Site Description and Ornithological Summary:
The Greater Gracie Creek Landscape is the first privately-owned site in the state to be identified as an Important Bird Area. The site is owned by four landholders and covers 48,800 acres of largely intact eastern Sandhills habitats (upland sandhills dominated by tall bunchgrasses, wet meadows, spring-fed wetlands, Gracie Creek and its riparian habitats, natural lakes, and blowouts). Combined with the adjacent lakes, marshes, cottonwood forests, and associated lowland habitats of Calamus State Recreation Area (also an IBA), this gives the area a broad array of habitats vital to a wide variety of bird species of concern.
From results of breeding bird survey routes, more than 215 bird species have been recorded. Birds of note include Greater Prairie-Chicken (more than 35 leks are estimated to occur), Upland Sandpiper, Burrowing Owl, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Bobolink. Summer observations indicate the area may harbor significant breeding densities of species such as Northern Harrier, Swainson's Hawk, Loggerhead Shrike, Bell's Vireo, Red-headed Woodpecker, Dickcissel, Lark Bunting, and Swamp Sparrow.
The four landowners have agreed to collaborate on land management practices that will sustain and improve native habitats for the benefit of birds. The area is part of a study on the breeding and nesting patterns of Greater Prairie-Chickens by biologists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
For more information, call or write Kevin Poague, Important Bird Areas Coordinator, Audubon Nebraska, P.O. Box 117, 11700 SW 100th Street, Denton, NE 68339 402-797-2301, Fax: 402-797-2304.