Trail Ramblings: A Guest Post- Tobin Brown On The Trails

For many, a bike is a way to get out and enjoy nature, and nothing says summer more than a sunny day with the birds singing. But do you know what birds can be spotted from your bike around Lincoln? You might be surprised to learn that there are over100 species that can commonly be found in Lancaster County in the summer! Here are some species to look out for where you are out riding.

In Town

Lincoln boasts one of the best paved trail networks in the midwest and there are dozens of species that live in the thickets along the trails. Some species you may see commonly on these trails include American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, House Sparrows and more! A lot of these species are more familiar with humans and will commonly visit backyard feeders, so you may also see them in your yard.

Mopac/Jamaica Trails

The crushed limestone rail trails in Lincoln provide an ever better habitat for birds. Then denser canopies provide great nesting locations and abundance of mulberry trees and wild fruit bushes provide an enticing food source. Next time you’re on one of these trails, look for the berries on the trail and see if you can spot or hear any any birds nearby. In addition to the birds you can find in town, you may be able to spot Eastern Wood-Pewee, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatch, Indigo Bunting, or maybe even a Summer Tanager. If you’re ever out at dusk near Wilderness Park, keep your eyes peeled for an occasional Great-horned Owl.

Gravel Roads

Finally, Lincoln is known as one of the best places to ride gravel roads. If you get out on the roads in the summer, you will roll through some premier prairie habitat, home to a few different birds that you won’t see in town. Red-winged Blackbird, Dickcissel, Eastern and Western Meadowlarks (the state bird), Lark Sparrow, Eastern and Western Kingbird, Northern Bobwhite, Turkey Vultures, and Red-tailed Hawks are a few of the most common birds seen out on the roads. Also don’t forget to keep an eye out on the telephone poles for the Red-headed Woodpecker. They are often seen in an undulating flight pattern and can be identified by their white tail.

If you’re new to identification, there is a great app called Merlin ID that can help you get started. It can identify birds by their call, as well as walk you through a short set of questions to try to narrow down what you might be seeing. Even if you can’t identify them, it is always nice to be more observant and appreciate nature from a bike. Happy riding and happy birding!

Eastern Kingbird, Oak Lake

Eastern Meadowlark, Holmes Lake

Grasshopper Sparrow, SW 86th and Denton Rd.