May / June 2012

After our stifling heat and drought last year, the recent cooler and beautifully damp weather has been totally delightful. It is definitely contributing to the happiness of our Oklahoma City front yard Eastern Bluebird couple. They raised one brood and as I drove into our driveway the other day I spotted Mrs.  Bluebird with a bite- sized meal in her beak for her begging babies in the box. At the time Mr. Bluebird was observing this procedure from his lofty perch on the utility wire across the street. Their presence for the past couple of years has added many smiles and a lovely bit of “bluebird blue” color to our yard.

Earlier in May I was out walking around the  neighborhood one Saturday  morning and heard, then  saw, a male Painted Bunting in the 20-acre field  between south Walker and south Western. That was  really a surprise! They nest at our Byars acreage, but I  wouldn’t expect them to be found that close to I-240.  So glad not every bird reads the “Date Guide.” Keeps  us on our toes.

Also nesting in our OKC back yard are Brown  Thrashers, Cardinals, Carolina and Bewick’s Wrens,  Chickadees, Mockingbirds and Blue Jays. Seen  frequently are House Sparrows, Starlings, Crows,  various egrets, herons and night herons, the local geese, Mourning and Collared Doves, Mississippi Kites, and the resident Cooper’s Hawk and an occasional Cowbird.

The Barn Swallows that own the airspace all around the State Capitol Complex are so entertaining. Their aerial antics can be viewed from four stories up or
experienced at eye level as they sweep the lush lawn hunting for meals. Occasionally one will land on the window ledge outside our office. Sometimes they perch along the entrance ramp rails to preen and the sun gets the opportunity to focus on their striking blue-black feathers. Makes me enter the building smiling already! Not a bad way so start the day. And the Scissortails of the city always amaze me. They hawk insects from extremely busy ntersections such as SW 59th and Santa Fe or Shields and seem to survive.

A friend in the Harrah area told me about an aggressive crow in their rural area that would dive on humans and even dove repeatedly at their pickup anytime it went down a certain county road. I knew Mississippi Kites would take on vehicles as well as humans, but have never seen a crow do that. The Red-tailed Hawks that raised one nestling on the south side of the Oklahoma River Bridge near the Devon and Chesapeake boathouses were interesting to watch on my daily commute. A day or two after the youngster began “branching,” one of our windstorms blew their nest limb down. I think all survived, because I’ve seen them perched on the nest tree. A Western Kingbird was never far away, using the utility wire as his perch.

The wildflowers in our Crosstimbers Prairie at Byars have been incredibly beautiful. In front of the cabin is a dense population of Monarda (beebalm),
mixed with Black-eyed Susans, Coneflower, Milkweed, Indian Paintbrush, and all of the other expected prairie flowers. All of these flowers make our pasture a haven for butterflies. I don’t know my butterflies, but I know I love to look at them and enjoy just standing in the pasture watching them flit from plant to plant. There are many winged wonders of yellow, orange, black and orange,
black, white and every color in between. We won’t discuss the number of ticks and chiggers per square inch in these beautiful wildflower patches. Mama always said, “Spray the legs of your britches and go take pleasure in being outside anyway.” (Bug bites eventually quit itching, don’t they?)

We have not located our Pileated Woodpecker’s nest, but we suspect they have set up housekeeping somewhere west of our pond. They can be heard and sometimes we see them zip over the pond dam and disappear along the creek. The Bewick’s Wrens have raised one family in front of our cabin and seem to be working on another. Brian photographed the first nest-building several weeks

Summer will be descending upon us soon and I wish everyone a summer of good birds and I’m now getting close to the fall migration mode!