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Niobrara National Scenic River Birds

A diverse array of avian life inhabits the Niobrara Valley. Five western species reach their eastern limits in the valley, while six northern oriented species reach their southern limits in the valley. The central reach of the Niobrara River is ecologically significant because it serves as an east-west avian corridor and important meeting ground, especially for forest dependent species. Hybridization of eastern and western associated species, such as indigo and lazuli buntings, yellow-shafted and red-shafted flickers, and Baltimore and Bullock's orioles are vivid testament of the biological uniqueness of the Scenic River. Outdoor enthusiaists arelikely to encounter great blue herons peering intently into the water; green herons, cormorants, and white pelicans migrating through the river valley during the spring; spotted sandpipers bobbing along sandbars; or kingfishersplunging from an overhanging branch to catch a minnow beneath the water's surface.

The Niobrara is home to several state and federally listed threatened or endangered bird species. Peregrine falcons, once an endangered species, migrate through Nebraska in late April and early May and in September and October. Falcons prey on small mammals and are found near marshes, cropland, and grasslands. Current studies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are documenting the peregrine falcon'sabundance in the Niobrara River valley. Whooping cranes migrate the valley seasonally, and the interior least tern and piping plover nest on sandbars east of the popular canoeable reach. Bald eagles are especially common in winter months fishing the river, hunting small mammals, or finding carcasses.They are also known to reside along the Niobrara in summer months.

Game birds such as wild turkey, pheasant, and sharp-tailed grouse, in addition to several waterfowl species including mallards, blue-winged teal, and Canada geese provide excellent hunting opportunities along the Niobrara River National Scenic River. Public land is available for hunting, but it is somewhat limited along the Niobrara. The majority of all hunting activities along the scenic river occur on private property. Individuals that wish to hunt on private property must be granted access by the landowner. All state hunting regulations apply on public and private property. Nebraska's hunting guide, regulations, and public access areas can be found on the link below.

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