Fish-Eating Birds

Fish-Eating Birds (HMUME)

Location: Alma, NE 68920 Harlan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 5.767', W 99° 21.841'

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Large reservoirs like Harlan County Lake provide habitat for aquatic birds. Many of these birds eat fish like small gizzard shad and carp. To avoid competing for food and territory, these fish-eating birds forage in different parts of the reservoir, in different depths of water, and in different seasons.

Great Blue Heron
Great blue herons are wading birds that forage for small fish, insects, and frogs in shallow water. These herons nest in colonies or "rookeries" in trees. One such colony is located in a stand of large cottonwoods west of the highway bridge. Your best chances for viewing great blue herons at Harlan County Reservoir is in the summer, when the lake has been drawn down, and there is an abundance of shallow water for them to feed in.

Double-crested Cormorants fish by diving and chasing their prey in deepwater. Their feathers absorb water to help them dive, which is why you often see cormorants perched with outspread wings, drying them. They can be viewed here primarily in spring and fall.

White Pelicans feed by scooping fish from just below the water's surface with their large bills. They scoop both water and fish in their bill's pouch and then squeeze out the water. The birds feed in groups, "herding" small fish into shallower water where they are easily caught. Most often you will see pelicans here during the spring and fall as they migrate to and from nesting colonies farther north.

Bald Eagles are relatively abundant here in winter, feeding on fish and wintering waterfowl. Traditionally eagles here roost in trees downriver of the dam, and at sunset begin to move toward the roost. Parking at one of the pull-offs along the dam will put you in the path the eagles travel as they move to and from the roost.

Large reservoirs that do not freeze over are ideal wintering habitat for common mergansers. You can often view them in fair numbers here during December, and they are quite abundant in spring. Mergansers are classified as diving ducks, and feed mostly on fish.

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Date Added Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 at 10:00am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)14T E 468971 N 4438488
Decimal Degrees40.09611667, -99.36401667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 5.767', W 99° 21.841'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 5' 46.02" N, 99° 21' 50.46" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)308
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 801-899 W South St, Alma NE 68920, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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