Upcoming migratory information for February is welcome, as I have missed our Fish Crow, Turkey Vulture, Sprague’s and American Pipit, Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal. Unfortunately, they will not be seen going through the area in all regions, but perhaps some of us can get a glimpse. Purple Martin scouts are always a welcome sign of spring and especially when they settle in for the season in March.
There’s been a lot of cloudy weather this month and a few scant birds, including one that used to be rather common over the winter, but this year has been rare. Has anyone else noticed that there have been few Yellow-rumped Warblers?
Looking at yellow-rumped eBird data and comparing it to last year’s information, there is a discrepancy, as we saw a lot more in 2018. They are still around to a lesser degree, but we must look hard. They seem to be laying low in the Deep South with apparently more conducive weather. Time will tell if they are leaving the open arms of Oklahoma for the winter, but that’s what researching what could be anomalies or trends may be about. Let’s see what we can learn in that arena in the rest of the year.
We have seen American Robin numbers increasing, some of which are what appear to be migratory groups moving through over the week, as well as Harris’s Sparrows and a few Red-winged Blackbirds.
The American Woodcock or timberdoodle, is also being observed, and if one is able to connect, this harbinger of spring has a very unusual courtship display. They can be found in wet thickets and are known for a short, buzzy “peent.” The male’s high display flight with zigzagging and banking produces a melodious sound as wind rushes through his outer primaries.
There have been more House Sparrows and they have nesting activities underway. Also increasing are the European Starlings, and even though these are both birds that some would rather not see, it is a fact of life. We are hearing more Eurasian Collared-Doves.
Sparrow numbers in general appear to be less than average, but we also tend to have sparrow years. As of the past several years, we seem to be experiencing less over the winter. Lately, it has been catch as catch can, yet LeConte’s Sparrows seem to steadily be on the move, which is good for the prairie birds. Meadowlark numbers are also increasing.
Dark-eyed Juncos and American Goldfinches seem to be moving out, and the leaf litter had been quite well picked through over the winter.
Our hawks are still with us, coming and going as they do. It was a pleasure having discovered a Cooper’s Hawk about five minutes south of a group of American Robins heading east. No doubt that the coop was seeking local fare.
We have much to look forward to observing this spring. 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.