February 2009

A Tornado and the Start of Migration

February started warm and dry with high fire danger warnings in several of the central Oklahoma counties. Then on the 9th a quiet, gentle rain fell, followed by violent tornados on the 10th. Jimmy Woodard noted a lot of movements by birds during the stormy, tornadic weather. Many flocks of blackbirds, grackles, starlings collared and rock doves, and geese were moving fast away from the approaching storms. Mostly they were flying east but some groups moved northeast or southeast, too. No movement was seen to the west, which was the direction the storms were coming from. He observed single or small numbers of blue jays, crows, morning doves, American Goldfinches, House Finch, Red-tail Hawks and a few unidentified birds also flying very fast ahead of the storms.

On the 2nd Brian Davis made a quick trip to South Jenkins and found a Sora Rail in the marshy area along the creek below the mudflat along with a muskrat, as well as, a chattery group of three Brown Creepers along the road. At Lake Hefner on the 3rd Matt Jung found the Yellow-billed Loon and all three Merganser species. On the 5th Gayle Snider reports that the OU Ornithology Class birded South Jenkins and found a Sedge Wren, White-crowned, White-throated and Harris’s sparrows, Northern Pintail, Wood Duck, and a Cackling Goose.

On the 11th at the Coffer Dam Matt Jung heard a Common Yellowthroat, on the 14th he had a White-winged Dove at his Oklahoma City feeder. On the 15th at the Norman feeder he had a Sharp-shinned Hawk cruising by, a Yellow-rumped Warbler taking a bath in the fishpond, and an Orange-crowned Warbler checking the sunflower seeds.

On the 18th Matt walked Stinchcomb Wildlife Management Area and found an Eastern Phoebe, Hermit Thrush, Spotted and Eastern Towhee, Fox and Lincoln’s Sparrow. On the 19th at Lake Hefner he noted the head feathers of the Common Loons are turning black. On the 20th Brian Davis and Dick Gunn checked South Jenkins in Norman. Dick’s dog, Libby, flushed an American Bittern, and Brian caught a glimpse of a possible pair of Lark Sparrows.

On the weekend of the 21st a coworker of Cynthia Van Den Broeke photographed a Yellow-headed Blackbird at his bird feeder in Norman. On the 23rd Matt Jung visited Rose Lake and found American White Pelicans, a Great Egret, heard a Greater Yellowlegs, and on the 25th he found two Inca Doves in his daughter’s yard in Norman.

On the 21st Patti Muzny had at least three separate male American Woodcocks doing their mating antics in McClain County near Byars. In Payne County on the 25th Paul van Els flushed them on three occasions while doing fieldwork near the Cross Timbers Experimental Range, and that evening Dwayne Elmore had at least 6 males penting within a 20 acre area and had 4 flyovers.

On the 26th Jimmy Woodward and Chris Clack from South Carolina flushed 2 Short-eared Owls at the Purina Field. At Lake Hefner they found about 75 Horned Grebes, and Matt Jung found an Eared Grebe. Meanwhile Dick Gunn reports the OU ornithology class spotted the first Blue-winged Teal.

On the 27th Jim Arterburn birded Sooner Lake and found 900 Greater Scaup and 500 Common Goldeneyes along with two White-winged Scoters, one a beautiful adult male and the other a first winter male, two Black Scoters, two immature Trumpeter Swans and 16 Short-eared owls. At Fort Reno Jimmy, Max Fuller and Chris found Rough-legged and Ferruginous Hawks, and heard a flock of Sandhill Cranes flying over the fort in the late evening.

In February 107 bird species were reported making the total reported to date for the Central Oklahoma area at 136 species. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by turning in their reports of bird species seen at home and in the field. I can be contacted by email at emkok@earthlink.net, leave a message at 405-381-9170 or mail to 4603 Pikey’s Trail, Tuttle, OK 73089. Esther M. Key, Editor.