The 1.18 inches of rain that we received toward the end of last week’s workweek is still with us. It was a hard rain that will go to good use this spring as it always does. Cooler temperatures have been a good sign, even though we have had to don those jackets in the mornings more than we would like.
Payne County rare birds have been exploding with lots of interesting species, numbers having changed positively over the past couple of years. It will only become more common as time passes, so get out there to observe and be a valuable part of eBird stats. Over the past week, we have located the late Snow Goose, Piping Plover, Song Sparrow, and possible Dark-eyed Junco. The late Song Sparrow has had multiple sightings all over the county, which likely was some of last year’s very late clutches.
We have been seeing a wide extravaganza of many wonderful early and late species, especially during the recent cold snaps that we have experienced and could well be finding in our midst yet again. The weather is in flux, so we’ll be finding more rain and violent storms as time progresses. Hopefully, the birds can handle this without too many negative consequences.
The skies have been filled with many black birds this year. Some of these birds have been so far distant, those are the best descriptions that many birders are able to give. If we recall last year when COVID-19 first arrived last March, so many of us had empty work weeks and we were able to bird much more often, so it appeared that many more birds were at our disposal. They truly were, as much of humanity was not sharing in their disruption. This year, we are finding the fruits of many more breeding birds that experienced much-need peace and quiet.
Observers may be noticing that there are many more Cliff Swallows at roost and nesting sites this year. Barn Swallows have been losing appropriate habitat for a number of years, and predators are on the rise. If property owners have the opportunity to erect nest boxes near or in suitable habitat, it is greatly needed. For more information, visit www.allaboutbirds.com
We have been finding good numbers of Spotted Sandpipers, Ruddy Ducks, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Western and Eastern Kingbirds, Warbling Vireo, Fish Crow, Baltimore Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird, Common and Great-tailed Grackles, Yellow Warbler, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and many more as we speak.
With the excess water from the recent rain that has nowhere to go right now, it will be a good haven for migratory sandpipers and others that need either a short respite or somewhere to come down to get out of the weather. Use these opportunities to discreetly observe them.
Included in this week’s column is last week’s Eared Grebe in breeding plumage that many have not had the chance to see.
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.