There are still plenty of baby birds at Boomer Lake Park, including Red-winged Blackbirds, Great-tailed Grackles, and Green Herons still yet to be.
Baltimore Orioles are now tied to their nests, and it is hard for the mister to get away to proclaim his territory, as the feeding frenzy is on with the young. A male hadn’t been heard for nearly a fortnight until this Tuesday, which gave pause for reminding that they were still in the area.
Red-tailed Hawks have been on the outskirts of the lake, and a few adult Mississippi Kites manage to sneak out and grab a grasshopper or dragonfly or two for their young, which won’t be seen for a while yet. However, when they are seen, you might not know them, as they look so different with their juvenal plumage. You will recognize the behavior and the size, though. Parents will still be feeding them, so you will surely have a clue.
Gray Catbirds can be heard and perhaps occasionally observed within riparian brush or undergrowth. If you hear mewling, don’t be alarmed, for it isn’t one of those invasive felines. A Gray Catbird or one of their young could well be peering at you.
Shorebirds are southbound once again, so find your favorite hotspots and watch for them. Early in the month, we’ll be seeing the Spotted, Solitary, Least, Western, and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Later in the month, there will be sightings on Ruddy Turnstone, possibly Red Knot, American Avocet, Sanderling, Buff-breasted and Stilt Sandpipers, the plovers, and Wilson’s Phalarope.
Also look for the Bank Swallow, Yellow Warbler, Sedge Wren, Peregrine Falcon, and more.
Fall migration is a more leisurely trip and the first birds to come through in the fall are the failed breeders, as they had no chicks to rear. They shouldn’t be as concentrated and will be spread out a lot more. Besides the main stopover sites, bird should avail themselves over a wide variety of marshes and wetlands.
Shorebirds contain many of the longest distance migrants, including the White-rumped Sandpiper, who dropped in on us for part of a day at Boomer Lake during our record flooding from the heavy rains. This species breeds in northern Alaska and returns to Tierra del Fuego, which is at the southern tip of South America.
Some birds don’t nest in the High Arctic. Prairie Pothole breeders, like the Marbled Godwit, spend winters along the Gulf Coast. Many of these birds migrate directly overhead in Oklahoma in the spring, then winter along either the Atlantic or Pacific coast.
For those that do migrate, it is also necessary that they have plenty of fat reserves to get themselves there. The adults will leave the breeding grounds first, and this year’s hatch birds will be the last to come through, as they must be fully feathered for their first trip. They make their first southbound voyage without the guidance of adults. Imagine that!
Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.