March 2009

Spring Surprises

March is such an interesting month with changes in the weather, the beginning of bird migration and the awakening of cool season plants from their winter dormancy. March announced the arrival of members of the Swallow; Egret and Heron; shorebird; and warbler families and ended with the fanfare arrival of our favorite state bird. Nature greeted these arrivals with fire danger warnings, an earthquake, and snowstorms.

On February 21st Bill Diffin, Terri Underhill and Chris Clack found a Long-billed Dowitcher east of Rose Lake, a Turkey Vulture in a field along Mustang Road, a dozen Greater Yellowlegs and a few Long-billed Dowitchers at the east end of Foreman Road.

On March 1st Bill Diffin visited Fort Reno and found about 200 Sandhill Cranes in the shallow draw several hundred yards east of the entrance road, as well as, 3 Wilson’s Snipe in the pond east of the entrance, and at Stinchcomb a Vesper Sparrow. Terri Underhill found Snow Geese on Mustang Road. On March 4th Jason Heinen found a single American Golden Plover at Sooner Lake, and on the 5th Matthew Vandenbroeke had his first Fish Crow on South Jenkins in Norman.

On the 6th Jimmy Woodard and Chris Clack found a couple of Wood Ducks and heard a few grunts from a Virginia Rail at the Coffer Dam. They heard two Winter Wrens on the east side of Stinchcomb, and Bill Diffin heard a Black-crowned Night Heron. Larry Mays took a morning run and noticed the resident flock of Wild Turkey gobblers is starting to strut their stuff. At the end of Jenkins in Norman Brian Davis saw a Tree Swallow, which was also seen on the 7th by Dick Gunn, John Raeside, Ben Holt and his wife.

On the 7th at Stinchcomb Dave and Sue Woodson found a pair of Cinnamon Teals. Max Fuller, Jerry Vanbebber and Jimmy Woodward visited Sooner Lake and found one male White-winged Scoter, two immature Trumpeter Swans, 4 or 5 immature eagles, and thousands of ducks. On the 8th Joe Grzybowski took a spin around Lake Hefner and found a Red-throated Loon, over 100 Horned Grebes, and a first-winter California Gull.

On the 8th at 0806 an earthquake shook central Oklahoma that measured 3.4 on the Richter scale with its epicenter 3.1 miles below ground near SE 15th and South Bryant Avenue. Other earthquakes this year include 3.4 and 3.2 on the Richer scale on January 28th and February 22nd in Grady County, and a 2.4-magnitude quake January 29th in Lincoln County.

On the 12th a snowstorm greeted the previous day’s newly arrived flock of over 30 Great Egrets at the Lake Hefner canal area. In Norman Brian Davis found a flock of Cedar Waxwings in the small persimmon tree outside the museum staff entrance. On the 13th at Lake Overholser Larry Mays found 2 Common Yellowthroats, an Orange-crowned Warbler, 2 Swamp Sparrows and 2 singing Marsh Wrens; at Rose Lake a Lesser Yellowlegs; and at Lake Hefner 1 Franklin’s Gull and 2 Purple Martins.

On the 14th Esther Key had about 20 American Pipits in her yard in Tuttle. On the 15th Patti Muzny had a Black and White Warbler at Byars, OK. On the 16th at Sooner Lake Bill Diffin found a flock of Brewer’s Blackbirds, and Mary and Lou Truex found 3 White-winged Scoters, 2 Surf Scoters, 3 Black Scoters, and 3 Long-tailed Ducks.

On the 21st Patti Muzny had their first Purple Martins near I-240 and South Western. On the 22nd Matt and Cynthia Van Den Broeke found a Northern Rough-winged and a Barn Swallow on the south side of Norman. Jennifer Kidney, Dick Gunn and Anais Starr found the first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher near the river on South Jenkins in Norman, and Kim Wiar had one in her backyard.

Ben Holt and his wife found a Black and White Warbler at Lake Stanley Draper and the first Snowy Egret at Canal Road at Lake Hefner. Tim O’Connell found a Louisiana Waterthrush at Heinrich’s Park in Stillwater. On the 22ndBill Diffin found a single Glaucous Gull at the Lake Hefner dam.

On the 23rd a storm with hail left 1.35 inches of rain in various locations. On the 24th Joe Grzybowski had a Swainson’s Hawk flying over Norman. On the 25th Jennifer Kidney had a Clay-colored Sparrow in her Norman yard, and Diane Landoll reported a Pectoral Sandpiper and beautiful Merlin of the prairie race was found in the Wellington Lake Housing Edition in Norman by the OU ornithology class.

On the 27th a blizzard hit the panhandle and snow fell in central OK covering the blooming redbud trees in a soft, white blanket. On the 29th Bill Diffin found a White-eyed Vireo at Yukon City Park fluttering along the tops of the honeysuckle thickets bordering the Copeland trail. In the early morning on the 30th Larry Mays heard a couple of American Golden Plovers calling as they flew overhead in Newcastle. Jimmy Woodard and Max Fuller birded Fort Reno and found a Stilt Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, American Avocet, and Baird’s Sandpipers.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers were reported on the 30th by Dick Gunn and Brian Davis in Norman, Jim Bates at the Will Rodgers Airport, Jason Heinen in Stillwater, Dora Webb at Lake Hefner, and on the 31st Esther Key in Mustang. On the 31st Dick Gunn found a Cattle Egret on the Beaver Pond on South Jenkins in Norman.

In March 144 bird species were reported making the total reported to date for the Central Oklahoma area at 173 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, leave a message at 405-381-9170 or mail to 4603 Pikey’s Trail, Tuttle, OK 73089. Esther M. Key, Editor.