Birds in Nebraska

The state of Nebraska is home to a variety of bird species. It is home to more than 465 different species of birds. Birds in Nebraska range from the more common American Robin to the less common Bullock’s Oriole. Nebraska’s official bird is the Western meadowlark, which was designated as the state bird in 1929. The Western meadowlark, a familiar songbird, is seen throughout Nebraska’s four seasons.

This list of Nebraska birds contains species that have been documented in the state of Nebraska and are recognized by the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union (NOU). As of August 2021, the official list contains 465 species. 95 are classified as accidental, 19 as casual, two as extinct, and three as extirpated. In North America, four have been introduced.

This section is dedicated to assisting Nebraska residents and visitors in identifying and learning about the various bird species found throughout the state of Nebraska.

Nebraska birds of prey

Most rural Nebraskans would start with “chickenhawk,” which is a common colloquial name for practically any hawk likely to be observed around a farmyard. Or “buzzard,” which is a frequent name for the turkey vulture, a scavenger not officially classified as a hawk. Nebraska is home to 17 hawk species, two eagles, and eight owls.

These impressive-looking birds are collectively known as “raptors,” referring to their predatory abilities and strong, decurved, and pointed beaks. Because they hunt throughout the day, hawks and eagles are considered diurnal raptors, whereas most Nebraska owls are nocturnal. Some owls, like the burrowing owl, hunt during the day, while others, like the great homed owl, hunt at dusk and dawn.

As a result, raptors are likely to be active hunting at any time of day or night, and few Nebraska animals smaller than a deer or pronghorn fawn are safe from being identified and attacked by raptors.

Vultures & Eagles in Nebraska

In the Cornhusker State, winter is the greatest time to watch eagles. These magnificent birds migrate south along the waterfowl migration pathways. And, while eagles, particularly bald eagles, will hunt and eat waterfowl, they prefer fish.

We see both bald and golden eagles in Nebraska. With its white head and tail, an adult bald eagle is easily identifiable. Younger birds appear darker and more speckled. They are frequently confused with golden eagles.

Perhaps the greatest locations in Nebraska to observe eagles are the hydroelectric power stations in western Nebraska. Although the Missouri River is quite good, the best is found towards the west. Eagle viewing spots are available at Lake McConaughy and at the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s J-2 Hydro near Lexington.

Buteo Platypterus - Broad-Winged Hawk

Buteo Platypterus – Broad-Winged Hawk

Buteo platypterus, known to be a Broad-winged hawk, in the Neotropics from Mexico to southern Brazil. Some subspecies live year-round ...
Haliaeetus leucocephalus - Bald eagle in the Alaska, US

Haliaeetus Leucocephalus – Bald Eagle

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a North American raptor. With the white-tailed eagle, it is a species pair. Its ...
Accipiter cooperii - Cooper's hawk

Accipiter Cooperii – Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper's hawk, known to be Accipiter cooperii, is a medium-sized hawk found in southern Canada and Mexico. This species ...
Accipiter Striatus - Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Accipiter Striatus – Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus, is a small but large-headed hawk that breeds from southeastern Canada and Maine south to ...
Circus Hudsonius - Northern Harrier

Circus Hudsonius – Northern Harrier

Known as the northern harrier, Circus Hudsonius is a bird of prey. It breeds throughout the northern hemisphere, including Canada ...
Aquila Chrysaetos - Golden Eagle in the United States

Aquila Chrysaetos – Golden Eagle

Because of their size and activity levels, Aquila Chrysaetos or commonly known as Golden eagles are among the most frequently ...
Buteo Jamaicensis - Red-Tailed Hawk

Buteo Jamaicensis – Red-Tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis, the red-tailed hawk, breeds over much of North America, from Alaska to Panama and the West Indies. It ...

Owls in Nebraska

Owls are a subset of birds of prey that, with a few notable exceptions, are mostly nocturnal. They hunt through sight, using their huge forward-facing eyes, and by hearing, using their offset, sensitive ears. They have unique feathers on their wings that allow them to fly silently, making them apex predators known for surprise assaults.

There are nine species of owls in Nebraska, which are listed here along with their preferred habitats and the ideal times of year to observe these occasionally elusive but always awe-inspiring predators.

The Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Burrowing Owl, Snowy Owl, and Barred Owl are the nine owl species found in Nebraska.

Take a look at some of the stunning night birds that can be seen in Nebraska.

Other Birds of Prey

Backyard birds of Nebraska 

Have you ever wondered what those birds in your Nebraska backyard are? Need assistance identifying Nebraska backyard birds?

Making bird feeders and observing what comes to visit is fun, but it’s even better if you know who they are. Find out what birds visit your feeders or jump across your lawn in Nebraska.

Summertime in Nebraska brings Robins and Western Meadowlarks, while winter brings Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, and woodpeckers.

With all of its natural beauty, Nebraska is a birder’s Mecca. Technically, it’s over 465. While we lack the space to cover all of them, we can provide a solid starting point with birds grouped by seasonal spotting times as follows: Year-round occupants, Spring, Summer, and Early Fall Birds.

Baeolophus Bicolor - Tufted Titmouse in the US

Baeolophus Bicolor – Tufted Titmouse

Known as the tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor, it is a tiny songbird native to North America and a member of ...
Poecile Atricapillus - Black-Capped Chickadee

Poecile Atricapillus – Black-Capped Chickadee

Poecile atricapillus, known to be a black-capped chickadee, is a nonmigratory songbird of North America. It is a tit Paridae ...
Spizelloides Arborea - American Tree Sparrow in the United States

Spizelloides Arborea – American Tree Sparrow

Spizelloides arborea in Latin, the American tree sparrow also known as the winter sparrow, is a medium-sized New World sparrow ...
Passerculus Sandwichensis - Savannah Sparrow

Passerculus Sandwichensis – Savannah Sparrow

The Savannah sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis in Latin, is a small New World sparrow that lives in the Savannah region. It ...
Chondestes Grammacus - Lark Sparrow

Chondestes Grammacus – Lark Sparrow

A large new world sparrow, the lark sparrow or Chondestes grammacus in Latin is the only Chondestes species. They belong ...
Zonotrichia Leucophrys - White-Crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia Leucophrys – White-Crowned Sparrow

This Zonotrichia leucophrys, commonly known to be the white-crowned sparrow is a North American passerine bird in the family of ...
Spizella Passerine - Chipping Sparrow

Spizella Passerine – Chipping Sparrow

The chipping sparrow, Spizella passerina in Latin, is a New World sparrow in the Passerellidae family. The eastern and western ...
Junco Hyemalis - Dark-eyed Junco

Junco Hyemalis – Dark-Eyed Junco

Junco hyemalis, commonly know as the dark-eyed junco is a New World sparrow species in the family of Passerellidae. This ...
Pooecetes Gramineus - Vesper Sparrow in the United States

Pooecetes Gramineus – Vesper Sparrow

Known as the vesper sparrow with Latin name Pooecetes gramineus is a medium-sized New World sparrow that can be found ...
Mimus Polyglottos - Northern Mockingbird

Mimus Polyglottos – Northern Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos or commonly called the northern mockingbird is a North American mockingbird in the family of Mimidae. Northern birds ...
Toxostoma crissale - Crissal thrasher photo capture in surprise

Toxostoma Rufum – Brown Thrasher

The Toxostoma rufum or commonly known as a brown thrasher is a New World catbird and mockingbird family member. The ...
Brown Passer Domesticus - House Sparrow in the United States

Passer Domesticus – House Sparrow

The house sparrow, Passer domesticus is a species of Passeridae found worldwide. Males have brighter black, white, and brown markings ...
Icteria virens - Yellow-breasted chat.

Icteria Virens – Yellow-Breasted Chat

The yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens) is a large songbird that can be found in North America. It is the only ...
Spiza americana – Dickcissel in United States

Spiza americana – Dickcissel

The dickcissel, known in Latin to be Spiza americana is a seed-eating in the family of Cardinalidae. It breeds in ...
Passerina cyanea - Indigo bunting

Passerina Cyanea – Indigo Bunting

The indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) is a small seed-eating bird that is a member of the Cardinalidae family of passerine ...

Passerina Versicolor – Varied Bunting

The Passerina versicolor, also known as the varied bunting, is a species of songbird belonging to the Cardinalidae family, which ...

Passerina Amoena – Lazuli Bunting

The Passerina amoena or commonly called lazuli bunting is a North American songbird in the family of Cardinalidae. These birds ...

Cardinalis Cardinalis – Northern Cardinal

The Cardinalis cardinalis or commonly known as Northern Cardinal is a species of bird in the family of Cardinalidae. It ...

Piranga Ludoviciana – Western Tanager

Piranga ludoviciana, commonly known as western tanager is a medium-sized American songbird that can be found throughout the country. Formerly ...

Woodpeckers of Nebraska

Nebraska is well-known for its extensive outdoors. As a result, it is home to 13 identified species of woodpeckers, four of which are permanent residents of the state. Others have been documented to migrate at various times of the year, and spotting woodpeckers in Nebraska is rather straightforward if you know where to look.

Make sure to read all the way to the end, as we’ll discuss ways to attract woodpeckers to your yard.

Best Birdwatching Spots in Nebraska

The majority of people feel little romance in a land devoid of massive snow-capped mountains and densely forested areas. However, Nebraska does feature one of the most diverse and complex ecologies on the planet – prairie. Only traces of eastern Nebraska’s once-vast tall grass prairie survive. However, when you go west throughout this enormous state, you’ll see mixed-grass grassland that gives way to the panhandle region’s short grass prairies.

Nebraska ranks sixth in the US for bird species. In 1995, Forbes magazine ranked Grand Island, Nebraska as the world’s best birding location.

Nebraska is separated into eastern and western bird species at the 100th meridian. Additionally, the state has two important migratory flyways that transport a variety of migratory birds to their summer nesting areas. To the east, the Missouri River Valley stretches the length of the state. Indian Cave State Park, DeSoto Bend, and numerous other locations along the river serve as good bird refuges.

Make sure that if you’re in the Nebraska area, you make time to visit these birding locations. We’ve compiled a list of the top five birding locations in Nebraska.

  1. Fort Morgan State Historic Site
  2. Dauphin Island
  3. Dauphin Island – Shell Mound Park
  4. Wheeler NWR
  5. Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Other Nebraska birds

If you have encountered a bird in Nebraska that is not yet on our list or that you cannot identify yourself, we’ll be happy to identify it for you. Simply take a picture of it and upload your picture, a quick description and the U.S. state where it was found here on our bird identification page

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