April 2019

by Patti Muzny

For the past 29 years, I have mostly observed spring migration from my offices at the beautiful Oklahoma State Capitol Building. I have watched the changes in the landscape and the birds that migrate through Oklahoma City, but have not until now, been privileged to simply soak up, at my leisure, spring and spring migration from our SW OKC home and our Byars property. And what a blessing it has been!

We chose not to spray the weeds in our yard, so I’ve watched as a flock of migrating Chipping Sparrows, along with a few Clay-colored and Lincoln’s Sparrows, descended upon the plentiful dandelion seed heads and loaded their little beaks with tasty morsels as fast as possible. This was a beautiful sunny early morning after a rain the night before. Along with these feisty migrants,
was added the song of our returning Brown Thrasher, Purple Martins, Titmouse, Chickadee, Carolina and Bewick’s Wrens, Robins (who are using downspouts again to nest.)

On April 3rd, Nancy Vicars and I spent our first day of this week at Byars. On the way, we drove by Lake Purcell, where we found Greater Yellowlegs, Great Blue Heron, Blue-winged Teal, Coots, Great Egret, Cormorant, and my first Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Along the highway we saw Black and Turkey Vultures. Two goals were on our agenda: Morels and birds!

We had a great day of birding and searching for morels, but perhaps the most fun was the second trip to our Byars cabin in mid-week. Morels and birding are great, but when two of my favorite
friends can join me, it just “ramped up” the fun. Nancy Vicars and Nancy Reed and I spent April 5th hiking up and down the hills and finding a few migrants and nesting permanent residents…and MORELS!

We put on our waterproof boots and began along the creek. Morel stalking is not for sissies, at least not on our place. The most enticing mushrooms seem to grow under a tangle of greenbriers. Add in a few critter holes, downed tree limbs, honeysuckle and wild grape vines, wild plum bushes, poison ivy and poison oak, locust trees, and slippery creek banks, and the fun begins. Actually the fun is sautéing up a “batch” for culinary enjoyment! Nancy R. managed to take a slippery shortcut from the top of the creek bank and complete her journey with a muddy backside! No real harm done. Each of us tangled with a few briars and we are wearing the scratches to prove it, but the reward was a nice sack of morels. With two more good friends to peruse the ground, we find more.

As we walk through the woods with our heads down, we use our ears to bird. The creek area had singing White-eyed Vireo’s and Louisiana Waterthrushes. Brightly dressed Yellow-rumped Warblers were foraging through the woods and the ubiquitous Carolina Wrens seemed to be everywhere, as were the Tufted Titmice and Chickadees. The Black and White Warblers and Blue Gray Gnatcatchers were back as well. In checking a few bird boxes, we found Chickadees, Eastern Bluebirds and Titmice already incubating eggs. At the feeder, we added Juncos, White-throated and Lincoln’s Sparrows. Nancy V. also found a female Purple Finch in the woods. When we arrived, we flushed a Wood Duck from the pond. Our “Porch Phoebe” is once again nesting on the porch light. Total species for our day was 30.