Sunday, May 29, 2016

Birds at the Head of the Class

                                                                     Green Heron

                                                         Fledgling Red-winged Blackbird

                                                            Male Great-tailed Grackle

                                                               Female Orchard Oriole

                                                                 Neotropic Cormorants

                                                                   Turkey Vulture

0700-1112 hrs./68-86 degrees F/partly cloudy/8 mph SE winds

It was a beautiful day, but the air was filled with excess humidity.  Even many of the birds
stayed in the recesses of the deeper woods.  What birds managed to come out were out early,
and they returned to the shade as soon as they could.

However, parenting forces birds to feed their young and when they call, an alarm goes off
and they are fed like clockwork.  There were two little Red-winged Blackbirds, and the oldest
did its best to follow its father, but the young one in the tree didn't move while I was there.

The female Orchard Oriole has a nest and was getting a little nectar at the local trumpet vine.
Across the street was a calling White-winged Dove, which isn't in these parts much.  With any
luck, I'll be on the other side of the bird tomorrow and get a passable photo, instead of a sun-
drenched one.

The wooded area off the creek has several Prothonotary Warblers, one of which is reasonably
friendly.  I've ben trying to get a better shot, and I hope that I will be able to do so.  There are
also three Red-headed Woodpeckers, and a Great-crested Flycatcher that I'd love to capture.
Perhaps this will be the year for it, but I won't be greedy, as I've been very fortunate this season.

This Turkey Vulture was feeling g his oats today and gave me this fabulous opportunity, which
made me happy.

052916 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Short But Productive Birding Day

                                                                  Great Blue Heron

                                                                     Mallard Drake

                                                Plain-bellied Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster)

                                                                     Brown Thrasher

                                                           Juvenile American Robin

                                                            Male Great-tailed Grackle

                                                          Juvenile Great-tailed Grackle

                                                                 Cottontail Rabbit

May 26, 2016

0710-0919/77-80 degrees F/partly to mostly cloudy//17 mph S wind gusts/82% rel. humidity

It felt like 85 degrees F and there was high humidity, making me sweat earlier than 0900 hrs.
However, there were young birds to capture, and one must take photos when the weather is
appropriate in order not to miss what there is to offer.

The snag that Great Blue Heron is standing upon is on that recently came down from one of
many storms.  This Mallard Drake also happened to be upon it, as was a Mallard hen with
four ducklings, and a few Red-eared Slider turtles, a good sized tree limb.

One of many non-poisonous water snakes, this little beauty was sunning and allowed me a quick
shot.  I have photographed some double the size, as well as the venomous Water Moccasin in TX.

The grackles, thrasher, and robins were located at The Southern Cove, which hosts many other birds, including breeding Green Herons (third year), Baltimore Orioles, Warbling Vireos, and provided temporary residence for a lovely Swainson's  Thrush.

Due to the weather rapidly changing, I cut my visit short to avoid getting rained upon.  By the way,
this very young cottontail rabbit told me to tell you "hello."

New Six Pack Holder Won't Harm Animals

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Babies and a Bird's Circle of Life

                                                      Juvenile(juvenal) American Robin

                                                Recently Fledged Red-winged Blackbird

                                                          Immature Great-tailed Grackle

                                                                     Bell's Vireo

                                                                  Eastern Meadowlark

67-82 degrees F/0738-1018 hrs./12-15 mph wind gusts/partly cloudy

The weather has not been very co-operative over the past couple of weeks, for there has been
heavy cloud cover in the early morning or rain.  The sun poked through the clouds relatively early,
so I ran out the door in hopes of getting a few photos.

As luck would have it, several of my first-seen of the day were young birds, which I have been
hoping for.  For those of you that have never seen a young American Robin, this is a good example
of the spotted breast, which clearly shows that it is in the thrush family.

This recently fledged(not long out of the nest) Red-winged Blackbird was seen hiding in the weeds,
waiting for a parent to return with food.

This Great-tailed Grackle is an immature bird with feathers that denote it still as a young bird, but it still doesn't have the feathers of an adult.  Note the bill, which is a good clue on the fact that this is
a bird in the grackle family.  The tail is still a little short for an adult, the gape(mouth) still shows some yellow, and it is out in the open awaiting a parent to provide food.  This bird is old enough not to draw attention to itself in order to attract a predator, like a hawk.

This lovely example of a Bell's Vireo is a singing male.  Normally these birds remain in a dense shrub
or in the leaves of a tree, which tells me that this bird is actively seeking a mate or doesn't yet have
any offspring.  This vireo was observed at the tops of trees at three different short-spaced occasions
on this morning.

This Eastern Meadowlark has been singing in the vicinity for quite some time.  He had attracted a female several weeks ago, but the field where he and his mate had been trying to nest had been mowed once already.  Either something happened to her, or she simply disappeared for whatever
reason, so he is still trying to find a female to mate with.

This is the time to be aware of young birds on the ground, so do watch where you step, even if on a
sidewalk.  Also be aware that an adult bird is watching the young bird, so please don't take it away
thinking that it has been abandoned.  Unless you are certain that this bird has been unattended for several hours, do NOT intervene.  If you see the young bird covered with ants, DO take action and seek the help of a licensed rehabilitator.  The ants will eat that bird alive.

For assistance in locating a rehabilitation, contact your local veterinarian or a warden.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How To Prevent Ants on Your Hummingbird Feeders

More Rare Neotropic Cormorants Are on the Homefront

                                                          Adult Female Orchard Oriole

                                                               Neotropic Cormorant
                                                                  Breeding Plumage

                                                           Juvenile Neotropic Cormorant

                                                         Juvenile Neotropic Cormorants

                                                                    Canada Goose
                                                                 "King of the Hill"

                                                                 Willow Flycatcher

80-86 degrees F/1500-1820 hrs./partly cloudy/15 mph SE wind gusts

A couple of us had been wondering about some of the cormorants that we'd been observing,
and both came to the same conclusion, but didn't dare to speak up that these were all Neotropic
Cormorants.  I last photographed them together six days prior, but hadn't had the opportunity to
look at the photographs.

They were all observed again, yesterday, and I got better shots than on that cloudy day, and am
confident enough to say that they all ARE Neotropic Cormorants.  The breeding adult is easy to
identify, but the juveniles are a little tougher.  However, the clincher is the bill and surrounding area.
The juvenile nootropics also possess dark lores, whereas the more common Double-crested Cormorant has orange lores.  All juveniles described are first year birds.  Juvenile nootropics also have a dark breast, and the Double-crested variety has a light breast.  Unless one looks quite hard for this, they will be missed, so from now on, look closely at your cormorants, or you could miss a real
find like these.

The Orchard Orioles have moved in, including the young birds from last year.  There is one that
has been calling in a tree that belongs to some Eastern Kingbirds, who don't chase the oriole away.
They will remove other birds expediently, like the Northern Mockingbird, who is not a neotropical

Another welcome guest that will be staying a while is the Willow Flycatcher, the above photo.  We
also host the Least, Alder, Great-crested, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers at Boomer Lake.

There are still plenty of young Canada Geese with more on the way.  Both parents have been off the nests on warm days, so it is easy to observe the large, white eggs while they procure food for themselves.

052216 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rare Birds Are Still Gracing Payne County in Oklahoma

                                                                Red-bellied Woodpecker

                                                                  Spotted Sandpiper

                                                                   Great Blue Heron

                                                         First Spring Hooded Merganser

                                                                   Swainson's Thrush

                                                                 Eastern Kingbird

                                                             Neotropic Cormorant


0900-1300 hrs./58-68 degrees F/partly to mostly cloudy/15 mph wind gusts

The day before the rain provided a good showing at Boomer Lake, namely the Neotropic Cormorant
who visited me between the northern jetty and Goose Island on the east side of the lake.  This bird
arrived approximately a month ago, and has been with us ever since, which has been the first spring
it has ever been at the lake.  Also, two first spring Hooded Mergansers dropped right in front of me
on the north side of the lake closer to the shore near the northern part of Goose Island.  Nonetheless,
even though the Hooded Merganser can be in the area this time of year, they will most likely be resident birds.  Normally, these birds are in the area only during the winter, so it is quite exceptional.

The remainder of the birds were photographed off Boomer Creek in the deeply wooded area.  The
Swainson's Thrush was heard calling prior to the sighting, and there were also several warblers seen
and heard in the area, including the Prothonotary and Blackpoll Warblers.  If you look hard at the Red-bellied Woodpecker, you'll see its long tongue protruding from its bill, which is how it gets all those delicious ants and termites.

It is expected to be good weather on Wednesday, so it is likely that more birds could be arriving in the
area, but until then, the current visitors are probably not going anywhere.

The Spotted Sandpiper, the Red-bellied Woodpecker and the Red-headed Woodpecker are all at home
in the Boomer Creek area, as well as the stately Pileated Woodpecker.  There is no question that these
birds are all raising youngsters.  Hopefully, I might be able to spot a nest cavity tree, even in the thick woods.  Time will tell.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Oklahoma's First Summer Birds Are Coming In

                                                                    Brown Thrasher

                                                                  Carolina Chickadee

                                                                     Eastern Phoebe

                                                                   Mourning Dove

                                                               Female Orchard Oriole
                                                                      1st Summer

                                                            Three-toed Box Turtle

These shots are a couple of days old.  The third wave of migratory birds is coming in, the
birds that were born last year.  They get the secondary territory, which goes in a general pecking order.  The top quality adult males, which are usually the oldest, come in from Central and South America first.  Most of them choose last year's territory if it provided what was needed last year.  A couple of weeks later, most of the adult females come into the area, and choose a mate, based on natural selection, as well as a choice territory.  Then last year's first year birds arrive to get what is left over.  The female Orchard Oriole pictured above is seeking a mate right now.  She was with another
female yesterday.

Oklahoma has two indigenous box turtles.  I have photographed both of them.  Besides the Three-
toed Box Turtle, we are also home to the Ornate Box Turtle.  There are also several other water
turtles, like the Red-eared Slider, the Snapping Turtle, and more that I'll try to locate.

Migration is still going strong, and once we get past this cold snap and the upcoming rain, we'll
see more of them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Birds of McCurtain County, Oklahoma, Including the Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker

                                                                         Tree Swallow

                                                                    Carolina Wren

                                                                  Great-tailed Grackle

                                                               Prothonotary Warbler

                                                                       King Rail

                                                              Brown-headed Nuthatch

                                                              Broad-winged Hawk

                                                             Yellow-breasted Chat

                                                                       White Ibis

                                                            Red-cockaded Woodpecker

                                                                American Alligator

                                                                      Tree Swallow

May 6 through May 10, 2016

These birds and the American alligator all hail from McCurtain County, Oklahoma, which is
in the southeast part of the state, just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Arkansas border.  This trip
had very strong possibilities for two of some of the rarest birds of the state, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Swainson's Warbler, both of which were seen.  However, I have no photo of the warbler.  I do hope to redeem myself with the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, which is rare all over the country, as well as an endangered species.

Also included in this package, is the King Rail, which is uncommon and local in the southern states.  Even more rarely, it will go quite far north, mostly in the central part of the country and the northeast

McCurtain County also hosts a fairly sizable and diverse warbler population, though a good part of it is just temporary.  Most of these warblers were observed at Red Slough, as well as a few in Little River, most notably of course, the Swainson's Warbler.

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker was located in the McCurtain County Wilderness Area, and my knowledge on this bird was increased by being in the field with it as well as having excellent instruction through the Oklahoma Forestry Service, namely Clay Barnes, who I definitely hope to see
again, and gain additional knowledge through the state and the national wildlife refuges, all who do
a superb job in keeping our wildlife thriving.  I have seen naked nestling Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, as well as the eggs.

This is an experience that I will not soon forget, and I hope that you also enjoy what is here as seen through my eyes.