Sunday, October 31, 2010
Lucy Park Circle Trail near the park entrance.
I love the woods in the fall, so decided to go to Lucy Park for my Sunday bird walk. Am I glad I did.
Lucy Park is always a bit of a crap shoot for birds. Sometimes you don't see much and other times you hit the jackpot. Today I consider a jackpot day.
In Lucy Park it's guaranteed you will hear lots of cardinals, blue jays and robins. That held true this morning. I was happy when the first bird I saw was a Cooper's Hawk on a bare branch along the Circle Trail. I saw a second Cooper's later in the rear part of the park. I passed through a flock of Carolina Chickadees a little later. At my favorite intersection in Lucy Park I saw and heard a brown creeper. It has been a few years since I have seen a brown creeper--and if I am not mistaken, the last one I saw was also in Lucy Park. I wanted a better look but the tree the bird was using was in a patch of poison ivy. Although I haven't had much problem with poison ivy in the past, I felt that walking through a large patch of it on purpose was tempting fate more than was wise. I would have been happy at this point if I hadn't seen another bird.
A little further down, I passed an area with a lot of underbrush and heard some little birds. I decided to stop and try pishing. Some birds seem to find pishing irresistable. Sure enough, out popped four golden-crowned warblers, two chipping sparrows and a cardinal to see what the crazy birder was up to.
Down by the canoe launch I found my first flock of juncos of the season. I was coming back around to my truck at the entrance and heard a red-bellied woodpecker so I checked out one of the snags nearby and found two red-breasted nuthatches. It doesn't get much better than this.
In addition to the birds mentioned above, other birds seen this morning included: mallard, Canada goose, northern mockingbird, rock pigeon, white-winged dove, mourning dove, Eurasian collared dove, common grackle, great-tailed grackle, red-bellied woodpecker, northern flicker, house finch, and starling.
It looks like the last of the scissor-tailed flycatches have left. I haven't seen any in a few days.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I went down to Wild Bird's Unlimited at Smith's Gardentown. A little pricier, but high quality food. Many birders go for the cheap stuff like below. You can buy this seed very inexpensively, but don't.
How do you tell which seed to buy? If you're buying a mixed seed, choose one with as little milo as possible (see the round brown seeds in the picture to the left? That's milo.)
Milo is cheap and relatively light and large, so it is a good filler. However, the birds don't care for it much. If you have a lot of milo in your seed mix, you may think the birds love it because it disappears so quickly. What is happening is the birds are digging through the seed, throwing out the milo and picking out the good stuff they like. You end up with a lot of seed on the ground, leading to mold (unhealthy), more food to attract mice and rats, and relatively little of the seed going into your birds' stomachs. I'm not saying birds don't eat any of the milo; if they are very hungry and food is scarce in the middle of the winter, they will eat more of it. I'm just saying if I am going to spend money on bird food, I want it to end up in their stomachs, not on the ground.
I suggest if you are not familiar with the mix you are buying, try to buy food in a bag you can see some of the mix to evaluate the amount of milo and choose the mix with the least. Atwoods on Loop 11 has a reasonably good mix for a good price, if you want to spend less money. When I am going through tons of mix in the winter, I often do buy some to keep the hit on my wallet down.
Anyway, I went to Wild Birds Unlimited as they have a 15% off sale on bird food until October 31 and got black oil sunflower, millet and peanuts without the shell. I decided to try out the Savers Card for $25, figuring I would save that much over the course of the feeder season. That got me an additional 5% off on the food on sale. That was nearly an additional $6. Since I am predisposed toward not liking to pay for a savers card, I am going to keep a spreadsheet to see if the card is worth the money and will let you know when I at least break even. You can see my haul to the left--the expensive bit was the bag of peanuts. But that one bag will likely be the only one I will need to buy this year.
I also started my Christmas shopping. Wild Birds Unlimited has some really cute bird Christmas ornaments that are very inexpensive as well as other gift ideas for the birders on your shopping list. If you know a birder and are stumped for gift ideas, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or wait for an upcoming post with gift ideas and links.
Anyway, time to unload, fill up the two feeders I am running right now, and then back to the workday (sigh.)
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I took only a short walk along the chat trail down to the barrow pit. The most notable thing was the number of Eastern Phoebe along the trail. It is not uncommon to see/hear one or two, but this morning there were several phoebes along the trail.
The cardinals have also started to gather into their winter flocks. One flock of approximately a dozen birds was moving from tree to tree.
The barrow pit was full of waterfowl--mostly American Coot and American Wigeon, although there were some pied-billed grebes and ruddy ducks as well.
Summer birds still hanging around were scissor-tailed flycatchers and a lone barn swallow.
Other birds noted this morning were: White pelican, robins, blue jay, Eurasian collared dove, white-winged dove, rock pigeon, great-tailed grackle, and starling.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Terry McKee will present a short program on owls. The group will also begin planning for the Christmas Bird Count to take place on Saturday, December 18. Light refreshments will be served.
If you want to learn more about the birds and birding places in the area, this is the place to be. It's a small group, so visitors should not feel intimidated as sometimes happens with larger groups.
Our group doesn't tough it out as long as many Big Sit groups, so we don't normally have big numbers of birds. However, the group did have some good ones. According to Terry McKee, birds sighted included: mallard, Canada geese, ruby-crowned kinglet, great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, yellow-crowned night heron, robin, yellow-shafted flicker, double-crested cormorant, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, killdeer, Eurasian collared dove, white-winged dove, chimney swift, barn swallow, cardinal, northern mockingbird, scissor-tailed flycatcher, common grackle, great-tailed grackle and red-winged blackbird.
Sounds like a good time. Maybe next year I'll be home!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Project Feederwatch is a citizen science project sponsored by the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University. This is one of several citizen science projects that takes data gathered by volunteers and consolidates it for use by researchers.
Feederwatch season starts November 13 and runs through April 8. I'll be cleaning all of my feeders over the next few weeks and stocking up on bird food in preparation. Not that I have to wait for the PFW season to officially start to put up feeders and watch birds, but there's nothing like the excuse that I "have" to watch for birds for my reports.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I took a short walk in Lake Wichita Park this morning looking for migrants. It was a cool morning--it finally feels and smells like fall.
At the entrance of the chat trail was a herd of 6 white-tailed deer that watched me very closely for several minutes until they got too nervous and turned tail back into the woods.
The ducks are beginning to come in. On the barrow pit the were hundreds of waterfowl: American coot, redhead ducks, American wigeon, mallard ducks, pied-billed grebes, and a single Wilson's snipe (one of my favorite birds.)
The turkey vultures are also on the move with a few dozen birds flying over this morning.
I also saw my first northern flickers of the fall--two yellow-shafted flickers flying over and another flicker perching on the lights of the football field.
Other birds seen this morning: scissor-tailed flycatcher, blue jay, cardinal, red-winged blackbird, great blue heron (an immature that caught two fish while I watching), Eurasian collared dove, mourning dove, robin, double-crested cormorant, killdeer, common grackle, great-tailed grackle, and European starling.
"Dr. Masakazu (Mark) Konishi from Caltech, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, will be on the OU campus next week to give two lectures on the two fields he pioneered. He will speak on "The Science of Birdsong" at the Sam Noble Museum Tuesday, October 6 at 7 PM (reception following) and will give a presentation on "How Owls Catch Prey in the Dark" in George Lynn Cross Hall 123, Wednesday, October 6 at 4:30 PM. Both are free and open to the public."