January 2009

Beginning a New Year of Birding Adventures

It is time to start the 2009 New Year list and see what exciting bird adventures await central Oklahoma. In mid-January a winter storm roared through central Oklahoma leaving a dangerous layer of ice and snow. Birds flocked to feeders to the enjoyment of many backyard birdwatchers, as well as, the cold and hungry birds. In our yard a Northern Junco was eating berries on the dwarf Nandinas. Meadowlarks and sparrows were eating seeds from the native grasses, as well as, snuggling down in the dead stems to get out of the vicious wind and moisture illustrating how it can benefit birds to wait until spring to clean up your garden.

On the 3rd Gayle Snider reports a large group of birders found the Yellow-billed Loon on Lake Hefner. On the 2nd Max Fuller reports 7 people saw the White-winged Crossbill in Norman, and on the 8th Larry Mays found a Purple Finch while waiting to see it. On the 17th Mr. Byrd, Kent Andersson and others saw it. Nancy Vicars arrived later and missed it but found a Pine Warbler.

On the 4th Jimmy Woodard, Max Fuller and David Cook from Seattle, WA found about 100 Mountain Bluebirds in two locations ten miles west of Fort Reno and Old Hwy 66. They also found one Ferruginous Hawk, 3 Barn Owls, 2 Tree Sparrows and a Pileated Woodpecker. Later Jimmy and David flushed 3 Short-eared Owls over the “Purina field” in Edmond. On the Coffer Dam road Larry Mays found Marsh Wrens, a Common Yellowthroat, Swamp Sparrows, and at Lake Hefner an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. On the 5th Joe Grzybowski and Matt Jung saw Pacific Loons, Nancy Vicars reported a Glaucous Gull and Paul van Els located 2 Wilson’s snipe, 2 Great Egrets, and 3 Western Grebes.

On the 12th Wendell Long is quite certain he saw a Gyrfalcon just west of Lake Stanley Draper several miles north of Norman where John Sterling saw a possible Gyrfalcon on the 11th. According to Dick Gunn the Norman Sewage Treatment plant’s outfall makes a year round warm water creek that parallels South Jenkins, which has good swamp/marsh birds, and on the 13th his dog flushed an American Bittern out of the very tall reeds.

On the 18th Jimmy Woodard, Jerry Vanbebber and Max Fuller stopped at Sooner Lake and found it full of waterfowl since the smaller bodies of water were frozen. They found a Pacific Loon near the dam and a Prairie Falcon along with dozens of Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles soaring above the area. Patti Muzny had a Lincoln Sparrow in her yard in Southeast Oklahoma City, and Matthew and Cynthia Vandenbroeke had 2 confirmed Clay-colored Sparrows in Norman. On the 19th Tim O’Connell found about 20 Mountain Bluebirds in Payne County along County Road 150, aka Hackelman Road.

On the 20th the Tuesday Morning Birders at Lake Overholser found 2 Western Grebes and a female Long-tailed Duck. In Norman on the 23rd Dick Gunn and Brian Davis had a single Western Sandpiper on the mud flat off South Jenkins along with large flocks of peeps. Matt Jung’s daughter in Norman had an Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warbler on the suet feeders, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a White-throated Sparrow. On the 25th Jim Arterburn made a quick pass through Sooner Lake where the Surf Scoters had increased to 6 while the Black Scoter was still hanging out with the large flock of Greater Scaup.

On the 26th freezing rain, sleet, and snow hit Central Oklahoma. Andy Feldt in Norman had Ruby-crowned Kinglets regularly visiting his suet feeder. In Edmond Karen Bays had a Fox Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, both Eastern and Spotted Towhees and White-throated Sparrows. Jim Jorgensen in Midwest City had a Fox Sparrow at his feeder. In Tuttle Sue Lutzes hosted about 18 species, which included Pine Sisken, Brewer’s Blackbirds, and Brown-headed Cowbirds. Matt Jung had already made three trips to the feeders and was rewarded with 20 species including a White-winged Dove and on the 27th a Cooper’s Hawk and Inca Dove.

On the 28th Dick Gunn, Brian Davis and Joe Grzybowski checked South Jenkins in Norman and saw 2 Wood Ducks, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, the albino Red-tailed Hawk, an American Kestrel with a small mammal in its clutches, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, Hermit Thrush, Common Yellowthroat, American Tree, Lincoln, Swamp, and White-throated sparrows. Later Diane Landoll and Charles Treaftis added a Brown Thrasher.

On the 28th Pat Velte was still seeing the Yellow-throated Loon on Lake Hefner. On the 29th Jerry and Peggie Mitchell of Marlow, OK saw the White-winged Crossbill around noon in Norman and in the afternoon the Yellow-billed Loon on Lake Hefner. Both life birds for them!

Jim Arterburn has never considered Sooner Lake a hot spot for gulls, but on the 31st he found a shelf of ice on the back pond on the north side of the plant property that had around 40-50 large gulls including a Glaucous, first winter Thayer’s and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Later on the N-S causeway there was a first winter Great Black-backed Gull. An awesome find!

To date 122 species have been reported in the Central Oklahoma area. 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.