Mississippi River Basin

Missouri RB – Nebraska Expedition

The Sandhills region is the largest sand dune area in the Western Hemisphere and is one of the largest grass-stabilized dune regions in the world. The region is mostly intact and supports a wide variety of flora and fauna. It serves as a stronghold for many species of grassland birds and plays a vital role in the Central Flyway. Ranching has proven to be the best environmental and economic use of the Sandhills. — Sandhills Region, Audubon Nebraska; Nebraska Environmental Trust; Center for Great Plains Studies

Roadside plants in Nebraska must be well-adapted to climate, soils and topography, especially since these soils are compacted and nutrient poor. Rainfall across Nebraska varies from 16” to 34” annually; and temperatures can be extreme. Roadside plants may have been deposited by wind, wildlife or a passing vehicle. The state’s Roads Department promotes native species, mixing cool- and warm-season grasses, legumes, and flowers. This increases likely germination and establishment, increased durability and permanence for stability and beauty, active growth, increased soil erosion control, lower maintenance and mowing (less costly and less CO2 emissions) and a blending with nature. The first 12 to 16 feet off the road, planted with short grasses, is mowed regularly. Taller vegetation farther back is mowed every 3–5 years. — Roadside Vegetation in Nebraska (NE Dept. of Roads)


Wild flowers

  • Gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Crown vetch (Securigera varia)
  • Giant Goldenrod-State Flower (Solidago gigantean)
  • Mexican red hat (Ratibidacoumnifera)
  • Prickly poppy (aka Prairie Poppy, Argamone polyanthemos)
  • Soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca)
  • Thistle (Silybum)
  • Wild mustard (Sinapis arvensis
  • Wine cup (domestic gone wild)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Grasses & Emergents (cool and warm season grasses)

  • Bromegrasses (Bromus)
  • Cattails (Typha latifolia)
  • Green Needlegrass (Nassella viridula)
  • Little Bluestem- State Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium)
  • Common reed (Phragmites)
  • Rye grass (Lolium)
  • Sand Bluestem (Andropogon hallii)
  • Sandbur (aka grassbur, goathead; Cenchrus spp.)


  • American Elm (Ulmus Americana)
  • Ash (Fraxinus)
  • Basswood (Tilia)
  • Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
  • Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoids)
  • Eastern red cedar (invasive; Juniperus viginiana)
  • Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
  • Juniper (Juniperus)
  • Willow (Salix)


Birds (State bird list includes 431 spp.)

  • American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
  • Bald eagle (Haliaeetus)
  • Belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
  • Brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)
  • Canada goose (Branta Canadensis)
  • Cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
  • Crow (Corvus)
  • Dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis)
  • American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
  • Eastern kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
  • Great blue heron (Ardea herodius)
  • Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous
  • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • Mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
  • Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura)
  • Northern Bobwhite (Colinus viginianus)
  • Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  • Red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
  • Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
  • Ring-necked pheasant (call only; Phasianus colchicus)
  • Sandhill crane (Grus Canadensis)
  • Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura)
  • Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
  • Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)
  • Whippoorwill (call only; Caprimulgus vociferous)
  • Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
  • Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)


  • Carp (Missouri River)


  • Beaver (Castor Canadensis)
  • Bison (Bison bison)
  • Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
  • Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
  • Ord’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii)
  • Plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)
  • Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
  • Squirrel (Sciuridae)
  • Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
  • White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Butterflies and Insects

  • American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)
  • Cabbage White (Pieris Rapae)
  • Clouded Sulpher (Colias philodice)
  • Deer fly (Chrysops)
  • Mosquito (Culicidae)
  • Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)