Medicine Creek

Oxford Park

Oxford ParkWe begin the Medicine Creek Adventure at Oxford Park in Oxford. Oxford Park is located just south of the town, on the west side of Nebraska Highway 46. With plenty of turn-of-the-century deciduous trees and winding primitive trails, it’s a big area and a good place to look for red-headed and other woodpeckers, vireos, king birds and other woodland dwellers, especially during the spring and summer.

When you’re through exploring Oxford Park, it’s time to jump back in the car and head west on U.S. 136 toward Arapahoe. At the junction with U.S. Highways 6 and 34, turn left.

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Arapahoe Sewage Lagoons

WaxwingThe Arapahoe lagoons are an excellent place to check for woodpeckers, waxwings, terns and other water fowl and shorebirds.

Once you get into Arapahoe, turn south on U.S. 283 to get to the lagoons. You’ll see the lagoons off to the west. Look for a gated road leading around to the north side of the lagoons for the best viewing spots.

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Cambridge Diversion Dam

Cambridge Diversion DamAlthough our ultimate goal today is the Medicine Creek State Recreation Area, another stop worth making along the way is the Cambridge Diversion Dam Wildlife Management Area located two miles east of Cambridge. There you’ll find some 21 acres of grassland bordering the Republican River and brushy bottomland along with some great views of the river.

The Cambridge Diversion Dam WMA is a favorite local hangout for a variety of shorebirds and wading birds, including egrets and herons in season, and it’s also a good place to look for vireos, warblers and thrashers.

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Medicine Creek State Recreation Area and Harry Strunk Lake

Harry Strunk LakeEspecially if you still have wood ducks and barn owls to check off your birding list, a trip to the Medicine Creek SRA and Harry Strunk Lake might prove particularly fruitful. Wood ducks are surprisingly common here and barn owls are known to breed in the area.

To get to Medicine Creek SRA, go west from Cambridge on U.S. 6 and 34, until you reach the junction of Harry Strunk Lake Road. Then go north seven miles to the well-marked entrance.

This is a large area, encompassing over 1,700 acres of reservoir as well as 1,200 acres of upland shrubs and sage. Throughout the Republican Valley, western meadowlarks, Nebraska's state bird, are common, but also look for the eastern meadowlark in the tallgrass prairies, and along wet meadowlands farther west.

Because there are 17 hiking trails, and a great deal of interesting and varied upland habitat, thoroughly birding the Medicine Creek SRA could take hours or days. We should also warn you that there is a park entry permit required for the State Recreation Area, but these can be purchased onsite for the day or season.

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Back in Cambridge

Cambridge Bed & BreakfastBack in Cambridge, we decide to stroll along the trails in the Cambridge Park, on Highways 6 and 34 to enjoy the colorful flower garden and sculptures. The 1.2 mile Medicine Creek walking trail crosses Medicine Creek twice and in summer attracts a wide variety of songbirds and other species.

The birds of central and western Nebraska:

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Avocet, American
Avocet, American
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Bittern, American
American Bittern.
Bittern, American
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Blackbird, Brewer's
Brewer's Blackbird
Blackbird, Brewer's
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Blackbird, Red-winged
Photo by Don Brockmeier.
Blackbird, Red-winged
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Blackbird, Rusty
Blackbird, Rusty
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Blackbird, Yellow-headed
Yellow-headed Blackbird.
Blackbird, Yellow-headed
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Bluebird, Eastern
Photo by Don Brockmeier.
Bluebird, Eastern
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Bluebird, Mountain
Bluebird, Mountain
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Bobolink
Bobolink.
Bobolink
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Bufflehead
Bufflehead Duck
Bufflehead
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Bunting, Indigo
Indigo Bunting.
Bunting, Indigo
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Bunting, Lark
Lark Bunting
Bunting, Lark
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Bunting, Painted
Bunting, Painted
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Bunting, Snow
Bunting, Snow
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Bunting,Lazuli
Lazuli Bunting.
Bunting,Lazuli
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Canvasback
Canvasback.
Canvasback
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Cardinal, Northern
Cardinal, Northern
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Catbird, Gray
Catbird, Gray
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Chat, Yellow-breasted
Chat, Yellow-breasted
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Chickadee, Black-capped
Black-capped Chickadee.
Chickadee, Black-capped
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Coot, American
American Coot.
Coot, American
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Cormorant, Double-crested
Double-crested Cormorant.
Cormorant, Double-crested
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Cowbird, Brown-headed
Cowbird, Brown-headed
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Crane, Sandhill
Sandhill Crane.
Crane, Sandhill
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Crane, Whooping
Crane, Whooping
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Creeper, Brown
Creeper, Brown
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Crossbill, Red
Crossbill, Red
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Crossbill, White-winged
Crossbill, White-winged
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Crow, American
American Crow.
Crow, American
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Cuckoo, Black-billed
Cuckoo, Black-billed
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Cuckoo, Yellow-billed
Cuckoo, Yellow-billed
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Curlew, Long-billed
Long-billed Cerlew.
Curlew, Long-billed
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Dickcissel
Dickcissel
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Dove, Eurasian Collared
Dove, Eurasian Collared
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Dove, Mourning
Photo by Don Brockmeier.
Dove, Mourning
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Dove, Rock
Rock Dove.
Dove, Rock
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Dowitcher, Long-billed
Dowitcher, Long-billed
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Dowitcher, Short-billed
Short-billed Dowitcher.
Dowitcher, Short-billed
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Duck, American Black
Duck, American Black
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Duck, Black-bellied Whistling
Duck, Black-bellied Whistling
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Duck, Gadwall
Gadwall Duck.
Duck, Gadwall
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Duck, Garganey
Duck, Garganey
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Duck, Mallard
Mallard.
Duck, Mallard
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Duck, Ring-necked
Duck, Ring-necked
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Duck, Ruddy
Duck, Ruddy
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Duck, Wood
Wood Duck.
Duck, Wood
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Dunlin
Dunlin
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Eagle, Bald
Bald Eagle. Photo courtesy of Don Brockmeier.
Eagle, Bald
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Eagle, Golden
Golden Eagle.
Eagle, Golden
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Egret, Cattle
Egret, Cattle

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