We have been adding to the water table since our flood conditions. There is another 0.78 inches of water in Boomer Lake since we last checked a week ago. Fortunately, much of the additional rain that has been called for has not reached our area.
Rare birds for the last seven days in Payne County included the Common Loon and Bank Swallow, both at Lake Carl Blackwell. Boomer Lake counted Bank Swallow and Blackpoll Warbler, while Cushing Water Treatment Plant added Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, and Bank Swallow, and Teal Ridge ticked the very rare Least Bittern, all excellent finds for this late in the spring.
Several times last week and this week, Turkey Vultures have been harassed by both Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles. If anyone has seen pictures that circulated in the past about what appeared to be blackbirds atop larger birds between the wings, it is common practice when these birds feel their nests and young are threatened, no matter how remotely. Even though the offenders are nowhere near the nest, blackbirds are known to provide chase to any perceived suspect. What they are usually doing is trying to drive them away with a quick hit or two, not catch a ride on the backs of the birds. Nonetheless, it is a very difficult photo to obtain, and even Turkey Vultures provide interesting photos under the right circumstances.
On May 16, three fledged Eastern Bluebirds were observed with their father in the branches of a small snag. Even though they were a distance away, a photograph provided poor ID. However, it was difficult to obtain a photo of any of these young birds until the 27 and 31 of the last month, as they were high in sycamores and moving faster than the speed of light. The best shot of one of the fledged birds was on the 27 and an appropriate height with the father nearby, but not close enough to be in the same picture.
This week, we managed to locate a lone Chimney Swift, and we’ve been watching both Orchard and Baltimore Orioles for signs of young. Writer has not observed that yet, though these birds tend to be quite high in the hardwoods. Even though the nearly indestructible nests are on the far ends of branches away from the trunk, it isn’t always easy to be able to find a young bird within summer leaf cover. Nests will continue to be monitored.
There are still plenty of other nests to watch out for, which include the Northern Cardinal, American Robin, both kinds of grackles, Warbling Vireo, and all deep woodland birds like flickers and other woodpeckers. Jays also feel very comfortable in the deep woods, as does the Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and many others.
Writer has observed what could be the start of roosting behavior with Purple Martins. Oddly though, no young or fledglings have been seen or heard.
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.