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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Monday January 6, 2014

Updated on January 6, 2014
Snow Goose(Rear) with Ross's Goose(Front)
Snow Goose(Rear) with Ross's Goose(Front) | Source

Field Notes

Ross's Goose vs. Snow Goose

Do you know how to tell the difference between the Ross’s Goose and the Snow Goose? No? Our Tulsa World, here in Tulsa, OK, explains that very basically here

Birding More Popular than Golf!

In Ashland, OR, the Christmas Bird Count was very popular. As a matter of fact, birding is more popular in that area than golf, of all things. Birding provides recreation, as well as some good exercise. Why not get in on this popular sport? Sport, you say? Better believe it!

Winter Birding Festival in Wilcox, AZ

If you’re going to be in Willcox, AZ between January 15-19, you might be interested in AZ’s only winter birding festival. There will be some fabulous day long tours, including photographic opportunities. Get your reservations in NOW, as some of these tours are already full.

Sandy Komito
Sandy Komito

2013 Big Year Champion

Remember The Big Year, that 2011 movie? According to USA Today, there are some serious competitions for birders as far as who can see the most birds in one year, or even in a lifetime. Don’t let this fool you, as it is a huge honor. The current Big Year champion is Sandy Komito for 2013, who also was the reigning champ in 2011. Could it be you, next year? Even the youngsters are getting in on the bandwagon, so you’re going to have to work hard. For more, see the article at

Get Your Own!

Ice Formation under Dirt Ledge
Ice Formation under Dirt Ledge | Source

Weather Alert!

Not only is this an irruptive year, but for pity’s sake, the weather can’t make up it’s mind. On Saturday, it was in the 50’s, and now we are looking at the teens with wind chills in the negative numbers. This is dangerous weather for animals, as much as it is for us. Keep your feeders stocked when there is snow on the ground, and provide a source of water for our avian friends. They will say thank you in the most important ways—they will be there for you to see and enjoy.

Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco | Source

Dark-eyed Juncos

The Dark-eyed Juncos have been around this week. These fast little dark and white sparrows are also called ice birds. They generally feed on weed seeds, and have numerous subspecies, liked gray-headed, pink-sided, white-winged, slate-colored, and the Oregon.

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird | Source

Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird was also spotted, and these little beauties prefer open country, namely roadsides, farms, and scattered trees. Many of them have also retired to the Northern Reaches for the quiet and solitude that the area has to offer. It is also more sheltered from the weather, with plenty of good food to be had.

Downy Wodpecker
Downy Wodpecker | Source

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker, two thirds of the size of the Hairy Woodpecker, prefers the same areas, especially deciduous trees. They can be attracted with suet cakes, and enjoy bugs. They often travel along a tree trunk upside down, like many other woodpeckers or nuthatches.

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee | Source

Carolina Chickadee

This is another wonderful little bird that is very similar to the Black-capped Chickadee that I knew up north. From twenty years experience, there are only a few difference between the two. The carolina has a faster call that is slightly higher pitched, has less white on the edges of the wing coverts, and has more white on the side of the head and neck. Both varieties love being around feeders!

American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is also on the move, enjoying thistle(nyger or niger) and favors black oil sunflower seeds. If you have any of these seeds at home, they will frequent your yard.

Ross's Goose Amid Cackling Geese
Ross's Goose Amid Cackling Geese | Source

Ross's Goose with Cackling Geese

I observed a flock of close to one hundred twenty-five Cackling Geese with a lone Ross’s Goose yesterday. As well as what the Tulsa World Article has to say, there are other ways to tell this snow-white bird from the Snow Goose. Not only is the Snow Goose Larger, it has a longer neck, a black outline around the mouth, and does not have such a stubby bill. The Ross’s Goose also has a bluish, warty border between the base of the bill and the feathers, but that can be more difficult to see.

These Cackling Geese were in the area at roughly 2:30 in the afternoon, and I would suspect that they came in directly from the north, where food is now lacking. They were very tired, hungry and skittish. The first time that I tried to photograph, they flew off for a short time, and upon their return, I crawled with my camera to a sheltered area in order to obtain this photo for you. I believe that they will be on their way again soon enough until the weather breaks. All waterways that were not moving this morning were frozen solid.

I have seen Great Blue Heron, a couple of Belted Kingfishers, plenty of Mallards and Canvasbacks over the week, and the Buffleheads. The Bald Eagle Pair is still visiting the Northern Reaches, and will be less likely to wait for the ice to melt before hunger calls. However, that is the voice of nature, and we all must eat.

Goodbye for the time being, and keep your eyes to the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding until next week. Keep your cameras and binoculars handy to record any unusual sightings. The Snowy Owl has made it all the way to Florida, so chances are quite good that you might be able to obtain photos of this majestic owl in the Deep South. Stay safe in the cold weather, and dress appropriately.

Where's Boomer Lake?

Canada Geese
Canada Geese | Source
Deb Hirt
Deb Hirt | Source
Source

© 2014 Deb Hirt

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      So glad to hear it, Idana. You can now find them on the e-edition of the Stillwater News Press as well as The Oklahoman newspapers

    • profile image

      Idana 2 years ago

      Keep these arieclts coming as they've opened many new doors for me.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad to hear it, David. If you like nature, see more at: http://debhirt.blogspot.com

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      David 2 years ago

      Great perspective! I love gniivg the kids the camera to see what they come up with. We gave my son the camera on a family reunion trip a few years ago and he got some of the best pictures of the week!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I think you sent this to me in error, Dave.

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      Dave 2 years ago

      I have a metal Slumber King box spring frame nmbuers on it are 4 FT 6 or G. The spring looks like cast metal with flat metal slats that are connected with a bunch of small springs. Do you have any information on the age of this product and whether or not there is a market for it? Thanks

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Peg. Performances have been quite good, as of late, on the avian frontier!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Another enjoyable look at bird life, Deb. You really got some good ones here. I think they're better than many of the pics in my birding field book. Beautiful horse too.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Exactly, Mary. Birds can detect a change in air pressure, so they know when the weather is going to change. It is just like built-in radar.

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      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Our black capped chickadees and goldfinch are flocking the feeders. We always know when the weather is going to get bad (snow, rain) because they really crowd in then. We have more house finch than anything else but love the little hint of red they carry.

      What a magnificent horse! I know of all the things in your birding hub I mention the horse but with a photo like that who can blame me?

      Voted all but funny.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I don't think a Snow Goose would want to do that. They will honk loudly and keep you up all night.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 3 years ago

      I'm not sure how or why i'm missing these!

      for some reason - i'm not getting the email from hubpages...grrrrr...

      In any case - i know where to come to find them - unless you can give me a head's up?

      It's been a little crazy in my hood...lol

      HUGS sweet friendxx

      ps..i want a snow goose! He could sleep right under my head! LOL

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Mel! The refuge provided a good bit of action, I see. Many of your birds I have not seen around here. I'll get to the west coast eventually for birding.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, cygnet! Good always to hear from a neighbor. Take care of your birds...

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      I have seen Juncos on the ice up in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, so the name makes sense. I love those birds. We have the Oregon variety, for the most part.

      I finally got out to the TWR refuge about a week ago and although my pictures aren't worth sharing (I only had my iPhone camera), here is my bird list for that little expedition I made with my son:

      1. Anna’s hummingbird 2. American Kestrel 3. Killdeer 4. Western Meadowlark 5. White-Crowned Sparrow 6. Kingfisher 7. Willet 8. Marbled Godwit 9. Long-billed Curlew 10. Great Egret 11. Avocet 12. American Widgeon 13. Bufflehead 14. Black-necked Stilt 15. Northern Harrier 16. Say’s Phoebe 17. Pintail 18. Snowy Egret 19. Whimbrel 20. Common Goldeneye 21. Mallard 22. Clapper Rail 23. Beldings Savannah Sparrow

      The new bird for me was a lone female Common Goldeneye swimming among a little flock of Bufflehead. She looked lost and lonely. It wasn't as impressive an assortment as I've seen out there, and I was disappointed not to find any Green-winged or Cinnamon Teal, which are usually very common.

      Happy Birding. Keep the faith.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      I live in Springfield, MO which is really not that far from you, which means that I see most of the birds here that you have there. You have a lot of interesting information concerning birds! Thank you so much. I will certainly keep coming back again and again.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Connie. It takes a lot of caloric intake to battle the effects of shivering.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Deb, what you say about providing lots of food and open water for the birds, especially when it is so frigid, is very important. I was definitely worried about my birds when the temperature went to 11 below zero last week. It was amazing to see so many crowding the feeders. I even had to put out more bird seed during the day! I restocked the suet and peanut butter feeders that day as well. I'm guessing it all helped to keep them from freezing at night.

      Love the beautiful white goose as well as the cackling geese. Awesome pics my friend ;) Connie

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Suhail, it is wonderful to hear that so many people have a concern about our wildlife and environment. If I have made a small difference in people doing this, it makes me happy. Hope that your hike is fruitful. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Nell! Glad to hear that you have some wonderful life right in your general vicinity. Perhaps this will give you something to write about. If you choose to do so, please take some pics.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Interesting read about 3 different types of geese and am I glad to read that birding is more popular than golf or what! And then those pictures are beautiful as always.

      I am really honoured to know that so many of us hubbers are writing on wildlife, nature conservation, and environment. I believe we will be able to make a difference and leave our mark for generations to come.

      Btw, I will be going out tomorrow on a whole day hike and see if any birds continued their residency in our woods and lakes after that ice storm followed by the Polar Vortex.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi Deb, what amazing photos this week! well they always are, but these are outstanding! I have been keeping an eye on our Red Kites, they seem to be really busy in their nests at the moment and I believe there will be the patter of tiny feet pretty soon! its really exciting! I don't even have to step out my back door to see them, but the balcony is great to just sit and watch them! Great hub!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Bill, this is truly a remarkable year for a lot of things. You'll find out more in the next column.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Deb. Great photos this week. I'm still looking for a snowy owl here. Most of the sightings have been near Boston and along the shore. I did see the pictures of the sightings in Florida. Amazing.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Pamela! There are photographers that also crawl through the much and the mire, that can barely see, covered with a camouflage blanket to get photos. I guess I am following in their footsteps.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Alicia! Glad that you enjoy the photos and the column. There should be more new things in store.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      You crawled with your camera to get the photo of the cackling geese. Wow, you are amazing. It's got to be so cold there. And they were skittish, hungry and tired? You've really brought the reality of the moment to us. Thank you. Up, beautiful and sharing.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This was an interesting read, as always, Deb. It's very enjoyable to read about birds that I see where I live, or to read about their close relatives that visit Boomer Lake. Of course, it's also enjoyable to see their photographs!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Exactly, teaches! No animal deserves to try to weather this alone. They need all the help that they can get. Shivering produces heat, and extra food helps a great deal.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Eddy! Glad that you enjoyed the lake this week, and next week, you will see some additional visitors. Do stay tuned!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The South has been seeing quite a bit of cold, Dave. It has been rough in OK, too.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      ChitrangadaSharan, thanks for viewing. Snow is easier for some birds than others. It is especially tough for fish eaters when the water is frozen, then then have to hope for mice.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I just love that last photo of the horse, what a beauty! Deb, I am glad you mentioned the need to watch out for the birds during this cold spell. I remember when we had ducks, we brought them inside and put them in the basement to keep them warm.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another inspiring visit to Boomer lake.

      Eddy.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another amazing hub by you from my much loved Boomer Lake.I feel by now that I am, a visitor in person. Take care and enjoy your day Deb.

      Eddy.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      M-m-morning Deb. Just thought that I would let you know that it was 20* in Anchorage, AK at 10:00 AM, while Atlanta, GA was about 10* at that time. GA has not had these temperatures for 18 years!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Lovely pictures and such cute birds!

      How difficult it is for humans, if there is Snow and how these birds live in the Snow!

      Another informative and beautiful hub! Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Audrey! You can't pin me, as I deliberately chose not to allow that. Pinterest claims ownership to all photos, and they won't get mine. I'm so glad that you like wildlife as much as I do, as they are so priceless. I have so many stories to share...

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      Audrey Selig 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi I enjoyed the pics and the descriptions of the wildlife. The photography adds so much to your hub. I don't believe our paths have crossed, and it is nice to meet you. I live in Oklahoma also. Blessings. Audrey. Pinning

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Faith Reaper! Thanks for everything. There normally is not that much snow here, but a lot of it was moved about by the wind. This sort of cold is rare rare thing, too, but a lot of odd things have been happening with the weather lately. We shall prevail...

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Interesting and useful hub as always dear Deb. It snowed here in the middle of the night, but did not stick. Today has been the coldest weather ever until in the morning! Yes, up and down, poor animals! I love that shot of the Dark-eyed Junco as well as all of the other photos!

      Wow, you get plenty of snow. We do not see snow like that down here in the deep south. That last photo is a rare bird indeed : ) Beautiful!

      Up and more and sharing ... stay warm!

      Faith Reaper

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thank you, Sir William, for allowing me to do so. Protect your part of the country from ravage, and may the birds assist you in your gardening efforts by keeping the pests down.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well hopefully this is the last serious cold snap of the winter; at least let's hope none is worse. Meanwhile, in Washington State, we are enjoying above average temperatures and not a hint of snow on the horizon. Go figure! Thanks for the tour of your lovely kingdom.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It was -25 in Maine yesterday morning. There are some claims that it was 0 here. We're not even talking wind chills. However, it should improve for al tomorrow, but there are some areas that may get up to four feet of snow. That will NOT happen here!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      Tonight the low is 6* and tomorrow it will be 6* - 8* at 8AM, but I think - at least I hope - that the worst will be over for down here after that. I heard that today was minus something in Minn. or Mich.

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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Happy New Year, to you, Kevin. I have also seen highs first thing in the morning. As a matter of fact, when I went out it was 8 1/2 degrees. Wen I returned, it was 7 1/2, which it still is!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      Happy 2014 Deb, that was awesome. I loved the shot of the Eastern Bluebird, I saw one (my first one) in my backyard a year or two ago! I loved the Carolina Chickadee too. I see that out back almost all of the time. Keep up the good work. :-)

      P.S. - Down in the SE here, 8 A.M. was our high for the day.

      Kevin

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Jackie, you can make your own feeders. You could do that, or cut a small log about 3-4 inches around, 2 feet long. I would drill out holes with a spade bit and stuff with peanut butter. Good luck on the photos.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Glad you are still at it. No snow here but calling for ice and the birds are loving the feed out for them and they just take turns, so many different kinds but now a squirrel has stolen it twice! I tied down a square last time in a wire hanger and wrapped it like an + to be extra strong. I was wondering if I can make my own with big pine cones, P butter and roll in seed; not so easy for him to work loose and take? I really am enjoy it and they are no longer afraid and have hopes of some great pictures soon.

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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad you liked it, Jeannie. Mayhaps we can do a few more?

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      jeannie Dibble 3 years ago

      I experienced first hand yesterday how much a person can learn about wildlife while driving and photographing the back roads with you.