February 2014

Oh Spring, Where art thou


February roared in like a lion with snow storm after snow storm, but then it warmed up for the GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count) which was conducted on Valentines weekend with a really nice date night surprise.  As little green things poke the tips of their leaves out of the soil, will spring come or another freeze?  What migration surprises will arrive this month?

On January 29th at Lake Hefner Bill Diffin reported there was much more bird activity with Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneyes, Glaucous Gull, at least 2 Lesser Black Back Gulls, and Bonaparte’s Gulls.  On the 1st Joe Grzybowski poked around the Oklahoma City lakes and found a Thayer’s Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Lake Hefner and at Lake Overholser there were 2 Thayer’s Gulls, a likely swarm hybrid gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and on Morgan Road there were maybe 3,500 geese with estimations of 2,200 Cackling Geese, 800 Canada Geese, 400 Greater White-fronted, 1 Snow Goose and 2 Ross’s Geese.  Later at the airport he found 2 Ferruginous Hawks and about 20 Red-tailed Hawks.   In Seminole County Terri, Pat and Bill had two Turkey Vultures, and at River View Ranch along the Canadian River in western Canadian County John Hurd saw a small flock of Mountain Bluebirds.

On the 3rd Steve Davis and Mary drove by the airport and located 2-3 Short-eared Owls in the pre-dark overcast, and on the 4th they were surprised by 2 Black-crowned Night Herons in the trees along Lake Hefner’s water inlet.  On the 5th Scott Loss checked Boomer Lake in Stillwater and located a Swan probably the Trumpeter’s Swan seen a few weeks back.  On the 7th along Lake Hefner Bill Diffin identified a 1st winter Kumlien’s Gull.  On the 9th Mary and Lou Truex saw a Vesper Sparrow along the Cimarron River Bridge in Logan County, and Esther Key had a Wilson’s Snipe on Purcell Lake.

On the 11th Sharon Henthorn took a turn around Lake Hefner and counted 14 Great Blue Herons, and  Bill identified a 2nd winter Kumlien’s Gull.  On the 12th Matt Jung made a pass around Lake Hefner and noticed a mature Bald Eagle sitting in a tree plus two immature Bald Eagles sitting on the sheet of ice in the lake.  On the 13th Jimmy and 19 intrepid birders checked Lake Stanley Draper for woodcocks, instead they saw a Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, beautiful sunset, and gorgeous moon.  In Pottawatomie County at Wes Watkins Lake Campground Mary and Lou Truex located Common Loon.

On the 14th at Carlberg Acres in Pottawatomie County R E Carlberg identified Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and Brown Thrasher.  In Tryon in Lincoln County Nikki Lake located a Tufted Titmouse, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Fox Sparrow.  Dakota Reid spotted a Great Egret at Boomer Lake Park, and Jordan Mitchell saw an Eastern Screech-Owl in Stillwater.  Meanwhile, in Tahlequah Mia and James spent their Valentine date night watching for American Woodcocks and were rewarded by spotting a few.  The next night they saw a complete display and activity.  She loves turning in American Woodcocks on her GBBC list.

On the 15th Steve Trammell saw Pine Siskin in Meeker in Pottawatomie County; Sally Sims located a Field Sparrow in McClain County; in Grady County, Dakota Walls observed a Prairie Falcon; at Lake Hefner’s Prairie Dog Point T K spotted a Dunlin; and at Lake Carl Blackwell Eric Duell had a Winter Wren, and Tim O’Connell had a Swamp Sparrow.  On the 16th in Kingfisher County Eric Duell identified a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Harris’s Sparrow, and American Goldfinch, and at Taylor Lake Gary Binderim noted a Black Vulture.  In Payne county at Sanborn Lake Michael Hollie located Sandhill Crane; at Whittenberg Park Scott Loss had a Barn Owl and Tim O’Connell had a Horned Lark at the OSU—Cross County Course.

On the 17th James Hubbell, Dave and Bonnie McNeely located the Lewis’s Woodpecker at Taylor Lake.  In Logan County Austin Gatlin noticed 22 Wild Turkey.  On the 21st Sharon Henthorn, Jimmy Woodard, Nadine, her mom, Dolores Smith, Jim and Tony Solario observed American Woodcocks at Lake Stanley Draper.  Preliminary GBBC reports show 131 countries have turned in reports and over 4,296 bird species were observed.  The top ten most frequently reported species (# of checklists) were Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, American Goldfinch, American Crow, House Finch, Tufted Titmouse, and Black-capped Chickadee.  Check their web site for photos and other interesting information.

On the 22nd Alex James encountered over 60 Rusty Blackbirds at Babcock Park in Stillwater.  In Pottawatomi county at Twin Lakes Mary and Lou Truex discovered Redhead, Chipping Sparrow, and Brewer’s Blackbird.  On the 24th Steve Davis and Mary had a young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in their Oklahoma City backyard.  At the Dolese Sand Pit in Guthrie John Hurd spotted an American Wigeon, and Killdeer, and James Hubbell had a Blue-winged Teal along North Morgan Road.

On the 25th Dick Gunn reported a Wood Duck on South Jenkins, and Jennifer Kidney pointed out a fly over Fish Crow.   At Rose Lake Deanne McKinney discovered Greater Yellowlegs, American Pipit and Long-billed Dowitcher, and Jack Hurd had a Brown Creeper at Lake Hefner’s Stars and Stripes Park.  Purple Martin scouts were reported by David Arbour at Red Slough.  How long before they arrive here?

In the Central Oklahoma area for February 136 bird species were reported with 11 new species which brings the total for the year to 155. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds and can be contacted by e-mail at emkok@earthlink.net.   Esther M. Key, Editor.