November 2012

A mystery bird again

Birds and birders were greeted in November with blue skies, colder frosts, and leaves turning to gold. Although blue skies are beautiful, it meant the month only had one day of rain of around one inch which increased the area of central Oklahoma in the extreme drought category. Even though plants aren’t using as much water as during the summer, they still need more moisture than nature is providing. Meanwhile, along the creeks that meander through the prairies and fields the trees took turns changing to a brilliant yellow punctuated with occasionally patches of bright red. As the wind blew the leaves to the ground to form mulch, insects moved into the decaying leaves and winter birds arrived in time for the feast. The prairie landscape turned into multiple colors as the various species of grass completed creating their seeds and changed into their fall dress-up colors in time for the newly arriving prairie grassland birds. Did the drought further north and west send a different variety of birds to Oklahoma? Only time and observant birders will tell.

Matt Jung started November by walking east Stinchcomb WMA on the 1st and locating both Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Hairy Woodpeckers, White-crowned, Song and Lincoln Sparrows. On the 3rd Tim O’Connell observed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Stillwater. On November 5th Christie Stoops reported a Rufous Hummingbird at Cottonwood Creek in Logan County. Betty Clark of Shawnee sent in a late report of a Rufous Hummingbird at her feeder for five days the last week of September. She could sit on the porch and watch it for long periods of time and it would even fly toward her to a tree by the porch.

On the 6th American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin showed up at Hollis Price’s feeders in Jones. In Norman on the 9th Joe Grzybowski spotted Le Conte’s Sparrows at OU Max Westheimer Airport, and Nancy Reed’s had a 15tha Purple Finch, and on the 18tha Lark Bunting at her feeder.

In Norman on the 20th while Lee Hoy was visiting family for Thanksgiving he made a run over to the Embassy Suites’ Longspur Field. He witnessed multiple flyovers of Smith’s Longspurs, several flights of Pipits, an American Kestrel, and later on his brother’s pond off of 84th Street south of Highway 9 he saw Hooded Mergansers and a Cackling Goose. On the 21st along South Jenkins T K noticed a Common Yellowthroat, and Nancy Reed spied a Rufous Hummingbird at her feeder. At Waco and Stevens Road in Pottawatomie County Dala Grissom found Brewer’s Blackbirds.

On the 21st at Lake Hefner, Sharon Henthorn sited Common Loon, Red-breasted Mergansers, and behind a flock of American Coots a mystery bird. Later while she was scanning the lake’s southwest area, she discovered 2 Whooping Cranes. She was soon joined by other birders to enjoy this unique migration sighting, and on the 22nd at sunset the Cranes were again reported by John Shackford. Then a cold front moved in that night, and they were gone. Meanwhile, Bill Carrell of Tulsa tentatively identified Sharon’s photo of a brown mystery gull as a possible Pomarine Jaeger but is uncertain without a better look. Twice this year a mystery bird has been suspected as being a Jaeger but couldn’t be positively identified. Keep your eyes open, it’s not too late for a certain identification and addition to this year’s list.

On the 22nd Grace Huffman caught sight of a Rough-legged Hawk near North Air Depot Blvd and East Wilshire Blvd. On the 23rd Nathan Hillis located a Bufflehead on Lake Overholser. On the 24th Mary and Steve Davis witnessed an adult Bald Eagle sitting on the shore on Lake Hefner in the Prairie Dog Point area, and T K saw a possible Dunlin.

On the 25th John Polo birded Couch Park and spied Cedar Waxwings, a White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Thrasher and Barred Owl. Jimmy Woodward drove the back roads southwest of Mustang toward Union City and caught sight of a gorgeous female Ferruginous Hawk near SW 104th and Alfadale Road. In other locations he spotted Greater Roadrunners, Loggerhead Shrikes, Lapland Longspurs, and at El Reno sewage ponds among the numerous waterfowl, Rudy Ducks and one female Common Goldeneye. In Jim Bates’ Oklahoma City back yard he had 3 Brown Creepers; along South Jenkins in Norman T K discovered a Hermit Thrush; and in Norman Joe Grzybowski noticed an Orange-crowned Warbler. On the 26th Brian Davis mentioned an Inca Dove is in his Norman backyard. His mother-in-law tells him it has been showing up periodically over the past few weeks. On the 30th Matt checked Lake Hefner and noted the water level is as low as he has ever seen it.

Now is the time to start scouting for the Christmas Bird Count. During November 125 bird species were reported with 3 new species which increased the year’s total to 276 species in the Central Oklahoma area. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds and can be contacted by e-mail at Esther M. Key, Editor.