“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alma in Harlan County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Fish-Eating Birds

Fish-Eating Birds Marker image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
1. Fish-Eating Birds Marker
Inscription. 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 waterís surface with their large bills. They scoop both water and fish in their billís pouch and then squeeze out the water. The birds feed in groups, “herding” small fish into shallower water

Fish-Eating Birds Marker image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
2. Fish-Eating Birds Marker
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.
Location. 40° 5.767′ N, 99° 21.841′ W. Marker is in Alma, Nebraska, in Harlan County. Marker is on W. South Street 0.3 miles east of U.S. 183, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 800 W. South Street, Alma NE 68920, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within walking distance of this marker. The Changing Shoreline (here, next to this marker).
Categories. AnimalsEnvironment

Fish-Eating Birds (Pelican Statue) image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
3. Fish-Eating Birds (Pelican Statue)
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 493 times since then and 54 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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