September 2012

Already an unusual winter migrant

As the blossoms of the Maximilliam sunflowers open to greet the arrival of fall, migrating birds are arriving and leaving the drought stricken central Oklahoma area. By the 12th the News reports that to date Oklahoma has had 150,000 acres and 600 homes burn. Some sections of Central Oklahoma are in the exceptional drought category while most of the area is in the severe category. Will the drought in the central United States from the Dakotas to Texas bring in different winter birds?

On the 5th at Yukon City Park James Hubbel located Least Flycatcher, Wilson’s Warbler, and Prothonotary Warbler. On the 6th Matt Jung walked Stinchcomb WMA West and on the 8th and 9th he explored Lake Overholser and heard a Sedge Wren, plus he identified American Avocets, Least Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Bell’s Vireo, Gray Catbird, and Yellow Warbler. On the 7th James Hubbell discovered a Barn Owl near SE 29th Street and South Bryant Avenue. On the 8th Jimmy Woodward found an Inca Dove at the Chisholm Park in Yukon. On the 10th Butch Enterline photographed a Nashville Warbler in Norman and located an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Lake Stanley Draper.

On the 14th Brian Muzny spotted a lone Black Vulture perched on a pole along SW 149th between South Western and Pennsylvania. Jim Bates stopped at Crystal Lake in the evening and located a male American Redstart, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and saw a bright yellow and green bird fly across in front of him. It landed in a nearby bush and was identified as a Hooded Warbler. On the 15th John Polo discovered two Caspian Terns at Boomer Lake. Joe Grzybowski passed by Lake Hefner and the most unusual bird was a mostly winter-plumaged Hudsonian Godwit, plus Black-bellied Plover, Northern Shoveler, Eared Grebe, Herring Gull, Caspian and Black Terns, and a group of Buff-breasted Sandpipers which was disturbed by a Merlin. Later in Norman he saw a Broad-winged Hawk soaring. A Sora Rail was photographed in the end zone at OSU’s T Boone Pickens Stadium on National TV.

On the 16th along the Stinchomb WMA north Matt found a first year Loggerhead Shrike, American Kestrel, Tennessee and Orange-crowned Warbler. In Stillwater Tim O’Connell saw a House Wren and Common Yellowthroat, and at Couch Park John Polo located a Summer Tanager and two Swainson’s Thrushes. Later during the night he heard Upland Sandpipers migrating through. On the 17th at Lake Stanley Draper Butch Enterline caught sight of a female Northern Harrier.

On the 18th at Lake Hefner Matt found four of the first fall Osprey; on the 19th along Stinchcomb WMA west Pied-billed Grebes, Swainson’s Hawk, Clay-colored Sparrows; and on the 20th a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Jennifer Kidney heard a Spotted Towhee wheezing on South Jenkins in Norman. On the 21st Hollis Price had an American Redstart at her fountain in Jones. On the 21st Jack Olson located a Marsh Wren on the west side of the offices at 3705 W Memorial Road, and Jim Bates checked Crystal Lake and discovered a Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo. At Lake Hefner’s Lakeshore Park Marybeth Murphy spotted an American Bittern. On the 22nd Joe had a Red-breasted Nuthatch go through his yard in Norman. Sharon Henthorn saw two Lincoln’s Sparrows along the east Stinchcomb WMA, and on the 24th at Lake Hefner she located Northern Pintails.

On the 27th Alex James hiked 8 miles at Lake Carl Blackwell and located a Willow Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Pine Warbler. On the 28th Kent Andersson and Jason Heinen had two Palm Warblers and two White-crowned Sparrows at Drummond Flats WMA. On the 29th after the rain Jimmy Woodward and Nadine walked the coffer dam at Lake Overholser and located Chipping Sparrows. Then they noticed a disturbance on the lake caused by an unfamiliar dark bird which Jimmy thinks may have been a jaeger, but didn’t get a good enough look for a positive identification. On the 30th at Yukon City Park Jimmy observed a flock of Barn and Cliff Swallows and watched an immature Broad-winged Hawk being harassed by a Cooper’s Hawk. In Edmond, Dave McNeely had a Winter Wren in his yard. The month ended with a cold and rainy spell. A few winter residents have arrived but when will the swimmers, sparrows, juncos and other winter residents arrive? Already an unusual arrival of Red-breasted Nuthatches has been reported. Will there be others?

During September 162 bird species were reported with 9 new species which increased the year’s total to 268 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.