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Secrets at a Glance, Birding Payne County Oklahoma

Updated on September 12, 2015
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo | Source

Why Go Birding in Oklahoma?

There are wonderful birding areas all over the country, but Oklahoma is clearly a world of its own, boasting 437 species as of this article. It has wetland floodplains, riparian forests, salt marshes, sloughs, scrubland, deciduous brushlands, montane regions, and some remaining grasslands. We haven’t even really discussed lake hotspots, but much of what you’re looking for can be found in central Oklahoma, some of the best kept secrets on the Central Flyway in Payne County with 274 species.

Green Herons Recently Fledged
Green Herons Recently Fledged | Source

Best Kept Secret on the Central Flyway

Boomer Lake, which was completed in 1925, is an artificial reservoir with a 252- acre surface area, mean depth of 9.5 feet, and a 5 km walkpath. All throughout the year, there is excellent birding, hosting 204 species at present. Located in Payne County and with Boomer Creek as a tributary, this watershed has rich riparian forests, and abundant bass, catfish, sunfish, crappie, and saugeye to keep hungry water birds well fed and breeding in the area.

There is a heron colony that is not easily reached and a resident Bald Eagle that prove that the layout of the land is ideal. For the past two years, Green Herons have been breeding on this lake, there are sporadic Black-crowned Night-Heron nests, and this is an important stopover for most species of ducks, three out of four species of swans, and sometimes the Common Loon during the winter.

Great Egret
Great Egret | Source

Other lovely and fruitful parks and lakes are in the vicinity for your viewing pleasure as well. There is Sanborn Lake, Lake Carl Blackwell, Teal Ridge Wetlands, Couch, Whittenberg, and Babcock Parks.

Each location is a little different and will sometimes provide different birds with a slightly different lay of the land.

Field Sparrow
Field Sparrow | Source

Sparrows Throughout the Year

Late winter and for some birds through spring and summer, is a busy hub of activity for a number of species of sparrow genera, especially the Song, White-crowned, Clay-colored, Fox, Lincoln’s, Savannah, Grasshopper and Harris’s Sparrows, as well as the Dark-eyed Junco.

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler | Source

Warblers At a Glance

During spring migration, the vicinity shares space with Yellow, Orange-crowned, Wilson’s, Black-and-white, Prothonotary, and Nashville Warblers, as well as the Northern Parula. You’ll be taking your chances with fall migration, but you could likely see the Yellow, Wilson’s, and Orange-crowned species. The Yellow-rumped Warbler winters here.

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker | Source

Woodpeckers Are at Home Here, Too

This area is favored by many woodpeckers, especially when the spring has had a good rain. There are Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the winter, and there are plenty of Northern Flickers, Red-headed, Red-bellied, Downy, and Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers upon occasion.

Mississippi Kite
Mississippi Kite | Source

Hawks at Their Best

For late summer, fall, and winter there are hawks to be seen. We begin with the Mississippi Kite, and there are Cooper’s, Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, Harris’s, Swainson’s, Broad-winged, and Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrel, and Northern Harrier. If you’re very lucky, you might spot the Ferruginous and Rough-legged Hawks, as well as the Golden Eagle in flight.

Bell's Vireo
Bell's Vireo | Source

Songbird Central!

Throughout the year, you’ll find a plethora of songbirds, especially in the spring and summer, not even mentioning migratory times, where nearly anything goes. Just as a small sample, you can see our state bird, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. There are also Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Painted Bunting, Brown Creeper, and many more.

Are there water and shore birds? Yes, and plenty of them at various times of the year.

What Else Could I See?

If I might add, El Nino will bring a variety of interesting avian friends during winter and spring. Since we are well into global warming, many birds are coming and going. Keep in mind that they might not be seen on the ground, for there are many that are in transit from one point to another. This includes the Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, the Snow Goose, and even the Snowy Owl. There are many others that I haven’t even touched upon, like the waterthrushes and other warblers.

Even though some people have lived in this area for years, there are some birds that do make appearances that have not been seen by many, like the elusive bitterns, thrushes, and veery. Maybe it will be your lucky day when you’re in town, as there are no hardfast rules that apply to birds. Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!

Have You Been Birding In Oklahoma Yet?

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Where Is Boomer Lake Park in Stillwater, OK?

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Linda! So glad to hear it. I have so many articles that I wish to write, and am madly researching for many more. I'll be getting my feet wet in hands-on research, too. Stay tuned...

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the photos in this hub, Deb! They're beautiful. Reading this article was a lovely way to start my day.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Dianna! Perhaps you should come to OK again in the spring and I will show you the wonders of Boomer Lake.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 20 months ago

      I was in Oklahoma once but didn't get a chance to enjoy this beautiful part of the country. I think you have revealed this little gem "Boomer Lake" so that all would love to visit.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I hope that you do, Mel, and I will be your personal guide to show you my haunts.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 20 months ago from San Diego California

      Great succinct explanation of life at the Boomer. Maybe when I migrate eastward I will get a chance to do some OK birding. Great hub!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Patricia! I have my own personal little angels that I see every day, of which I am very thankful. There is nothing more relaxing than my little friends living their lives.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 20 months ago from sunny Florida

      Enjoyed every moment of this 'tour'. Taking time to watch a plethora of amazing birds is an activity not like many others. Here in Florida there are so many lovelies who come to visit and share their beauty and song. It is such a relaxing time in the evening when I am on my porch and listen to the songs echoing in the trees

      Awesome photos.

      Share pinned g+ tweeted Angels are once again on the way to you ps

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Larry, and do take advantage of this year's migration. I recently saw both the Red- and White-eyed Vireos, as well as the Blue-headed Vireo on Saturday. The fall birds are everywhere, as well as quite a few warblers that are still in the vicinity.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Dave. There will be plenty of other birds with this year's upcoming powerful El Nine. Winter and spring should yield quiet a few birds with the unusual weather expected to come through.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

      I've enjoyed birding in Oklahoma my whole life. We have a beautiful assortment of birds here.

      Great hub.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 20 months ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Deb, Fantastic information which has added greatly to my knowledge of birds in your part of the world. I love the image of the Yellow billed cuckoo and the Yellow warbler. I have booked marked this page for future reference. Great work.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Missy! Different birds go all over the country, like most of the warblers, who go to the northeast and Canada to breed, but some stop here. Maine has lots of them throughout the summer. I'm grounded today, due to the weather, but I should be out and about tomorrow. Thanks for visiting!

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 20 months ago from Florida

      Wow! It sounds like Oklahoma is definitely the state to visit for bird lover's and watchers. It's home to some familiar birds that I've also seen here in good old Florida, but not all.

      Those little sparrows are just darling, the little yellow warbler too. I don't think I've seen one of those. I love watching the red-headed woodpecker. I wish I had more time to bird watch. I really love to do that. :)

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, manatita. Here's to hoping that I will be able to do what I have set out to do for the environment.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 20 months ago from london

      You're also a Star Deb, and a shining one too. But perhaps you know this. Giving and receiving; receiving and giving ...in this game of life, this is so beautiful ....! Praise be!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, manatita! The birds are always the real stars, I just record them for posterity. Thanks for viewing.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 20 months ago from london

      Deb, you have brought Boomer lake to me, and now Oklahoma in a very vivid way, and your birds, as always, are magnificent. I was thinking that perhaps the Egret is as stately as the swan, but then I saw the sparrow, yellow warbler, kite and others and they all look stately or very poised to me.

      Great work as always. Much Love.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I get a lot of pics, agusfanani, but think about all the ones that I don't see, or lose the photo altogether. It is also a different story in the deep woods, too, when it is harder to move about. I will be waiting to see your birds one day, too.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, perspy, I sell my material, and depending upon where the pics were taken, depends on the birding non-profit that sees half of my sales. I'm glad that you were able to see through my eyes for a little while.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Even if you had, Billy, things changed a lot over the years. What used to be here then, is no longer around. Unfortunately, with clearing ground and building on it, the habitat it gone. Old forest growth is missing as well as a lot of "new" forest(in comparison). That's why birds are going extinct and are extirpated(gone from where they once used to live). It is the same everywhere, though, thanks to humanity as a whole.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 20 months ago from Indonesia

      Although I haven't got an appropriate lens yet, bird photography is one of my favorites. With varied species living there, Oklahoma is certainly a heaven for that purpose.

      Thank you for sharing information about birding in Oklahoma.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 20 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      aviannovice - I have to ask (because it is such an obvious question): Are you framing and selling your photographs?

      Your photo of the Snowy Egret is already a classic in my opinion from the instant I saw it!

      Thanks again for letting me into your passion for a moment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, I don't think I've been to Oklahoma since I was a kid, and I'm pretty darn certain I didn't go birding then. My loss. :)

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Will! If you get the chance, come back through. El Nino is going to stir up a lot, so there will be plenty more to see. Hope to not greet you with any more bombs. Hope to be in southeast AZ next year to work on the Flammulated Owl Project and look for all the hummers.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, whonu. We're in the midst of migration, so anything can and will happen.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I spent a year in OK City (I was there when the bomb went off) and I put my boat in a slip on Lake Thunderbird. We sometimes moored in the coves and just took in all the wildlife, including the birds.

      I am not a birder, but I really enjoyed this Hub. Well done!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Sha! I am lucky enough to get to know some of these birds, so they don't fear me and actually get pretty close. For those that don't, I have a zoom lens.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Chantelle, they are migratory routes, like the time zones more-or-less. There is the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific flyways which birds use, but just because they head north on my Central Flyway, doesn't mean that they will return on exactly the same route of travel. They vary to some degree, but are ingrained in a bird's nature. This year's birds that hatched will have a route of travel to Central America, as an example, and land in the same vicinity every year that they are alive, and provided that they make it there. The hardest flight will be the very first one for any neotropical migrant(birds that reside in North America for the summer and winter in the tropics.) Any questions, feel free to ask.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 20 months ago from United States

      Nice work as usual my friend and blessings. Love the photos. whonu

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 20 months ago from Central Florida

      I always enjoy your articles, Deb. Your photography never ceases to amaze me. You take such vivid, close-up shots!

    • Chantelle Porter profile image

      Chantelle Porter 20 months ago from Chicago

      Do they call it the flyway because so many birds pass through there? I really want to learn more about birds. Great article.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Elsie! It will give you an excuse to share your birds with me. I have a professional camera, so that makes a BIG difference.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, thumbi! I was out for a four hour stroll for this one.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Faith! Life is but a birder's dream here. I'm just fortunate that everything plays to the way that I call it for the rest of the folks that read my material. One of my Green Herons flew over to visit me at The Northern Reaches. Birds have incredible powers of recognition over the years.

      Like yours, temps have dropped over here, too, an effect of El Nino and the storms.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 20 months ago from New Zealand

      Enjoyed this bird article very much, you have taken some very beautiful photos, they are very clear, you are a good photographer.

      I'm a bird lover also, living in New Zealand we don't have all those birds that you have, but we do have some very special birds here.

      Happy days bird watching.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 20 months ago from India

      Wow! This is such a beautiful hub. You have captured some beautiful moments

      Thanks for sharing

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 20 months ago from southern USA

      Oh, Deb, I loved learning more about Oklahoma and Boomer Lake! It is certainly a bird paradise. Your photos are stunningly beautiful. I especially love the one of the yellow Warbler.

      The weather here is so lovely now, and much color with no humidity. I hope the rest of your weekend on Boomer Lake is lovely.

      Peace and blessings

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