January 2012

Wonderful Birds and Weather


From the Cleveland County Christmas Bird Count to the beginning of the American Woodcock displays January has provided a multitude of unusual birds and weather.  January was the 8th warmest on record with temperatures above 40⁰F every day.  The month continued dry until the 24th when a storm left over 2 inches of rain.  Several birds in the rare or accidental category have found their way to Central Oklahoma from the north, west, east and summer.


Mark Howery provided the Cleveland County Christmas Bird Count from January 1st and notable birds included Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Spotted Sandpiper, Loggerhead Shrike, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Thrasher, American Pipit, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Towhee, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s Blackbird, Purple Finch and during count week a Trumpeter Swan. Meanwhile, in Marland John Polo, Terry Mitchell, Jimmy Woodard, Valerie Bradshaw, Pat Seibert, Jo Loyd and a birder from San Antonio found the Snowy Owl. Near Binger Tim Ryan started the New Year with Mountain Bluebirds, and in Norman near the Canadian River John Raeside and Anais Starr located a Townsend Solitaire, from the western mountain ranges.


On the 2nd Jimmy birded Lake Hefner and discovered a Red-throated Loon, a winter male adult Long-tailed Duck and at Crystal Lake along with roughly 1,500 other gulls the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.  On the 10th near the west Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge entrance Matt Jung had a small flock of Rusty Blackbirds, one of North America’s most rapidly declining species usually found in eastern states.

At Lake Hefner on the 11th James Hubbell saw a Snowy Egret; on the 1st and 12th Jim Bates observed a Franklin’s Gull in full breeding plumage; and on the 13th Matt Jung noticed two Western Grebes near Prairie Dog Point.  On the way to work around SE 59th and Sooner Road Brian Muzny spotted a Merlin.


On the 15th the OCAS field trip to the Embassy Suites area in Norman had 16 participants and located about 200 Chestnut-collared, 4-5 Smith’s, and one Lapland Longspurs along with LeConte’s Sparrows and two Sprague’s Pipits.  In Norman in their yards, Kim Wiar reports an Eastern Phoebe, and on the 19th Jennifer Kidney reported a White-winged Junco.  Matt Jung saw a different gull at Lake Hefner and thinks it might have been a Kittiwake. We hope someone else can confirm it.


On the 21st Chuck Bergeron reported a beautiful Snowy Owl approximate 7 miles east of Fairview on Hwy 58.  At Lake Hefner Jimmy reports that Bill Carroll spotted a Glaucous Gull and a Neotropic Cormorant among the Double-crested Cormorants.  On the 22nd Matt found 4 Thayer’s Gulls at Stars and Stripes Park and on the 23rd at the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge he located Northern Bobwhites, a Great Horned Owl, and a Tufted Titmouse. On the 23rd Mark Howery reported receiving two phone calls about a leucistic American Crow in the vicinity of Coltrane and Sorghum Mill Roads in Edmond.  It has been showing up between 0900 and 1100 with about 50 normal crows since mid-December.


On the 25th Eugene Young and Joe Grzybowski reported the Snowy Owl was still in Marland.  On the 28th John Raeside hiked from Cherry Creek Park in Norman to near the Canadian River to discover two Townsend’s Solitaires, but on the 29th Lindell Dillon and his wife only located one of them.  Further in northwest Oklahoma on the 29th Mark Cromwell found a pair of Tundra Swans near Goltry.  The farmer said they showed up the second week of January, stayed a week, disappeared, and returned on the 28th.


On the 28th James Hubbell heard the first buzz of an American Woodcock in the Woodcock field at the north end of Lake Stanley Draper and witnessed the flyby a few minutes later.  Patti’s were buzzing and displaying on the 29th at her cabin in McClain County.  Will an early spring come in February or will winter finally show up?


Thanks to the Cleveland County Christmas Bird Count the 2012 year started with 135 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.