Payne County listings last week for late or early migrants include Mississippi Kite, Eastern Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, and Yellow Warblers, Bell’s Vireo, Willow Flycatcher, and Baltimore Oriole. This list has increased since last year, and will continue to lengthen in the future. The most critical times are in spring when birds are breeding and may not be there to do so when insects are available to provide sustenance for young. They can only continue to go so far north until land ceases. We have received 58.4” in precipitation thus far this year, while US Climate Data shows our normal average annual precipitation at 37.29”.
Migratory movement has been increasing over the past week and with September, there will be more opportunities to observe our upcoming birds.
Last Monday brought a dozen American Avocets to Boomer Lake, pacing the lake with a dozen passes. Their aerial acrobatics were breathtaking while they swept upward on the south end, swirled back around and slowly came down again, barely staying above the water when they returned to the center of the lake. There was still a tinge of salmon in their necks, while they sported their black and white seasonal plumage. Overhead we also observed a gulp of Double-crested Cormorants on their way south.
Tuesday was not as spectacular, yet there was no reason to forego a Nashville Warbler, Pied-billed Grebes, and a couple of Barn Swallows. By last week’s end, visiting warblers made short order of the sunflower seeds scattered over Heron Cove that provided meals for two weeks to hungry visitors, while they provided insect control.
Last Wednesday Couch Park had the high warbler count, which included the Yellow, Black-and white, Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Nashville, and Northern Parula.
Midweek the Mourning Warbler was mist netted for two days in a row at Sanborn Lake.
When Friday approached, most Yellow Warblers had come through the area and eBird listed them as late rarities. Their numbers grew with those arrivals, while they were more intent upon refueling. One Black Tern also wafted up and down Boomer Lake.
Last Saturday dropped more birds into our laps with the rising barometer, including Belted Kingfisher, Pied-billed Grebes, Blue-winged Teal, Cooper’s Hawk, American Coots, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, one Double-crested Cormorant, and two non-breeding Forster’s Terns.
Last Sunday was met with additional Yellow Warblers and an adult male Common Yellowthroat, as well as an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron. Rounding out adventures on the west side of Heron Cove our Cooper’s Hawk attempted to outmaneuver a Belted Kingfisher, but due to size constraints, the kingfisher was the clear victor. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are feeling the effects of Zugunruhe, some of which made the attempt to drive off a Great Egret, also around the southwestern jetty. Even though we are in the throes of migration, the flycatchers still have another month with us. If their testosterone levels are still this high, it could explain why we are getting numbers of both early and late songbird migrants with singing males.
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.