February 2012

Where is winter?

Even though individual bird numbers are reported down, birdwatching has been great because of the mild and pleasant winter. Although it rained several time during the month, the total was only about 1 inch; therefore, most of central Oklahoma is still in moderate drought conditions with some areas in severe drought. And then on the 11th, winter arrived with the coldest temperatures of the season followed by snow the next evening. However, so far, this winter has only had a trace of snow, which hasn’t happened since 1931-32 and 1934-35. Will the delay in winter’s arrival, delay spring migration?

On the 1st Josh Engelbert was told of a Snowy Owl spotted by a lady in Glenpool. On the 4th Alex James located a Snowy Owl on State Road 177, and Brady Surber located it on the 8th only to have it disappear. On the 2nd Cody saw 3 Clay-colored Sparrows southwest of the OSU cross-country track. On the 4th Jim Bates birded Rose Lake and observed a flock of geese in the field which included Greater White-fronted Geese and one Ross’s Goose. On the 6th Michael Bellah from Choctaw spotted a Northern Harrier on his lunch break. On the 7th Matt Jung walked Stinchcomb east and discovered two Hairy Woodpeckers as well as an active bee colony. On the 8th Brian Davis took a picture of a gull at the Oklahoma Zoo which was later identified as a California Gull. On the 9th Charlie Dillard observed an albino American Robin on the campus of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

On the 11th Matt located over 100 Chestnut-collared Longspur west of Westheimer Airport and Wilson’s Snipe near the river’s edge on the Cherry Tree Park Trail in Norman. On the 12th John Polo discovered a Winter Wren in Couch Park in Stillwater. On the 16th an impromptu field trip consisting of Valerie Bradshaw, Mary Lane, Steve Davis, Nadine Varner, and Jimmy Woodard assembled at Lake Stanley Draper for the American Woodcock display. On the 17th Torre Hovick, Dwayne Elmore, and Brady Allred saw a Snowy Owl in northeastern Oklahoma near the John Dahl WMA. And then on the 22nd a surprised Dan Dvorett advised Tim O’Connell that a Snowy Owl zoomed past him on the Stillwater OSU campus and perched briefly on top of Drummond Hall Tower. Meanwhile, Jennifer Kidney located a Hermit Thrush on South Jenkins in Norman.

On the 26th Matt found a White-throated Sparrow at Stinchcomb West. On the 27th Mark Cromwell had a single female Purple Martin at their house south of Stillwater. On the 28th Kim Wiar was surprised to see a Purple Finch in her Norman backyard, and Dick Gunn observed a single Turkey Vulture battling the wind over South Jenkins. Jo Loyd and Pat Seibert had 2 Barn Swallows about 10 miles east of Woodward on Highway 412. During the last two weeks of February Tricia Brown, had an Ovenbird visiting her woods in Norman.

In spite of the late arrival of winter, towards the end of the month the sound of migrating Killdeer and blooming hensbit and sandhill plums hint that spring is approaching. On the 29th strangely, the flocks of 100, 200, 500 blackbirds didn’t show up in my backyard near Moore for the daily argument as to whether they would eat me out of house and home or be encouraged to wander off to feed elsewhere. And for the first time this year as I stopped to buy gas I had to clean bugs off the car windshield; so will the birds of spring follow?

During February 95 species were reported with 6 new species which increased the year’s total to 141 bird species in the Central Oklahoma area. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by turning in reports and can be contacted by e-mail at emkok@earthlink.net.

Esther M. Key, Editor.