Last week’s Payne County rare birds were excellent with more additions. 

Another Red Crossbill was photographed at Lake Carl Blackwell and an Ovenbird counted at both a residence and Couch Park. Couch Park added in Magnolia Warbler, all last Tuesday. One or two Neotropic Cormorants were seen several times last week at Boomer Lake Park with a singing late Eastern Towhee on May 13.  

One or two Ovenbirds were heard singing at Boomer Creek, north of Boomer Lake. Last Friday the Philadelphia Vireo was both observed at Sanborn Lake, as well as an Ovenbird. On Sunday, a Veery was vocalizing at Couch Park. This Monday, this writer heard a singing Eastern Towhee at Boomer Lake Park and photographed a late Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Last brisk Monday netted us another migrant Blackpoll Warbler at Boomer Lake. As cold as fingers were, that photo had to be obtained, since the bird was low enough for good shots. There had been a little fallout the night before the front, and all birders were out looking for the spoils. Even though the pandemic caused a lot of problems, it brought out all birders to be eyes and ears, and many of these unusual migrants would likely never have been found.

Tuesday, another cool, rainy, and breezy day with wind gusts up to 31 mph brought several things in at Boomer Lake, including migrant Black Terns and a gorgeous bright Eastern Bell’s Vireo, which we had never seen before. It had been well concealed in underbrush along the lake and for a brief moment permitted a fairly decent shot. Several Spotted and Least Sandpipers were found on Shorebird Jetty, as were a couple of Forster’s Terns on a snag off the southwest jetty.  

A dozen Cliff Swallows flew across Shorebird Jetty multiple times and twice perched on the floating limb on the north side of the same jetty. Many songbirds stayed low and hidden in tight cottonwood riparian zones, like the Gray Catbird, Carolina Wren and Brown-headed Cowbird. 

Since a Red-shouldered Hawk was in flight over an east side neighborhood, Great-tailed Grackles just ushered it along more quickly with a few stabs to the back. Later that afternoon, we encountered a Western Kingbird, Northern Flicker, several Yellow Warblers, multiple Blue-winged Teal and scant Northern Shovelers and American Coots.

Friday brought another small fallout on Boomer when we caught a brief glimpse of and heard an American Redstart. For the first time, we also managed to witness the ethereal song of Swainson’s Thrush coming from the west side trees of Bald Cypress Row along water’s edge.

Last Saturday was a special day in a Westwood Elementary area neighborhood for an invitation to photograph a Barred Owlet. The parents were also in the area, and this young brancher enjoyed the notoriety of its simple existence. The beautifully landscaped yard was a songbird mecca, also attracting Tufted Titmouse, Gray Catbirds, Blue Grosbeak, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Mississippi Kite.

For more photos, view

Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.

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