Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

March 19, 2014

Bird-watchers getting into their feathered friends

TAHLEQUAH — The 1960s the Hitchcock thriller, “The Birds,” first drew Don Hilger’s attention to the feathered creatures. Until he saw that movie, he hadn’t been aware there were so many types of birds.

“I’ve always been interested in the field or ornithology, but didn’t know how to go about it,” said Hilger, who moved to Tahlequah from Napa, Calif., 10 years ago.

Last weekend marked Hilger’s first field trip with a group to bird-watch.

“Just getting out, I probably had more exercise than I’ve had in a year,” he said.

Spotting a first-ever albino-breasted robin made for an exciting Saturday morning. The field trip followed a bird identification meeting earlier in the week.

Five people made it to the Murrell Home field trip around 8 a.m., shortly after day break.

“We looked around the Murrell Home park then drove down to the river, through various back roads,” said George Fulk, leader of the workshop, along with Joyce Varner. “For me, the highlight was seeing a partial albino robin. His or her breast was all white.”

Varner has monitored birds around the Fort Gibson water fowl refuge for 17 years.

“I like the traveling to go to watch birds with good companions,” Varner said. “And doing the different surveys. Even though we’re amateurs, we contribute to the scientific knowledge about birds through observations, catching and banding projects. One bird we saw for nine years.”

Meandering along the park trail, listening and watching for feathered visitors, the group on more than one occasion had to consult a field guide to  determine which bird was in view.

“The Sibley field guide is the best, I think,” said Fulk “It has the range map that shows breeding and migratory range and a little bit about behavior.”

They saw 25 types of birds Saturday morning: the Great Blue Heron, Canadian Goose, Lesser Scaup, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe (new spring arrivals, with a pair making a nest), American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Mockingbird, and House Sparrow.

A bird-watcher for decades, Varner also keeps her eyes peeled for the unusual.

“One time we saw a Great Blue Heron nest up in a tree top; usually they nest with other nests near by. The next year, it was gone,” she said.

When a Myrtle Warbler was spotted, Fulk said that’s the name he learned for the bird.

“The naming committee, the American Ornithological Union, changed it about 20 years ago to Yellow-rumped Warbler. New DNA research is one reason names change,” said Varner. “It’s a full-time resident here.”

For nearly three hours, the watchers wandered the park, drove back roads to the river, stopping when they saw birds or ducks.

“It’s still early in the spring not all birds have arrived yet,” she said. “The scissortails come back about the first of April – and other swallows, too.”

Before leaving the park, the bird enthusiasts were excited to observe the white-breasted robin again.

“I’ve never seen an albino robin before. It’s a good day,” said Fulk.

A backyard bird feeder is one of Patsy Clifford’s favorite places to bird watch.

“My husband [Craig] and I like to look at birds. He helped monitor with Joyce [Varner] with the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship program of the Institute for Bird Populations, banding, trapping and counting,” said Clifford.

As the group members moved toward their cars to leave, Fulk said, “Now I’m going fishing.”

Text Only
Features
  • 22ndAmendment.jpg Presidential terms limited by 22nd Amendment

    The past 30 years have been marked by occasional grumbling from one American political party, and celebration from the other - depending on who occupies the White House - about the disqualification of a president after eight years of service.
    For much of the nation’s history, a presidency could last indefinitely.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • sg-Paperbacks.jpg Paperbacks still survive in the digital age

    In an era when mobile technology is always at hand, most people can access an electronic book at any time. Such literary luxuries weren’t widely available to previous generations until the dawn of the paperback book.
    Wednesday, July 30, is set as a day to celebrate the low-cost, portable book during National Paperback Book Day.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-skydiver-tomahawk.jpg Former resident tapped for national skydiving award

    A man known locally for putting Tahlequah on the international map by bringing world-class skydiving events to town is being inducted in the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame in October.
    Norman Heaton said he’s very honored to be selected for the prestigious award given to people who have made significant contributions to the sport of skydiving.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20th-Amendment.jpg Inauguration day changed by 20th Amendment

    Sometimes an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution that is uncontroversial and virtually unlitigated.
    Such is the 20th Amendment, which moved the seating of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration day to January, and enumerates procedure if a president-elect dies or cannot take office.
    Because the “Lame-Duck Amendment” addresses procedure, it is long.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-School-Fashion.jpg Fashion show to feature local teachers

    A fun fashion event that will provide funds for one lucky area school is coming up next weekend.
    Local teachers and students have until Tuesday, July 22, to sign up for the Teacher and Student Back 2 School Fashion Show at Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-actress.jpg TV’s ‘Mistresses’ has second local tie

    Tahlequah has at least two ties to the TV drama “Mistresses.”
    Local florist Josh Cottrell-Mannon designed the flower arrangements for the show’s season finale, and Arriane Alexander, daughter of local resident Sharilyn Young, is portraying a television news reporter.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Stark-Sequoyah.jpg Stark enjoys making a difference

    Kristin Stark, Sequoyah Elementary Teacher of Year, loves teaching, and has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
    “I love making a difference in the lives of children; it is a wonderful feeling to make a positive impact on a child,” said Stark.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • sr-19thAmendment.jpg Women got the vote with 19th Amendment

    During its first 140 years, the United States Constitution underwent a series of changes intended to extend voting rights to those who were not white or didn’t own property - but as the American experiment entered the 20th Century, half the adult population still had no protection to vote.
    Though they certainly had political opinions, women could not cast a ballot in most states. That changed with passage of the 19th Amendment.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • renee-storyteller.jpg Cherokee, Tlingit storytellers to share their craft during special NSU event

    Two Native American cultures will be represented during a storytelling workshop featuring Cherokee Gayle Ross and Tlingit and Cherokee dancer and storyteller Gene Tagaban, of Seattle.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1-ts CN opt 1.jpg Cherokees commemorate Act of Union

    Cherokee Nation dignitaries met on the historic courthouse square Tuesday to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Act of Union following the end of the Trail of Tears Removal.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks