Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

May 1893. Oologist 10(5): 138-140.

The Raptores of Omaha and Vicinity.

By Charles Acey White.

Swallow-tailed Kite, Elanoides forficatus. Accidental visitor around Omaha, but more common through the country.

Marsh Hawk, Circus hudsonius. The Harrier or Mouse Hawk as more commonly called arrives here the last of March, when pairs may be seen sailing along the ground and chasing each other like children at play.

Nidification begins about the first or second week in May and if not disturbed will resort to the same old site for years.

The nest is situated on the ground near water in tall grass or on a slight hillock in a marsh, composed of coarse grasses, old weeds and sun flower stalks, if growing near. The nest is very loosely constructed and lined with coarse grass.

The eggs are greenish-white, either immaculate or faintly spotted with brown or lilac, rather oval in shape, three to six in number.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter velox. Found breeding here and north of Florence, Neb. It feeds principally on small birds.

The eggs are subject to great variation. The ground color varies from bluish-white to grayish-white, spotted, blotched, speckled and clouded with fawn color, burnt amber, chestnut, chocolate, lavender-gray and dark brown, spherical in form.

Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperi. The commonest of our Hawks, arrives in the latter part of March. It is a beautiful and daring bird and quite well known to the country people. He is not such a free-booter as some would imagine, although I will admit he loves "chicken." Like the darkey his mouth waters when he hears the cackle of a hen. He also feeds greatly on small birds, squirrels and rabbits. He may often be seen sailing along close to the ground, eagerly looking for his prey. When one is spied he quickens his flight until almost upon it. Then like an arrow he swoops down and bears it away. It is remarkable how one of these birds can sail so swiftly among the heavy timber and never strike against some tree trunk.

One day while out hunting I saw a Cooper's hovering over Florence Lake, and thinking it rather strange concluded to watch him. After twenty minutes had lapsed he slowly began to descend until within ten yards of a patch of rushes. I then arose and fired at him but missed. Just then a Mallard flew up from the spot where he was watching, but Cooper's did not give chase for he concluded to get out of gun range. I firmly believe he was watching the duck.

The nest of Cooper's is generally situated very high up, and composed of small twigs. Crows' nests are often occupied. A pair nested in the same nest two years near Scotland.

Laying commences about the second week in May, sometimes the first. The eggs are of a pale bluish or greenish-white, frequently spotted with pale brownish red. The number in a set is from four to six.

American Goshawk, Accipiter articapillus. This large and beautiful hawk is only a winter visitor to our wood.

Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo borealis. The Red-tailed Buzzard is a very common breeder in our woods. Like Cooperi it is also a lover of the barn-yard friends, but lacks the nerve of his little cousin. Here they feed principally upon squirrels, gophers, chipmunks and small birds. The remains of the rodents are generally found in the nests.

The nests are situated in very tall trees and composed of sticks, twigs and bark, lined with bark. The only feathers found in the nest are off the breast of the bird.

L. Skow took a very fine set of these eggs, April 7, 1893 near Scotland, Neb., four miles north of Omaha.

Krider's Hawk, Buteo borealis. Accidental visitor; very rare. Took a fine specimen near Florence, Neb., three miles north of Omaha.

Western Red-tail, Buteo borealis calurus. Accidental visitor; have only seen one since 1890.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus. This Hawk is largely distributed over the state and is abundant in winter. A great many call it "Chicken Hawk," but it seldom visits the barn yard. Its food is usually frogs, rats, mice and sometimes small snakes.

The nesting of the Red-shouldered is almost the same as the Red-tail, but here it seems to like small woods. The number of eggs deposited is three or four, sometimes only two. The background is bluish or yellowish-white; sometimes brownish, spotted and blotched irregularly with many shades of reddish-brown. A set in my collection is exceedingly heavily marked with dark brown.

Swainson's Hawk, Buteo swainsoni. This beautiful bird may also be classed as a common breeder here. I have never heard of this species visiting the barn yards. They feed principally upon gophers, grasshoppers, mice and large black crickets. The nests of this species are situated in trees, from 30 to 50 feet from the ground. Old nests of Hawks and Crows are also fitted up.

A set of eggs taken April 20, 1891 consisted of two. The background was of a greenish-white tint, spotted, stained and blotched with reddish-brown.

Broad-winged Hawk, Buteo latissimus. The Broad-winged Hawk is also a common breeder, but not so common as B. swainsoni. A set of two, taken May 15, 1892, answers to the following description: ground color yellowish-white, variously marked with spots, blotches and clouds of umber-brown, chestnut and fawn color. The nest was situated in a high tree, old Crow's.

Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos. Transient visitor. Not uncommon. A pair nested near here in 1884.

Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leueocephalus. Transient visitor. Rare. Of late years they have become very rare.

Prairie Falcon, Falco mexicanus. Winter visitor; not uncommon. Took a fine specimen near Hardwood Lake.

Duck Hawk, Falco peregrinus anatum. Summer visitor; not common. Took two very fine specimens near Florence Lake.

American Sparrow Hawk, Falco sparverius. This handsome little Falcon is a very common visitor to our woods, but I have never found them breeding here.

American Osprey, Pandion haliaetus carolinensis. Visitor; not uncommon. Six specimens were taken last year near Florence, Neb.

Barn Owl, Strix pratincola. Visitor; not common. Took seven specimens near East Omaha last year.

American Long-eared Owl, Asio wilsonianus. This bird is a common breeder. Its notes are like the "me-ow" of a cat, but when heard in the distance sound more like "hoo, hoo ow." The nests of this species are generally old Crow's or Hawk's, which they repair with a few sticks. The eggs are from three to six and sometimes seven in number.

Short-eared Owl, Asio accipitrinus. The Marsh or Short-eared Owl, is a common visitor.

Barred Owl, Syrnium nebulossum. This owl is found among our bottom woods near the river. They commence to breed here in the latter part of February. The nests are in hollows of trees, in old Crow's and Hawk's nests.

The eggs are two or three in number, very rarely four, globular, white.

Screech Owl, Megascops asio. I have never found a nest here but several collectors say they have taken eggs, so I will call it a summer resident; common.

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus. Gem of our Owl visitors, it is known as the "Hooter," Hoot and Cat Owl and is the largest of all Owls with ear tufts. It is a lover of the barn yard inhabitants, as well as rabbits, raccoons, weasles, minks, etc.

They commence to breed in February, and eggs are common until April. B. virginianus breeds among our deep woods near the bluffs, also on the bottom lands. Old Red-tail hawk's nests are usually occupied after being relined. The eggs are two or three in number; white in color; globular in form.

Five eggs in my collection measure 2.15x1.70, 2.18x1.73, 2.31x1.85, 2.28x1.80, 2.29x1.82.

Burrowing Owl, Speotyto enuienlaria hypogaea. Many of this species are found here but I have never taken their eggs. They breed in the state, but not here.