December 2017

Recorders Report – December 2017

A Snowy December

December was a very exciting month.  Besides interesting Christmas Bird Counts, several Snowy Owls were discovered in the state.  How many is not certain, but three were seen on one day and owls were spotted elsewhere. eBird has now confirmed two rare birds in Central Oklahoma.  On February 19th along I-40 in Seminole County John Hurd identified Golden Eagle, and on April 14 south of Lake Thunderbird Joe Grzybowski documented Golden-crowned Sparrow

On the 1st John Tharp counted Common Loon at Little River State Park, and Bill Diffin viewed Swamp Sparrow at OKC’s Crystal Lake.  On the 2nd Bob Ellis noticed Green-winged Teal on Lake Thunderbird Dam; Scott Loss spotted Great Egret and Hermit Thrush at Sanborn Lake; and Brian Stufflebeam watched Dunlin at Bethany-Warr Acres Water Treatment Plant.  On the 3rd Caleb Frome-CC located Prairie Falcon and LeConte’s Sparrow at Wiley Post Memorial Lake while Larry Mays and Emily Hjalmarson confirmed Red-breasted Nuthatch and Red Crossbill in Newcastle.  Eared Grebes were found by Brian Marra on Lake Overholser and John Moyer at Lake Thunderbird Dam.  On the 4th Robert Harding tallied Eastern Bluebird at Meeker Lake in Lincoln County.

On the 5th Caleb Frome–CC added several birds to the Kingfisher County list including Bufflehead, Wilson’s Snipe, Smith’s Longspur, Vesper Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Hairy Woodpecker and at Lake Elmer Hooded Merganser, Golden-crowned Kinglet and American Tree Sparrow.  David Hoekman had Barred Owl in the Yukon area, and Bill Diffin saw Pileated Woodpecker at Stinchcomb WMA East.  On the 8th Austin Jones turned up an Inca Dove at the Oklahoma City Zoo.  On the 9th Zach Poland observed American Pipit in Logan County, and Brian Marra encountered LeConte’s Sparrow at Bluff Creek Trails. 

On the 9th on the roof of his house Jim Gebhart discovered and photographed a Snowy Owl, and later that day another Snowy Owl was spotted on Hwy 177 by Aaron Short.  About two weeks earlier a Snowy Owl had been photographed north of Covington.  On the 10th Bill Diffin rediscovered Jim’s Snowy Owl on the dam at Lake Arcadia HQ area and several people were able to see and photograph it.  Staff at Lake Arcadia reported the Owl stayed around for several days. 

On the 11th Deanne McKinney had Eastern Screech-Owl at her OKC home; Jim Arnett verified Prairie Falcon and Clay-colored Sparrow at Regatta Park and Greenway in OKC; and Jerry Chen identified Western Meadowlark at Lake Overholser Park south of the main dam.  On the 13th in Grady County Caleb McKinney found Golden-crowned Kinglet in Ninnekah and Jimmy Woodward witnessed Green-winged Teal and Bonaparte’s Gull at Taylor Lake.  Meanwhile, around the 14th, it was rumored the media reported a Snowy Owl at Will Roger’s Airport.  On the 15th Emily Hjalmarson confirmed Barred Owl at Woodcreek Park in Norman; and Joe Grzybowski recorded Red-necked Grebe at Lake Hefner.  On the 15th Zach Poland located Pine Siskin, Cedar Waxwings, and Fox Sparrow at Lake Elmer.

On the 16th Dala Grissom added Pied-billed Grebe and American White Pelican at Shawnee in Pottawatomie County; and Robert Harding got Great Blue Heron and Double-crested Cormorant at Bell Cow Lake in Lincoln County.  According to OKC CBC compiler, Nathan Kulnert, unusual species detected were Red-necked Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Pacific Loon, American Bittern, Northern Goshawk, Inca Dove, Red Crossbills and a surprise Snowy Owl at Lake Overholser.  On the 17th Ben Sandstrom encountered Hairy Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch at Mineral Wells Park in Guthrie; and Brian Marr reported Common Yellowthroat at Lake Hefner Prairie Dog Point.  On the 19th Joe Buck recognized Spotted Sandpiper, Brown Creeper, and Orange-crowned Warbler at Arcadia Lake.  Brian Fant photographed a Snowy Owl near Caney in Atoka County in SE Oklahoma but later in the fog it was struck by a vehicle. On the 20th a Snowy Owl was found outside of Oologah in NE Oklahoma along the side of the road by Steven Martin who called Lt. Game Warden. It was taken to Wild Heart Ranch Rehab but died a few hours later from malnutrition and lice. 

On the 21st Brett and Lareina Niland verified Lapland Longspur, Brewer’s Blackbird, and Wild Turkey at Rose Lake and then they documented the continuing Snowy Owl at Lake Overholser. Roy McGraw saw Marsh Wren at Lake Overholser Coffer Dam and Red-breasted Nuthatch at Lake Arcadia; and Larry Mays recorded Brewer’s Blackbird in Jones. On the 23rd in Grady County Caleb McKinney recognized a Short-eared Owl; in Lincoln County Joe Buck discovered Barred Owl; at Rose Lake Mike Hudson identified Green-winged Teal; at Meridian Technology Center Pond Roy Zach confirmed Eared Grebe; and at the OKC Zoo Jason Shaw located Wood Duck and Black-crowned Night-Heron. 

On the 24th Jerry Chen tallied Wood Duck and White-winged Dove at McClain County’s Crystal Lake; Katrina Hucks noticed Great Egret at Lake Overholser west; and Zach DuFran saw White-breasted Nuthatch and Fox Sparrow at Lake Thunderbird Chapel.  On the 25th Susan Thompson observed Brown Creeper and Chipping Sparrow in Shawnee; and Jack Olson recognized Pine Siskins and Snow Goose in El Reno.  On the 26th Susan Thompson had Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Spotted Towhee and Fox Sparrow in Shawnee; Zach Poland reported Herring Gull at Liberty Lake in Logan County; and Rachel Wrenn discovered Greater Yellowlegs and Pileated Woodpecker at Lake Thunderbird North Sentinel.

On the 27th Nick Varvel got Cackling Goose along I-35 in Garvin County; Ben Sandstrom encountered Greater Yellowlegs and Golden-crowned Kinglet at the Dolese Sand Pit in Guthrie; Roy McGraw had White-fronted Goose at Guthrie Lake; Zach Poland observed Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Liberty Lake in Guthrie.  On the 28th Larry Mays recognized American Wigeon on the Newcastle 16th Street pond; Rachel Wrenn verified Canvasback and Common Goldeneye at Summit Lake; and Roy Zach documented American Tree Sparrow and Pine Siskin at Sanborn Wetland. Meanwhile, Paige Stevens turned up Great Horned Owl at Teal Ridge Wetland; Wilson’s Snipe at Whittenberg Park; White-throated Sparrow at The Botanic Garden at OSU, and Wood Duck at Lake Carl Blackwell. 

On the 29th Sarah Toner noticed Smith’s Longspur in Norman; and Ed and Ginny Blair detected Ruddy Duck and Rusty Blackbird at Lake Overholser.  On the 30th Tim O’Connell saw Cedar Waxwings at Cedar Isle Lake; Corey Riding observed Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser and Brown Creeper at Lake Carl Blackwell; Robert Harding found Hairy Woodpecker in Harrah; and Brian Marra spotted Cedar Waxwing at Martin Park Nature Center.  On a very bitterly cold and windy 31st at Lake Hefner Bill Diffin reported Lesser Black-backed Gull while Cleveland County had their CBC and Joe Grzybowski identified LeConte’s Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, Long-billed Dowitcher and Winter Wren.  On January 2nd Larry Butler had Will Rogers Airport Operations drive him to a grassy location between the two north/south runways where they viewed a first year male Snowy Owl.  Airport Operations said the Owl had been there “several days” and they repeatedly drove out to push him away from landing aircraft to the grassy areas between runways.  So how many Snowy Owls were in Oklahoma this year?

During December of 2017 in the Central Oklahoma area 140 species were reported with 3 new species which increased the year’s total to 281.  I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by making reports at  and I can also be contacted by e-mail at .  Esther M. Key, Editor.