October 2020

Events during the month included the Fall BioBlitz, Jimmy’s Big Sit, October Big Day and a massive ice storm.  Red-breasted Nuthatches, Purple Finches and other unusual birds are popping up all over so watch your feeders closely, someone different may briefly appear.  This is the best time to be out and about birding.     

On September 29th Scot Loss discovered Palm Warbler at OSU – Magruder Plots; and Brian Marra, Elizabeth Hacker, and Grace Huffman observed Virginia Rail at Lake Hefner southernmost cove.  On October 1st in Norman Joe Grzybowski noticed Broad-winged Hawk and John Tharp saw Swainson’s Hawk; while at Carl Reherman Park in Edmond Rod Lusey spotted Osprey.  On the 2nd Bill Diffin found Warbling Vireo and Gray Catbird at Yukon City Park.  On the 3rd Linda Jones watched White-throated Sparrow at her feeder on the Lazy J in Lincoln County; and Mike Yough detected Sora Rail at Cushing Water Treatment Plant in Payne County. During the Oklahoma Fall BioBlitz Steve Davis and Priscilla Crawford reported Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and Least Sandpipers at the Mustang Road ‘playas’ in Canadian County. On the 4th William Radke identified Pileated Woodpecker, Vesper Sparrow, and Lincoln’s Sparrow at Rose Lake; and Frank Walker photographed red Eastern Screech-Owl in their owl nest box. 

On the 5th Caleb McKinney had Nashville Warbler at Ninnekah in Grady County; and John Tharp documented Sabine’s Gull at Lake Thunderbird SP – East Sentinel.  On the 6th Larry Mays located Red-breasted Nuthatch in McClain County; Scott Loss recorded Black-throated Green Warbler at Sanborn Lake; and Braden Farris verified a Sora Rail at Lake Hefner – Prairie Dog Point. On the 8th Chris Butler turned up Rudy Duck at Wiley Post Memorial Lake and Tree Swallow at Purcell Lake in McClain County. Meanwhile Joe Grzybowski and John Tharp were conversing at Lake Thunderbird – Sentinel Point when a different gull appeared amongst the Ring-bill Gulls.  After extensive discussion the current perspective is that the combination of size, leg color, bill structure, and overall plumage rule out Herring, Lesser Black-backed and California Gull and, therefore; it was most likely Thayer’s Iceland Gull; also seen was Caspian Tern. 

On the 9th Jimmy Woodard and Nadine Varner had a Big Sit in their yard in Midwest City with 16 individuals attending.  Some of the species reported were Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Black Vulture, and Cliff Swallow for a total of 49 species and 2,197 individual birds.  On the 10th Benjamin Ferraro tallied Brewer’s Blackbird in Shawnee; and  shortly before noon Nathan Kuhnert began noticing modest numbers of Turkey Vultures and Swainson’s Hawks migrating south over Norman. On the 12th Brian Marra and Elizabeth Hacker viewed American Goldfinch, Vesper Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Orange-crowned Warbler and Nashville Warbler at Lake Elmer in Kingfisher County; and Christie Stoops recognized House Wren at Cottonwood Creek in Logan Cunty. 

On the 13th Clay Bliznick got Eastern Screech-Owl at Lake Thunderbird – Little River Marina.  On the 14th Scott Loss confirmed Greater White-fronted goose at Babcock Park in Stillwater.  On the 15th Deborah Kaspari described  an adult male Evening Grosbeak visiting her birdbath in the Norman Silk Stocking Neighborhood.  On the 16th Brian Marra counted Red-breasted Nuthatch and Eastern Towhee at Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Gate 2 in Canadian County. Later Brian, Grace Huffman, and Elizabeth Hacker added Black-throated Green Warbler at Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma County while Someone came across Sedge Wren in Norman.

On the 17th during October Big Day the state of Oklahoma recorded 156 species in 29 counties.  The total species reported in each Central Oklahoma county were:  Canadian 75; Oklahoma 71; Cleveland 59; Payne 58; Logan 7; Pottawatomie 3; and Grady 1 for a total of 112 different bird species.  On the 18th Nancy Vicars visited the Myriad Gardens Center in downtown OKC and discovered some newly arrived winter visitors including White-throated, Lincoln’s and Field Sparrows, Winter Wren and Orange-crowned, Nashville and Common Yellowthroat Warblers.  On the 19th Jacob Crissup located Western Grebe amongst 1,000s of Franklin Gulls at Lake Hefner West Shoreline Drive; and John Tharp encountered American Golden-Plover at Lake Thunderbird SP – East Sentinel.    

On the 20th Joe Grzybowski reported Whooping Crane at Lake Thunderbird SP – East Sentinel found by Randy Soto and photographed by Cody Delano even as Brian Marra documented an Iceland Gull at Lake Hefner – Dam Road.  On the 23rd John Sterling identified three Purple Finches in a flock of Chipping Sparrows north of Paul’s Valley. On the 24th Mike Yough recognized Black-bellied Plover at Cushing Water Treatment Plant in Payne County.  At the Myriad Gardens Nancy Vicars observed Gray Catbird, Ruby and Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, but the biggest surprise was Wilson’s Snipe.  On the 25th Randolph King spotted Dunlin at Lake Thunderbird SP – East Sentinel.

On the 26th a historic massive ice storm hit central Oklahoma. For three days rain and sleet fell on trees loaded with fall leaves and as the ice built up tree tops bent to the ground, limbs broke, and power lines went down.  Nancy Reed photographed Common Redpoll at her feeder in Cleveland County; and in Kansas apparently an American Woodcock migration was interrupted with multiple birds being reported on the ground.  On the 27th Joe Grzybowski described California Gull at Lake Thunderbird SP – East Sentinel; and Cody Delano recognized American Woodcock at 77 and Cemetery Road in Cleveland County.  On the 29th Scott Loss identified Red-necked Grebe at the south end of Boomer Lake among a diverse mix of waterbirds including Horned and Eared Grebes, Common Loons, several duck species and Bonaparte’s Gulls.  On the 31st Branden Farris confirmed White-winged Scoter at Prairie Dog Point at Lake Hefner.  Now It is time to gear up for the annual Christmas Bird Count.  Interesting birds are normally found on count day so find a CBC and join the search. 


In the Central Oklahoma area during October, 184 species were reported with 5 new species bringing the total for 2020 to 296. I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds. Information is accessed at:  ebird. 2020 eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: https://ebird.org/region/US-OK?yr=all. (Accessed: AM October 30, 2020). And occasionally from Facebook, and the OKBIRDS List.  I can be contacted by e-mail at emkok@earthlink.net.  Esther M. Key, Editor.


                                                                Oct         Sept       Aug        May       April       March   Feb        Jan         31 BBA    8 Counties                               

Kingfisher                            116         111         111         087         062         056         021         010         2

                Seminole                             116         116         116         099         091         060         008         008         0

Pottawatomie                   121         121         116         099         078         058         035         027         5             

Lincoln                                  124         123         123         123         117         070         054         047         030         0

Garvin                                   129         129         129         128         093         067         053         037         003         5

Grady                                    144         143         142         137         111         073         068         048         0

                Logan                                    155         154         151         145         118         088         079         059         0

McClain                                162         159         159         155         130         094         073         038         0

                Canadian                             229         225         223         221         187         133         104         089         5

                Cleveland                            252 + 2  243         239         235         206         149         114         093         2

                Payne                                   255         250         248         244         216         154         122         111         4

                Oklahoma                           253         251         247         243         214         154         133         125         8


Number of bird species reported in 2020 according to eBird.        www.ebird.org