by Esther Key
In central Oklahoma the balmy fall weather continued for a very short time. During the morning of December 7th a 3.5 magnitude earthquake occurred just east of Jones and that evening through the following morning the first small ice storm arrived. It was only a sample of what the weather would become during this winter challenging both birds and humans.
On the 5th seven birders on an OCAS field trip to Lakes Overholser and Hefner found Lapland Longspurs, Franklin Gulls, Horned Larks, and American Pipits in a grassy field about half a mile north of Route 66 Park. At Lake Hefner they found several Black-crowned Night Herons, a Common Loon, 20 Horned Grebes, and Bonaparte’s Gulls. Over the weekend along South Jenkins Matthew Jung with occasional assistance from Dick Gunn and Libby found 49 species including about 30 Wilson’s Snipe, Brown Creeper, Winter and Marsh Wrens and a Swamp Sparrow.
On the 8th John Shackford had a male and female Purple Finch at his north Edmond home. At Stinchcomb Bill Diffin had a Great Horned Owl, Northern Pintail, and Brown Thrasher, while in Stillwater Tim O’Connell had a Rusty Blackbird at his feeder.
On the 12th Matt and Cecil Johnson saw a Rough-legged Hawk along South Jenkins. On the 13th a single Sandhill Crane was found by Ben and Angie Holt in a field on the west side of the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge, and at Lake Stanley Draper Gayl Wells found several Greater Roadrunners. On the 22nd Terri Underhill and Chris Butler trapped and banded the female Rufous Hummingbird that has been wintering at your yard.
On the 19th during the OCAS’s Christmas Bird Count John Sterling found one female Black Scoter on the west side of Lake Overholser near the fishing dock. There were 3 Western Grebes on Lake Hefner. Bob Holbrook’s crew found Smith’s Longspurs along the Oklahoma River near downtown. While Patti and Brian Muzny found Smith’s Longspurs, Lapland Longspurs and Purple Finches on the outskirts of the city.
Meanwhile Ben and Angie Holt observed a Prairie Falcon attack a mixed flock of birds at the intersection of North Piedmont and Wagoner just west of Rose Lake.
On the 23rd weather forecasters were predicting snow up to 4 -8 inches in some areas and a small possibility of a white Christmas. Kim Wiar found a purple finch at her feeder in Norman, and on Lake Overholser Jim Bates found the Black Scoter again just south of the fishing pier.
On the 24th the winter blizzard arrived. Matt and Jenny Foster had their first Fox Sparrow. Patti reported that at the height of the blizzard, the little birds were seeking shelter on her ceiling fans, lawn furniture, windowsills, all along the underside of the patio and deck and near the back door onto the patio. The snowfall finally stopped around 7:00 pm and Will Rogers Airport reported a total of 14 inches of snow.
On the 27th Mary Lane reported 19 Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret and an American White Pelican at Lake Overholser. On the 31st Ben and Angie Holt found a Lesser Black Backed Gull near the dam at Lake Hefner.
During December 119 bird species were reported making the Central Oklahoma area total for 2009 at 286 species. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by turning in reports. I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Esther M. Key, Editor.