May 2009

Eastern and Western Invasions

This has been an unusual spring with more numerous reports of eastern wood warblers then can be mentioned here, as well as, reports of western species such as Lazuli Buntings and Black-headed Grosbeaks. From April 25* to May 16* Central Oklahoma had rainfall 20 out of 21 days. Not only was birdwatching great in the field, but also reports from windows at work were interesting and unusual.

On April 30th Jennifer Kidney had a Common Nighthawk in her Norman yard. In late April a former student of Tim O’Connell photographed a Common Poorwill on a lawn in the Oklahoma City area.

On May 1st in Norman Debby Kaspari reports a banner day for bird activity at her house with a second male Lazuli Bunting, 3 or 4 Blackpoll Warblers, an American Redstart, at least 8 Yellow Warblers, several Nashville and one Tennessee Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrows, and Swainson’s Thrushes. A first of the season, Yellow-billed Cuckoo was calling, as well as, a Yellow-throated, White-eyed, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireo, and throughout the day a large flock of American Goldfinches kept up a cacophony. It was downright distracting for someone who works at home. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but she had 38 species just looking out the window now and then. On the 5th she added Painted and Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and a singing Pine Siskin. In Payne County Mark Cromwell had a fallout of about 15 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds who had divided up among the feeders and were filling up.

On May 2nd after seeing an exhausted Orange-crowned Warbler outside of the Life Sciences West Building on the OSU’s campus yesterday, Vince Cavalieri decided to check and see if there were any other migrants around. They went to Lake Sanborn and were not disappointed. In a little over an hour they saw, besides the usual suspects, 150-200 Orange-crowned Warblers, 40-50 Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black-throated Green Warbler, hundreds of Chipping and Clay-colored Sparrows, Blue-headed Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, several Great-crested Flycatchers, Mississippi Kite, and an Osprey with a fish. Meanwhile, near the intersection of Lakeview and Marine Drive in Stillwater as John Couch was watching a few shorebirds, he found a large falcon. After studying it, he concluded it had to be a Gyrfalcon, strange as that may sound. It was very similar to the first one he saw back in 1978. At South Jenkins in Norman, Bill Diffin found an unbelievable number of flycatchers in a marshy field, as well as, other bird species. Dick Gunn and John Raeside had a fly over White-faced Ibis and more Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Brian Davis relocated the Hudsonian Godwit amongst the Long-billed Dowitchers mixed in with a pair of Least Sandpipers and a Dunlin.

On May 3rd Joe Grzybowski checked South Jenkins around noon and found a Philadelphia Vireo. It is only the second time he has had a Philadelphia Vireo in Norman. Later Joe had some errands to run so he took a spin through Ten Mile Flats where some shorebirds in the middle of the section were chased up by an adult Peregrine Falcon, among some Canada Geese was a Greater White-fronted Goose, about 15 or so Bobolinks were singing near 48th Street, and flying in the area was a Swainson’s Hawk and Northern Harrier. On May 4th in Norman Dick Gunn had a good long look (for a vireo) at the Philadelphia Vireo. Nancy Reed had a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak visit her feeder several times during the evening.

On the 5th Paul van Els had a Yellow-breasted Chat and a Kentucky Warbler was hopping around in the bur oak tree in front of his office window on the OSU’s Stillwater campus. This is his style of birding, getting work done while observing some of the better North American birds! In Blanchard, Matt and Jenny Foster had a mini invasion of 10-15 Nashville Warblers.

On May 6th Ernie Wilson found a dozen Bobolinks along Wilshire near the Canadian Valley Sod farms located at Midwest and Wilshire Boulevards. On May 7th Jimmy Woodard had Bank, Cliff and Barn Swallows at Rose Lake and Yellow headed Blackbirds at the Yukon Water Treatment Plant along with tons of peeps including White-rumped Sandpipers. At Lake Thunderbird Ben Holt found Summer Tanagers. Matt and Jenny Foster had a Black-headed Grosbeak in Blanchard, and Nancy Reed had one in Norman. Vince Cavalieri at the OSU arboretum in Stillwater had Mourning Warbler and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and at the Teal Ridge Wetland a Marsh Wren, Baird’s and Semi-palmated Sandpiper.

On the 8th Nancy Vicars took a group of senior citizens on a bird walk during the afternoon through the Myriad Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City and found a Hooded Warbler, one Black-throated Green Warbler, 2 Gray Catbirds and a Red-headed Woodpecker. On the 9th Bill Diffin at Lake Hefner found an Orchard Oriole and an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Lazuli Buntings were found at the feeders of Gayl Wells in Midwest City and Nancy Reed in Norman.

On the 10th Jane Cunningham, Dr. David Elmendorf and others found a Black Tern at Lake Hefner. At the Coffer Dam north of Lake Overholser Larry Mays found a Willow Flycatcher. On the 10th Mary Lane found Bobolinks and about 100 American White Pelicans at Rose Lake. In Norman on the 11th west of I-35 John Raeside, Brian Davis and Richard Gunn found a Least Tern. On the 12th at Ten Mile Flats Ben Holt and Angie found 10-12 Black Bellied Plovers and one Dunlin.

On the 14th on South Jenkins in Norman Bill Diffin found 2 late White-crowned Sparrows, as well as, a pair of Blue Grosbeaks, and at the Canadian Valley Sod Farm 6 Buff-breasted Sandpipers. On the 16th, Larry Mays had a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at the Coffer Dam. On the 19th Matt Jung found a Bells’ Vireo, and on the 20th 3 Forester’s Terns. Bill Diffin in Yukon City Park found several Magnolia Warblers in some willows on the north woods trail. On the 22nd Bill found an Acadian Flycatcher on the west side of the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge and on the 23rd confirmed Alder Flycatchers and an American Redstart.

On the 29th on South Jenkins Dick Gunn reports the Yellow-throated Warbler is still there. On the 30th Matt Jung walked the Coffer Dam and drove to Rose Lake to find 42 species in 2 hours including Dickcissels, Prothonotary Warbler, Tufted Titmouse, and White-rumped Sandpiper.

In May 161 bird species were reported making the Central Oklahoma area total to date at 266 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. *Since I am traveling, these dates may need to be adjusted.