Stillwater News Press


May 1, 2014

DEB HIRT'S LIFE AT BOOMER LAKE: Lake home to bald eagle family

Editor’s note: This is the debut of a new column in the News Press – Life at Boomer Lake, by Deb Hirt. Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and professional photographer living in Stillwater. Half of her wildlife photo sales are returned to the birds via the Payne County Audubon Society. She can be found wandering around Boomer Lake on almost a daily basis monitoring the wild bird population. Look for her column each Sunday in the News Press.

Boomer Lake is filling with new life, for there are several Canada goose families with goslings. To me, this is the first significant sign of spring when the circle of life begins again.  Even though we are a couple of weeks late for migration, it is still underway, and surprisingly, we even have a few early birds (I know, but it is literal) like the great egret.

For those of you that like to be kept in the know, this is the first year that we have actually hosted the bald eagle. This pair has at least one chick and there is enough fishing going on in the northern reaches to keep the smaller birds out of there.

The Parks Department has added several purple martin houses around the lake, and this will attract more of these birds, which are wonderful guests to have around water.  One of their prime food sources is the mosquito, and even though they can’t manage to eradicate them all, there will be a significant difference in this pest population.

Many of the ducks have already departed for all points north for breeding purposes, and there is a very strong possibility that we might also host a blue-winged teal family. This is important news, for Boomer Lake has never had these ducklings in residence to my knowledge, and I will definitely be watching for signs of the blessed event.

Goose Island is almost to capacity with new residents, and it is at the point where many melees are occurring. I witnessed several large melees on Wednesday morning, and it will only continue until the young ones are all hatched. Then we will lose a few youngsters, even with good parents and scouts, for the single males have an interest in doing harm to the little ones. Nature has its good points, as well as its bad ones, and these are just one of the things that we must make do with.

The northern cardinal population showed an increase just prior to spring, which has actually proven itself to be long term. There are many more of these gorgeous red birds residing both on the lake and in the vicinity.

For you lepidopterists, there are hordes of butterflies on the lake, including the viceroy, skipper and swallowtail, which I have seen out in droves. If you are able to add milkweed to your yards or already have it, it is crucial for the monarch butterfly to sustain itself in early life as a food source.  These butterflies are still in crisis due to freezing temperatures in Mexico killing them while they are overwintering there.

If you’re on the lake when I am out and about, please stop to introduce yourself, and I will be happy to answer any questions regarding birds and how to help them proliferate. I hope to meet you soon, and keep your eyes to the ground and your head in the clouds.  

Happy birding until next week!


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