Wildlife Watching

Nature’s Bounty

Interior Least Tern Chick & Unhatched Sibilings along the North Loup River

Interior Least Tern Chick

Ord’s close proximity to four lakes and rivers, along with it’s position on the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills means great wildlife watching opportunities of rare and unique species of critters.  It’s as easy as hopping in a car and traveling down one of the many area highways or gravel roads.  Here you’ll find information about what species live here, where to catch them and how to get there.

Gateway to the Sandhills
The Nebraska Sandhills are an ecologically unique geologic formation not found anywhere else in the world.  The Sandhills are the western hemisphere’s largest collection of inactive sand dunes, covered with mixed and short-grass prairie.  By being at the convergence of the Sandhills and the North Loup River Valley, the Ord area is home to a variety of unique animals and plant species in one of the last stands of surviving prairie ecosystems.

What to see
While you’re out, you will find both bird and mammal species in abundance. Keep a look out for whitetail and mule deer, bobcats, bald eagles, several Central Flyway migratory bird species, waterfowl, prairie songbirds, prairie chickens, ring-neck pheasants, bobwhite quail, coyotes, red and swift foxes, and black-footed prairie dogs to name a few.

Greater Prairie Chickens, photo by Aaron Price

Great locations to view wildlife
Our area lakes and rivers, which you can find here, provide perfect access points to catch glimpses of area wildlife.  During the winter, the North Loup River is a major flyway corridor for Canadian and snow geese, and a multitude of duck species migrating south with bald eagles in tow.  During the spring and summer, our rivers are full of prairie song and shorebirds like red wing blackbirds, orioles and great blue herons.

For instructional, guided viewing opportunities, private outfitters exist which include the Calamus Outfitters and Gracie Creek Ranch.  Each are are great locations for viewing rare bird species like prairie chickens during their leks (annual spring mating ritual).

Hummingbird, photo by Jeff Boilesen

Minimum Maintenance Roads
Another great getaway in Ord is taking a trip through the hills on our minimum maintenance roads. MMRs, as we call them, offer excellent wildlife watching opportunities along with breathtaking views of the Nebraska Sandhills. A guide to area county rounds can be found here.  Be forewarned!  4×4’s are a necessity in spring, as roads can be quite muddy from the winter thaw and spring rains.  If you get stuck, you could be walking a mile or more to find help!