Harry Strunk Lake offers canyon, sky and water vistas as well as miles of walking trails for wildlife viewing. On this loop you’ll also drive along the scenic Republican River basin to Red Willow Reservoir, offering a rich habitat for wildlife that draws birds that soar and many other animal species.
Rivers, rains and winds dissected and eroded the high tablelands south of the Platte River in central Nebraska to carve the rugged, scenic Loess Canyons. Here, in April, May and early June, lucky birders can see prairie chickens “dance” on their traditional breeding grounds.
A habitat mix of towering cottonwoods, brushy seed and fruit bearing perennials, moist bottomlands and moving water draws a mix of wildlife. Water birds may be spotted along the river and many species of woodland songbirds nest in the deciduous, ancient trees along the Republican.
The rainwater basins of Central Nebraska provide spring migration habitat for about 6 million snow geese and a million Canada geese as well as 5-7 million ducks, and well over a million Sandhill cranes. Nearly half the mallard population rests here before continuing north to nesting grounds.
The Republican River Valley is where you’ll find broad vistas of gently rolling hills carpeted with sage and long grass. Join us as we look for birds in virgin prairie and croplands, along the river and riparian wetlands, and on the shores of Harlan County Reservoir - Nebraska’s second largest lake.
Out beyond the great Midwestern cities, the land opens up and the pavement gives way to fields and streams, to prairie, rills and endless sky. Right in the center of North America’s central flyway, millions of birds of all shapes, sizes and species pass through this area every year. If you know where to look — and that’s the key — you can see an uncommon variety, and, if you’re dedicated, knowledgeable and lucky, you can often make unusual and interesting sightings.
We live here. We put together this site to help birders discover an area rich not only in birds, but in history and culture, with its own brand of inspiring scenery. As you travel each trail, we’ve included our own recommendations of some of the places you might like to stop, including good local restaurants (we eat there ourselves), places to stay and points of interest.
Each loop is a different terrain and habitat and encompasses a number of sites along the highway or secondary roads. An interactive map for each loop describes the sites, common birds and points of interest in the area. Just click on a link below to get started.
For those of you that are not aware, all sorts of pollinating insects are declining nationwide. Monarch butterflies, one of the most common and easily recognizable species, have decline nearly 90% over the past twenty years. Many other butterfly species, numerous bee and wasp species and other pollinators are also declining. For some species (like the Monarch) it may be tied to reduction of specific host plants (which for Monarchs is milkweeds) that their caterpillars feed and grow upon before becoming adults.
True to its name, the Burrowing Owl often nests in a hold in the ground provided by prairie dogs, coyotes or badgers. It is most active in the morning and evening, hunting for insects during the day and mammals at night. Look for it especially in the Sandsage Prairie and Loess Canyons of the Chicken Dance Trail.