December 2012

Christmas Bird Counts and Storms

Winter arrived with a Christmas storm, Christmas Bird Counts and lots of birds for birders to locate. While the drought continues and lake levels are at an all time low, many ducks were found on small subdivision ponds making identification easier. Several unusual species were located, but because they were also seen at least once earlier in the year, they are marked by italic.

On December 1st along South Jenkins Lindell Dillon saw a lone mature Bald Eagle, an Osprey, Cedar Waxwings and a Red-breasted Nuthatch. On the 2nd Matt Jung walked the east side of Lake Overholser and located a Brown Creeper, Spotted Towhee and near the lake were Snow and Crackling Geese. On the 4th Jane Boren and Marilyn Bradford spied two Black Vultures perched on the pole beside Alameda Street near the twin bridges area of Lake Thunderbird.

On the 6th Jason Shaw reported Le Conte’s Sparrows at the USAO Habitat Area just west of the University of Arts and Science in Chickasha. Meanwhile at Lake Carl Blackwell Alex James was walking back to his car when a flock of Red Crossbills fell out of the sky into the pine trees in front of him. On the 7th a Louisiana Birder observed Forester’s Tern and Lapland Longspurs along Prairie Dog Point on Lake Hefner. On the 8th Jeff T stopped by Lake Hefner and discovered Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Mergansers, Common Loons, Horned Grebes, and a Belted Kingfisher.

On the 9th Jim Bates noticed that a Sharp-shinned Hawk had stopped in his yard and then flew over the fence to a large evergreen bush looking for a nice sparrow breakfast. He also had an Eastern Screech Owl appearing irregularly in the evening; plus at a small cattail marsh, a Common Yellowthroat and in a damp ditch a couple of Wilson’s Snipe. On the 10th a friend of James Ingold spotted an albino Red-tailed Hawk on I-40 eastbound between mile markers 215 and 216. On the 11th John Shackford estimated there were 100+ Smith’s Longspurs at the Purina Plant field in Edmond, and on the 13th John Polo found a Rough-legged Hawk in Logan County.

On the 15th John Polo photographed a Glaucous Gull on Boomer Lake in Stillwater and Torre Hovick witnessed a flock of Brewer’s Blackbirds in Stillwater. Meanwhile in Oklahoma City the Christmas Bird Count was being conducted. At New Church west of North Britton Road and NW Highway Patti and Brian Muzny caught sight of a single Townsend’s Solitaire feeding in red cedar junipers and hackberry trees. A nearby creek had a Great Egret and pair of Wilson’s Snipe. Terri Underhill and Brett Bartek flushed a Short-eared Owl. Other unusual species on the CBC included Ross’s Goose, Red-throated Loon, Ferruginous Hawk, American Avocet, American Woodcock, Horned Lark and during the week the Lesser Black-backed Gull.

On the 18th Matt birded the SH-66 bridge and located a Hairy Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwings, Fox Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrow. On the 20th Jim Bates walked a field north of Crystal Lake to flush sparrows and noticed a single bird with white sides on the tail which turned out to be a Vesper Sparrow. On the 21st Dala Grissom went out by the Shawnee Lakes and saw about 40 American White Pelicans, at least 100 Double-crested Cormorants and gulls. On the 22nd Jim flushed a Hermit Thrush at the Lake Overholser dam above 10th Street.

A snow storm arrived on the 24th giving central Oklahoma a rare white Christmas; however, not enough moisture was received to affect the drought. On the 25th Hollis Price had Pine Siskins and Fox Sparrows at her feeder in Jones. On the 29th Matty and Benjamin Hack discovered a Prairie Falcon on Highway 177 in Payne County.

On the 30th the Cleveland County Christmas Bird Count was conducted in Norman and surrounding area. Interesting birds seen included Turkey and Black Vultures, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Wild Turkey, Greater Roadrunner, Red-headed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, and Vesper Sparrow. This made a great ending for a great birding year.
During December 140 bird species were reported with 2 new species which brought the 2012 year’s total to 278 species in the Central Oklahoma area. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds and can be contacted by e-mail at Esther M. Key, Editor.