the Platte River a birdwatcher's paradise.

The main objective of this study was to determine the numbers and kinds of bird species nesting in the area, their populations, habitat preferences, and the geographical distribution of each species across the area. Included are information about species status (including nests, fledglings, and nesting attempts), distribution, habitat use during the breeding season, the effect of habitat alteration on species distribution and abundance.

This resource should be cited as:
Faanes, Craig A. and Gary R. Lingle.  1995.  Breeding birds of the Platte River
     Valley of Nebraska.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research 
     Center Online.  http://www.npwrc.usgs.govindex.htm 
     (Version 02SEP99).


Methods and Terminology

Species Accounts (Includes maps)
Hypothetical Species

The Physical Setting
Habitats for Breeding Birds
Aquatic Habitats
Man-made Habitats
Changes in Habitat Quality
Summary of Habitat Changes
Summary of Impacts
Biogeographic Distribution of Breeding Birds
Populations of Breeding Birds



Table 1 -- Population densities (pairs/km2) and diversity of breeding species among major habitat types in the Platte River Valley.
Table 2 -- Areal extent (in ha) of various land uses by county in the Platte River Valley.
Table 3 -- Changes in area (in ha) of channel and vegetation between 1938 and 1982 at 3 locations of the Big Bend reach of the Platte River compared with 1860. Data from Currier et al. (1985)
Table 4 -- Effects of wooded vegetation encroachment on abundance and distribution of various species ofbirds breeding in the Platte River Valley.
Table 5 -- Zoogeographic distribution of breeding birds in the Platte River Valley. Data adapted from Johnsgard (1979).
Table 6 -- Differences in relative abundances among selected breeding birds in the Platte River Valley recorded on Breeding Bird Survey routes. Refer to Figure 4 for route locations.
Table 7 -- Mean breeding populations of major bird families or subfamily, 1979-80.
Table 8 -- Population estimates among the most numerous breeding bird species in the Platte River valley.

Note: The authors may be contacted at the following addresses:

     Craig Faanes
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
     Arlington, Virginia
     703-358-2161 x 5492

     Mr. Gary R. Lingle
     Univ of Nebr Cooperative Extension
     Buffalo County
     1400 E 34 St, Kearney, NE 68847-3998
     Phone: (308)236-1235
     FAX: 234-6319

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