Summer 2011

Hottest and Driest !!

The 2011 nesting season was a challenge in central Oklahoma as the drought expanded from moderate to severe, and it became the hottest on record.  The 100 degree day record was set in 1980, but 1936 had hotter temps overall when both the highs and lows are calculated. That is until 2011 when there were 60 days of 100°F or higher temperatures with 20 of those days breaking the record for the high temperature of the day.  The average daily temperature in July broke the national record as the hottest ever setting up this as the hottest summer on record.  Did any juvenile birds hatch, fledge and survive?


On June 1st at Lake Hefner Steve and Mary located two Black-necked Stilts and at Lake Overholser Bill Diffin discovered a Willet, White-rumped Sandpipers, Forster’s Terns, Bonaparte’s Gull, Franklin Gulls, and a few Ring-billed Gulls.  On the 3rd in Stillwater Timothy O’Connell had a singing Cassin’s Sparrow, and on the 7th about 1 km away he heard an Acadian Flycatcher.  Pete Janzen of Kansas reports multiple posts on Cassin’s Sparrows in at least six Kansas counties where they had NEVER been recorded before.  Speculation is Sthat the drought has changed the habitat enough to cause their movement further east this year.

On the 15th Jimmy Woodard looked out the window at his home and saw a Blue Jay pecking a large brown bat.  The blue jay flew away leaving it struggling on the ground.  When Jimmy and Nadine investigated, they discovered the bat had two small babies clinging to its underside.

On the 12th Bill reports water is rushing into Lake Hefner where he spotted a Neotropic Cormorant and Caspian Tern.  On the 16th Lindell Dillon reports a nesting Orchard Oriole and Eastern Kingbirds at Lake Thunderbird.  On the 22nd James Hubbell report the water is still flowing in fast at Lake Hefner’s canal and the water level is almost back to full.  He located both a Least Tern and Gray Catbird, while on the 23rd Dick Gunn saw Least Terns on the Canadian River at South Jenkins in Norman.  On the 23rd Tim posted an unconfirmed report of a Crested Caracaras west of Stillwater along 44th east of the N/S Hackelman Road.  Seems like this species has had unconfirmed reports in previous years. On the 30th Matt Jung checked Lake Overholser and located American White Pelican.


On the 2nd Matt Jung discovered two Prothonotary Warblers at the Coffer Dam, and in Stinchcomb West an Eastern Wood Pewee, Blue Grosbeaks, a male Baltimore Oriole feeding two fledglings, and lots of Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice feeding fledglings!  On July 3 Dick Gunn, John Raeside, and Anais Starr saw a White-breasted Nuthatch on South Jenkins.  On the 8th while walking the berms at Lake Overholser, Matt saw 2 early Redhead Ducks, and on South Jenkins Dick saw a Solitary Sandpiper.

Mark Howery reported many fledgling birds in his Norman back yard – Baltimore Orioles, Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, Brown Thrashers, American Robins, House Finches, Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, and Carolina Wrens.  Nesters across the street included a Red-bellied Woodpecker in a river birch and Chimney Swifts in the chimney.  From the 8th to the 10th Matt saw Red-headed Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, two Northern Flicker family groups feeding fledglings, and heard Fish Crows.

On the 9th Jimmy’s had a brief glimpse of what looked to be a male Rufous Hummingbird at the feeder outside the kitchen window.  On the 11th Jennifer Kidney was shocked to discover a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker who should be in Canada or some such place now.  She especially did not expect to see such birds in this wretched drought and heat wave.  On the 16th James Hubbell reports Lake Overholster water levels are low, and shorebirds are arriving to occupy the mudflats.


On the 3rd Joyce Konigmach in Stillwater reports about 6 Black-chinned Hummingbirds are coming to her feeders.   At the Lake Overholser puddle, Jim Bates observed Wilson’s Phalaropes, Stilt Sandpipers, lots of peeps, and a flock of about 20 Buff-breasted Sandpipers.  On the 5th Dick Gunn and Jennifer Kidney reported two Tri-colored Herons along South Jenkins.

On the 6th at Lake Overholser Jim Bates scanned the edge of the lake from his car and saw Least Tern, Black Tern, Forster’s Tern, Marbled Godwits, Wilson’s Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher , Stilt Sandpiper, and American Avocet, and on the west central part of the lake, an island is appearing where there are a few Buff-Breasted Sandpipers and a Black-bellied Plover.  On the 14th Jimmy visited Lake Overholser and discovered Marbled Godwits, Willet, White-rumped Sandpipers and reports both lakes water levels are as low as he has ever seen them.

On the 7th in Stillwater John Polo went to the OSU arboretum and located Louisiana Waterthrush, Warbling Vireo, and just off Virginia Avenue he saw two American Kestrels.  On the 18th Doc Garland found an Upland Sandpiper and Lark Sparrows on a gravel road in the Payne/Logan County area; and in Norman Nancy Reed photographed a beautiful female Black-headed Grosbeak in her yard.

On the 19th Larry Hancock of Ardmore had a pretty little Empidonax Flycatcher hanging around the yard.   From a photograph Ross Silcock would like to suggest that the primary projections (past the tertials) are too long for a Least, and he is not sure that he would say it has a strong eye-ring, either; therefore, he would guess a HY Willow Flycatcher in very fresh plumage.

On the 21st Jimmy, Nadine, Larry Hancock and Rebecca Renfro went birding around Lake Overholser and saw Semipalmated Plover and 2 Peregrine Falcons.  Alicia Riddle at Lake Arcadia observed an immature male Rufous Hummingbird at her feeders among all the crazy chasing Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

On the 23rd Garey located a Swainson ’s Hawk in Logan County, and on the 24th Dick had a Loggerhead Shrike on South Jenkins.  While at Chickasha Lake Larry Hancock observed Swainson’s Hawks, an Upland Sandpiper, plus lots of wildflowers and insects – current and future food for migrating birds. On the 26th Jan Waldrop saw a Pileated Woodpecker in her yard near 115th and Eastern.  On the 28th Jimmy and Bill Diffin birded Lake Overholser by walking out onto the mudflats in the middle of the lake where they found a Red-necked Phalarope in partial breeding plumage.  Will there be enough rain this fall for the fall flower and seed production to feed the migrants and winter residents?

During the Summer a total of 128 bird species were reported including 6 new species which increased the 2011 Central Oklahoma area total to 253 species.  I appreciate those who help provide the history of central Oklahoma birds by turning in reports.  I can be contacted by e-mail at

Esther M. Key, Editor.