November 2014

Terns and Gulls

As the cold fronts continue to push into central Oklahoma, they have brought some unique bird species but not all in our area.  They also brought a surprise snow on the 16th followed by a highs in the 70*F.  How did this effect the distribution of unusual species? Will central Oklahoma have an avian snowy surprise this winter?  Will all central Oklahoma counties have bird reports this month?

On the 2nd Brian Muzny saw a dark-phase Rough-legged Hawk near I-240 and Sooner Road.  On the 3rd James Hubbell found Vesper Sparrow and Rusty Blackbird on North Morgan Road in Canadian County.  On the 5th Sharon Henthorn drove around Lake Hefner and located Ruddy Ducks, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Loon and Greater Yellowlegs.  On the 6th Larry Mays discovered a White-throated Sparrow near his home in McClain County.

On the 9th Dick Gunn reported a Sora Rail along South Jenkins in Norman.  At Lake Hefner Kevin Groeneweg discovered Canvasback, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Avocets.  At Lake Carl Blackwell Scott Loss identified a Le Conte’s Sparrow; and Patti and Brian Muzny saw male Purple Finches near Byars in McClain County.

On the 11th flying over his home in Stillwater Scott Loss noted all five species of arctic geese including Snow, Ross’s, Canada, Greater White-fronted and Cackling, and later at a 5-minute stop at Boomer Lake he added four Black Vultures.  At the USAO Habitat Area in Grady County Jason Shaw noticed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  On the 15th a Snowy Owl was found in eastern Oklahoma by Ryan VanZant.  No, we can’t count it for our area, but we need to be on alert so one can be found here and counted.

Jimmy Woodard led an Audubon field trip to the Dolese Sand Pit in Logan County and the group saw Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Horned Grebe, Northern Harrier, Bonaparte’s Gull, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and Spotted Towhee.  Later Mary L and Steve Davis drove around Lake Hefner and located a lone male Wood Duck.  After Mary took quite a few photos, it flew away but then one by one, three immature Black-crowned Night Herons few by.

On the 16th in Stillwater Scott Loss was working in his driveway as the sun came out after the snow when he was excited to hear the dry rattle calls of Smith’s Longspurs overhead.  On the 18th Scott stopped at Boomer Lake and spotted a Lark Sparrow, which is one of the latest records for this latitude in eBird.  Later in the day at Lake Carl Blackwell he located a Lewis’s Woodpecker actively chasing all Red-headed and Red-bellied Woodpeckers away from a big dead tree near the store/office. This is one of the most eastern records for this species. On the 19th Lewis Pond saw it and a Prairie Falcon at Lake Carl Blackwell.

On the 23rd Bill Diffin checked Lake Hefner and located a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  In Miami in Ottawa County Ed Saunders reported his sighting of a Snowy Owl near his home.  No we can’t count this one either.  Keep looking.  But just as exciting and even more improbable at Lake Thunderbird Joe Grzybowski spotted a first-winter Arctic Tern. Thanks to his announcement several people have been able to locate and photograph this extremely rare bird.

On the 24th Ryan Shaw saw a Rough-legged Hawk near Ninnekah in Grady County.  On the 25th Rachel Wrenn noticed a Hermit Thrush at Little River State Park.  On the 26th Bill Diffin reported a flock of 40 Smith’s Longspurs on the east side of Prairie Dog Point, and John Tharp spotted Rusty Blackbird at Lake Thunderbird’s Alameda Drive Bridges.

On the 27th Dave and Sue Woodson spotted a probable Brewer’s Sparrow on the north side of Lake Stanley Draper near the end of Point 6.  T K saw Golden-crowned Kinglet at Lake Thunderbird Little River Marina.  Scott Loss found a Short-eared Owl and American Tree Sparrow at West Richmond Road in Stillwater.  On the 28th Tony Solorio saw a Western Grebe at Lake Overholser north of the fishing dock on the west side, and James Hubbell located Lapland Longspur on North Morgan Road.  On the 30th Brandy and John Polo spotted a Golden Eagle at the west side of Lake McMurtry.  And with these interesting species arriving, it is time for the Christmas Bird Counts.  Will one have a Snowy Owl or Artic Tern?

In the Central Oklahoma area 136 bird species were reported in November with 4 new species which brings the total for the year to 289.  No birds were reported in Kingfisher, Seminole and Lincoln counties during November.  I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds and can be contacted by e-mail at   Esther M. Key, Editor.