The end of week action was over the Thanksgiving holidays at Lake Thunderbird in Norman, which truly gave birders something to be thankful for. Right around the dam area, we observed Red-necked, Western, Horned, and Eared Grebes, none of whom have been shy for quite a number of days.
Lake Carl Blackwell in our own county also managed to host the Red-necked Grebe and the Pacific Loon, as well. These birds were so distant in both locations, nobody was ever able to obtain a good photograph, but we do have evidence in what we were able to obtain. There were also a handful of Common Redpolls and some late Cattle Egrets. Talk about a fabulous showing.
Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City is where the Pacific Loon is more prevalent, and has been for a few years now.
Now that that has the heart pumping, go visit these areas or watch eBird for unusual sightings in your area. This is clearly not going to be the end of what nature has to offer.
There were good showings of ducks, including a Red-breasted Merganser in Payne County, as well as the usual late fall suspects for sparrows and songbirds. Thus far, it has been a good season for sparrows and may even get better.
American Pipits and Red Crossbills are still passing through, and Bobwhite Quail are making appearances, too. My understanding is that this is expected to be a good year for our bobwhite, which means that hawks will be looking for them, as well.
I’m holding out this winter for a Snowy Owl and a White-tailed Kite, if I’m lucky. Thought that I’d raise the bar a few inches. Does anyone else have any hopefuls?
This year try not to clean up too much for the winter. You might not realize it, but there are a few things that are the best when planted in the winter. There is a word of caution for “native” seeds that are from another part of the country that may not be suitable for Oklahoma. Organic heirloom seeds are best and you might get those seeds from a trusted source like nature centers, garden clubs, local seed swaps, or right in your own neighborhood. Do it for the birds, insects, and bees, either indoors or out.
Milkweed and coneflowers are best sown in fall or early spring.
Now is the time to stock up on black oil sunflower seeds, suet (you can render your own from the butcher), and dry fruit and nuts to put in the suet. http://indianapublicmedia.org/eartheats/suet-cakes-bird-food/
I used to put chunks of raw fat in a bait bag at home. You can also mix cornmeal and peanut butter and slather it on a log or dead branch in your back yard.
Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and professional photographer living in Stillwater.