December 2013

Not one but for two weekend ice storms arrived in central Oklahoma and sent birds and waterfowl searching for food in a frozen world. How would this frigid weather affect the Christmas Bird Counts, both counters and birds? Would all the birds leave the state for warmer weather?

Late Reports: A Common Poorwill was reported on October 31st. On November 11 Mary and Lou Truex birded Lincoln County and added over 15 new species to the county list. On November 28 at Couch Park in Stillwater John Couch photographed a flycatcher he found hanging around the base of a large eastern red cedar. From the photos David Arbor and others identified it as a Cordilleran Flycatcher aka Western Flycatcher. On the 29th Terri Underhill and Bala Chennupati explored the Purina Fields in Edmond and flushed Smith’s Longspurs; on the 30th Kristi Hendricks was surprised to locate three Loggerhead Shrikes in the Amber area and Calvin Rees located Harris’s Sparrow in Lincoln County.

On December 1st John Hurd located a Merlin and a Lesser Black-backed Gull at Lake Hefner. Joe Grzybowski made it down to South Jenkins in Norman and discovered a surprise Ferruginous Hawk, Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroats and Marsh Wren. In Midwest City, Jimmy Woodard had a Brewer’s Blackbird. On the 2nd at Lake Hefner’s Prairie Dog Point Bill Diffin spotted an adult Thayer’s Gull. On the 5th Elton Williams reports Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Ducks and Canvasback on Cypress Lake in Norman. Then the hail and sleet started and stayed several days.

On the 6th Christie Stoops added Common Merganser to the Logan County list. On the 7th John Polo spotted a small flock of Rusty Blackbirds in Babcock Park in Stillwater. On the 8th Jimmy went around Lake Stanley Draper and reported Wood Duck and Eastern Towhee; near Yukon Jack Hurd photographed a Loggerhead Shrike with a Sedge Wren; Jennifer Kidney had an American Tree Sparrow in her Norman yard; and T K had Rusty Blackbirds at Lake Thunderbird’s Little River Marina.

In Kingfisher County on the 10th John Hurd discovered Lapland Longspur and Barred Owl. In Canadian County near Lake Overholser’s north side Larry Mays had a Winter Wren. On the 11th Joe and Vic Fazio visited Lake Hefner and saw a Red-throated Loon and Great Egret. Lake Overholser was largely frozen but had a few open patches collecting waterfowl and gulls. Bill Diffin checked out Jim Bates’ report of a Thayer’s Gull at Crystal Lake and discovered 2 of them plus a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Matt Jung walked Prairie Dog Point and discovered a Wilson’s Snipe and Solitary Sandpiper.

On the 12th Larry Mays had an Eastern Towhee and Hermit Thrush at Lake Louis Burtschi in Grady County; a Ross’s Goose on Purcell Lake and a Ferruginous Hawk and Bald Eagle at the Lindsay Prairie Dog Town in McClain County. On the 14th during the Oklahoma City CBC Patti and Brian Muzny discovered a Ferruginous Hawk. On the 15th Larry Mays discovered a Greater White-fronted Goose and Lapland Longspurs at Lake Hefner. On the 16th at Lake Hefner, John Hurd had a Black-crowned Night Heron. On the 17th Joe Grzybowski felt that there was a strong possibility that he had a Kumlien’s (Iceland) Gull Lake Hefner; Chad Ellis caught a glimpse of an Evening Grosbeak at Lake Hefner’s marina; and David McNeely saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch at his feeder.

On the 20th it started raining, turned cold in the evening and by morning of the 21st all the vegetation was covered in beautiful ice unless you were a bird looking for food. On the 21st Jim Bates was at the corner of Portland and SW 89th Street around 1630 watching several Northern Harriers floating above the frozen grass, when he looked up and saw 6 Short-eared Owls taking over the night shift. On the 24th Susan Thompson located a Pine Warbler south of the Shawnee Reservoir. Jimmy birded Seminole County and added 12 species including a Golden Eagle, and in Pottawatomie County a Bald Eagle, and Cackling Goose.

On the 26th Jim Arterburn and Ken Williams photographed a Little Gull among the Bonaparte’s Gulls off Prairie Dog Point. Earlier with Joe they identified Red-throated and Pacific Loons, an adult Thayer’s Gull and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Bill Adams reported the Lewis’s Woodpecker continues to be seen at the campground at Taylor’s Lake. On the 28th Tim O’Connell saw a Prairie Falcon and Le Conte’s Sparrow at Lake Carl Blackwell. On the 29th Andrea Green reported a winter female Long-tailed Duck on the west side of Lake Overholser. At the Cleveland County CBC Joe found another Little Gull and Melynda’s team added Vesper Sparrow. On the 31st in McClain County Jimmy noticed a Black Vulture.

For December 142 bird species were reported and with the late reports 7 new species were added which brought the 2013 year’s total to 285 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.