March 2011

Redbuds meet migrating birds

As drought and high fire danger continues and the landscape begins to brighten up with redbuds in the forest, spring beauties peeking through the mulch, and daffodils on the city lawns; the spring bird migration begins.  Will there be any rare or unusual birds?  Who will see the first arrival of the Oklahoma state bird?  Reports are a mixture of remaining winter species and arriving spring migrants.

On the 1st Matt Jung reported White-crowned and Harris’s Sparrows, Spotted Towhee, and a greatly reduced number of gulls.  On the 6th along east Stinchcomb WMA Matt discovered a Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Fish Crow, Brown Creeper, and Orange-crowned Warbler.  In Norman on the 7th he had 2 White-winged Doves and heard an Inca Dove.  On the 9th along South Jenkins he located Fox, Lincoln’s and White-throated Sparrow, and in Stillwater John Polo had a Hermit Thrust.

On the 10th Matt checked west Stinchcomb WMA and observed a male Purple Finch, Hairy Woodpecker, Savannah Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark.  In Stillwater Torre Hovick saw a Cinnamon Teal at the Teal Ridge Wetlands, and Tim O’Connell reported all three teal were still there on the 16th. On the 13th Alicia Riddle near Lake Arcadia reports the American Woodcock displays were continuing.  Jimmy Woodard heard Fish Crows on the 12th in Midwest City and on the 13th around SW 104th and Cemetery Road.  Esther Key heard an Upland Sandpiper in Moore.

On the 12th Brian Davis thought he saw a Mississippi Kite fly over his yard in central Norman.  Now this is way early for a kite, but one can never completely rule out a maverick individual or two, and in Norman why not a Sooner Kite.  On the 13th without binoculars Andy Crosby apparently saw one in Stillwater.  On the 19th John LaGroue and his wife saw and heard a Mississippi Kite fly about 15 to 20 feet over their house in Edmond, and on the 20th Brian Munzy saw one near SW 59thand I-35.

On the 16th the first Barn Swallows were reported by Tim O’Connell in Stillwater and Cynthia Van Den Broeke in Norman.  On the 19th Tim reported a Long-billed Dowitcher at the Teal Ridge Wetland in Payne County.  The OCAS field trip led by Jim Bates checked out Lake Overholser and scoped out an American Avocet, Baird’s Sandpipers, and Franklin’s Gulls.

On the 20th Matt checked the mud flats of Lake Overholser and found Snowy Egrets, American Golden Plover, and Lesser Yellowlegs.  Angie and Ben took their daughters to Dahlgren Lake in the Lexington WMA and discovered Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireos, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Meanwhile, in her neighbor’s yard in Norman a Black-and White Warbler appeared.  In SW Oklahoma City Patti Muzny had singing Chipping Sparrows and around sundown Purple Martins swept across her back yard and called out their most welcome greetings.  In Edmond Lisa Bewley also had Purple Martins checking out their house.

On the 22nd along South Jenkins Cecil Johnson and Dick Gunn managed to spot Yellow-throated Warbler, Vesper Sparrow, and Marsh Wren.  On the 23rd Bill Diffin located a Ruby-crowned Kinglet on the west side of the Stinchcomb WMA.  On the 24th at Stinchcomb Matt noticed two Northern Rough-winged Swallows coursing over the river and along the Lake Overholser mud flats five Pectoral Sandpipers.  Glenda Leslie sent Joe Grzybowski some pictures of Eared Grebes on Lake Hefner.

On the 25th Larry Mays had a Lark Sparrow singing behind his house in Newcastle, and discovered a Louisiana Waterthrush 7 miles northeast of Tuttle while Dwayne Elmore’s wife spotted a very early Summer Tanager at their birdbath in Payne County.  On the 27th the OCAS field trip led by Dick Gunn along South Jenkins located a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Les Imboden discovered one on a power line along Hwy 33 west of Perkins.  Donald Winslow saw an American Bittern in decidedly unbittern like habitat, the mowed grass of a city park in Shawnee.  On the 29thin Norman Joe Grzybowski’s feeder visitors included Clay-colored Sparrows and Red-breasted Nuthatches.

On the 31st Susie Ruby‘s friend reports a sighting of 200 Swainson’s Hawks on the Menesse Farm field east and south of Paul’s Valley.  Charles Douglas announced he had seen a Marbled Godwit and two Glaucous Gulls on Lake Overholser’s mud flats.  At Lake Hefner Joe found Pectoral, Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, a first cycle California Gull, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Common Loons.

Dick Gunn reports there was a lot of smoke on South Jenkins.  Tinker Vandenburg told him the fire started at the compost facility and burned south along the Half Mile Woods up to the beaver pond and then on Cancer hill.  Will this create a change in bird species for the area?

During March a total of 134 bird species were reported including 28 new species which increased the 2011 Central Oklahoma area total to 166 species.  I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by turning in reports.  I can be contacted by e-mail at   Esther M. Key, Editor.