Payne County rare birds of the week included the American Bittern at Teal Ridge on Tuesday, March 23, as well as a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron on 32nd St. between Sangre and Western Rds., on March 26, Neotropic Cormorant and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Boomer Lake Park and an Osprey on March 28 also at Boomer Lake. This is a good March start thus far.
This week on March 29, we discovered a pair of Carolina Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers on Heron Cove that appeared to be vying for the same possible nest cavity hole. Oddly enough, it was clearly chickadee sized, but the female downy attempted to lay claim to it, pulling out a couple of bills full of chips making it more suited to her size. Sorry, dear lady, that trunk is too thin for your countenance.
Half a dozen Fish Crows gathered for their general meeting on Memorial Cove before they made a rapid swirling dispersal, but not until Tree and Barn Swallows stood up to be counted. We later discovered a gorgeous male flyover Yellow-headed Blackbird, who seemed to come from the general area of the martin house at Heron Cove. A pair of Purple Martins were making raucous calls as the blackbird passed by, though it had no intentions to crash their small house party and continued west from there, all on March 30.
Sanborn Lake counted Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls, Turkey Vultures, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Eastern Bluebird, Pine Siskins, Field, Harris’s, White-throated, and Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhee, and Eastern Meadowlark.
Couch Park shared the Barred Owl, Brown Thrasher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Chipping Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Black-and-White and Yellow-rumped Warblers, as well as Northern Parula. An American Crow was seen carrying nesting material, which is getting to be more common.
Also on Wednesday the final day of March, Teal Ridge chimed in with Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebes, Little Blue Heron, Red-bellied Woodpecker, an Eastern Phoebe on occupied nest, Song and Lincoln’s Sparrows, multiple Red-winged Blackbirds, and too many Brown-headed Cowbirds. Whittenberg Park shared Barn Swallows, American Goldfinch, slate-colored Dark-eyed Juncos, and Vesper and Savannah Sparrows. Boomer Lake Park counted several Lesser Scaups, Bald Eagle, Fish Crows, and two dozen Common Grackles. We also shared several sightings of finely breeding plumaged Double-crested Cormorants as they made their way across the center of the Boomer Lake flyway, all highlighted with those beautiful, bright orange hooked bills.
Let this serve as a reminder to get our birdbaths, houses, and hummingbird feeders all spic and span and shiny for this new season. Chances are excellent that we’ll be getting more early arrivals and we hope to be ready for those beautiful flying jewels when they arrive in need enroute to their breeding destinations. Stock up on immediate seed requirements, and remember that the red on hummingbird feeders is enough to draw their attention, not any red food coloring which is unnecessary and likely harmful to their needs.
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.