Payne County rare birds for last week include multiple sightings of late Cedar Waxwings and a flyover Alder Flycatcher.
The later warm evenings have been including the Common Nighthawk, as they wander the skies in search of insects. Their sharp “peent” alerts us that they are overhead in cities, as well as over treetops and grasslands flying in graceful loops. Their flashy white patches can be observed if not too dark.
These nightjars become active as early as twilight. The male can be observed with his “booming” display flight, most likely directed at the female of the species, people, or territorial intruders. As he flies slightly above the treetops, he abruptly dives for the ground. As he comes out of the dive, his wings are flexed downward. The air rushing across the wingtips makes a deep booming or “whoosh,” similar to the sound of a race car. Due to this sound, the Common Nighthawk is known as the bullbat. Surprisingly, it is not strictly nocturnal, as it is active at dawn and dusk. During the daylight hours, it can also be observe quietly napping on a tree limb or atop a chainlink fence.
Our Green Heron youngsters have been busying themselves with branching around their nest tree. They have not been going far, but they are already proving leg agility, and they are testing their wings. Parents and helpers have been busy keeping them fed and they waste no time getting their fair share of slurry.
Eastern Kingbirds have been busy keeping their nest territory free of other tyrant flycatchers. The nest has been covered with branches and leaves and has not been directly observed, but we do know where it is. When the young fledge, they look just like a smaller version of the parents, and they will flash their crown patches more than the adult.
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have also been observed stretching their wings and showing their tropical colors at The Lowlands. They have been in the same area as the Western Kingbirds, neither of which appear to have young in the immediate area.
The Neotropic Cormorant made an appearance last Friday on one of its snags on the west side of the lake. It was alone, but we have seen up to five of the species at a time.
Over a dozen Turkey Vultures have been climbing the skies with the thermals to entertain both us and themselves, while a couple of Tufted Titmice have been procuring protein for a nestful of young, as have the Eastern Phoebes in residence.
Several Baltimore Oriole nests are with young. There is one nest that is right out in the open behind writer’s residence. The pair at that location have been living in the area for the past several years. These two are known well for their structurally sound nest building skills, as that nest has made it through some violent storms in the not-so-recent past.
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.