APRIL 2004 NEWS
WEEK OF APRIL 29, 2004
WEEK OF APRIL 22, 2004
WEEK OF APRIL 15, 2004
WEEK OF APRIL 8, 2004
WEEK OF APRIL 1, 2004
It’s time to apply for Controlled Hunts
It is that time of year again - time for hunters to submit their applications for the 2004-2005 Controlled Hunts. Hunters can apply over the Internet by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com Not only can hunters save a stamp by applying online, they can also confirm that their application has been received as soon as they apply.
“As far as I am concerned applying online is the way to go. It’s fast, it’s easy and the program will help ensure that your application is filled out correctly,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
This year’s Controlled Hunts booklets are also available at hunting and fishing license dealers located throughout the state, as well as is in PDF format that can be printed off the Department’s Web site (wildlifedepartment.com).
Applicants have until May 14, 2004, to turn in their applications. Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunts Program offers a wide variety of highly desirable hunts through a random drawing. Some hunts are held to provide high-quality hunting experiences on high-profile areas where it is necessary to regulate hunting pressure. Others are held to achieve management goals for certain species, and others are held to provide hunting experiences in areas where access is otherwise limited.
A $5 fee is required of all applicants including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders. This fee is good for ALL 2004-2005 controlled hunt applications submitted by each sportsman. Since the fee is per person and not per application, hunters should decide to apply for all their hunt categories either by mail or online, but not both. Hunters who choose to mail in their applications must complete the processing fee payment form on page 20 of the controlled hunts booklet. Payment can be made by the following methods: cashier's check, money order, cash or credit card.
For complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing your chances of being selected, or log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com or consult the Oklahoma Controlled Hunts 2004-2005 booklet.
Local angler has the chance to make his dreams come true
Glenn Cunningham doesn’t play much basketball, but he can certainly relate to many of the emotions that course through the NCAA basketball tournament.
“It’s really competitive and there can be a lot pressure, but overall it is just a lot of fun,” Cunningham related. “This is something that everyone has worked for a long time, now it is time to just get out there and do your best.”
Cunningham, who lives in Piedmont, wasn’t talking about the Final Four or a buzzer-beater three-point shot. He was talking about catching big bass and winning a different sort of tournament, the 2004 CITGO B.A.S.S. Federation Championship, which is being held April 19-24 on Keystone Lake.
The Federation is the grassroots level of professional bass fishing, providing amateur anglers with the opportunity to qualify for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the Super Bowl of bass fishing. The current competition format consists of 55 anglers who have qualified through elimination tournaments throughout the United States and several foreign countries. Cunningham is the lone competitor from Oklahoma.
“That is my ultimate dream and the dream of every other bass tournament angler for that matter, to be able to fish in the Bassmaster Classic,” Cunningham said. “This Federation Tournament is our shot to reach the pinnacle of the sport.”
The event provides three days of competitive fishing. The public is invited to see what size and number of Keystone bass Cunningham and his competitors catch by attending the weigh-in each day at the Oklahoma Aquarium. The weigh-in will begin at approximately 3 p.m. each day April 22, 23 and 24, and directions to the Oklahoma Aquarium can be found at ww.okaquarium.org. Saturday, April 24 is a day the whole family will not want to miss. Beginning at 9 a.m. there will be a wide variety of events including a chance for kids to fish, Big Air Dogs will be competing on site as well as several booths where B.A.S.S. sponsors will showcase their latest products. The public is also invited to attend the tournament launch each day at the new Mannford ramp off of SH 51. Local law enforcement will be on hand to assist with parking.
B.A.S.S. is the world’s largest fishing organization with approximately 565,000 members. It has conducted professional bass angling tournaments around the nation since its incorporation in 1968. For more information about the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society log on to www.bassmaster.com.
It’s day one of Hummingbird Survey
Are your hummingbird feeders up? Have you downloaded or requested the Hummingbird Feeder Survey? The survey period begins April 1. It’s not too late to participate. Request the survey form by calling the Wildlife Diversity Program at (405) 521-4616 or download the form from the Internet at www.wildlifedepartment.com Feeder tip: Hummingbirds can be territorial. If you place more than one feeder, put them far apart to avoid competition.
Antlerless deer season dates approved by the Wildlife Conservation Commission
After some discussion the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to make no changes to the antlerless deer season dates for the 2004 muzzleloader and modern firearms hunting seasons.
Alan Peoples, wildlife division chief, submitted a proposal to the Commission that would have decreased the total number of antlerless deer hunting days in southeast Oklahoma (zone 10) from the nine days provided last year to four days in the upcoming 2004 seasons. The proposal included no changes in antlerless deer days in the rest of the state.
“Hunters that attended our public meetings in southeast Oklahoma indicated that they were observing fewer does when in the field and consequently expressed a desire for fewer antlerless deer hunting days. This proposal was in response to that feedback,” Peoples said. “In making management decisions we try to include both social and biological factors in the decision. Fewer antlerless deer days would not have a significant biological effect one way or the other.”
However, the Commission amended the proposal back to nine days of antlerless deer hunting (six days in muzzleloader season and three days in modern gun season) in southeast Oklahoma. This amended proposal was passed unanimously by the Commission. Commissioners also approved the original proposal for the remainder of the state and no changes were made in the number of antlerless deer days.
The Commission also approved the dates for the special antlerless deer seasons and the private land elk hunting seasons. Besides calendar adjustments, no changes were made in these season dates.
In other business, the Commission accepted a generous donation of a 24-foot gooseneck trailer from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International. The trailer will be used in the Department’s Shotgun Training Education Program, which introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. The Commission also recognized Mike Petis with Advanced Warnings Inc. for donating the computer graphics for the trailer, which includes both the Wildlife Department and Safari Club International logos.
Also at the April meeting, Carlos Gomez, state game warden stationed in Tulsa County was recognized as the National Wild Turkey Federation Oklahoma game warden of the year.
“Carlos has proven to be an outstanding representative for the state and we are proud to honor him as the game warden of the year,” said Gary Purdy, regional director for the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The Commission voted to accept a donation of $5,000 from the Oklahoma City Zoological Park. The money will be used for the Department’s Natural Resources Diversity Program. The donation bolsters the strong partnership between the Zoo and the Wildlife Department. Five Department biologists currently work out of offices on the zoo grounds.
“We feel like this is a perfect relationship and we are proud to assist the Department of Wildlife in their conservation efforts,” said Bert Castro, executive director of the Oklahoma City Zoological Park.
In other business, the Commission voted to approve a pair of changes to the employee handbook. First, a provision was made to allow temporary Department personnel to use Department-owned all-terrain vehicles. Second, mandatory retirement for game wardens was set at age 65. Individuals may apply for a one-year work extension, which must be approved by the Department director. A maximum of five extensions may be granted. Reserve officers must also cease law enforcement activity at age 65.
Also at the meeting, the Commission entered into executive session to discuss the purchase of property in Adair and Sequoyah counties. No action was taken on the item.
Commissioners also recognized Leon Johnson, wildlife technician at Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area, for his 25 years of service to the agency and to the sportsmen of the state.
The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The next scheduled Commission meeting is May 3 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.
Fisheries biologists continue to monitor LMBV is state waters
Although several new cases of largemouth bass virus (LMBV) were detected last fall, the majority of last year’s testing indicates that virus is on the decline in many lakes.
Samples were taken from 13 lakes in 2003 and sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Health Center in Arizona. A total of 21 lakes have now tested positive for the virus, however only two documented fish kills have occurred in Oklahoma as a result of LMBV.
“We are pleased to see LMBV declining in lakes like Eufaula and Tenkiller and these results go along with our predictions that bass are developing natural immunity to the virus,” said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “However the virus remains at moderate levels in lakes like Hudson and Ft. Gibson. Fortunately we have not seen any documented fish kills in those lakes.”
The virus was first documented in the state at a LMBV fish kill in 2000 at Lake Tenkiller. As predicted, Tenkiller’s bass population is recovering and bass fishing appears to be returning to normal. The second was located at Wes Watkins Reservoir in central Oklahoma during the fall of 2003. The effects of this LMBV disease outbreak have yet to be determined.
“We will sample the lake again this spring to see if bass numbers and size structure have changed in order to get an idea of the impact,” Erickson said.
Not all bass that have the virus die from the disease. In fact, most bass that carry LMBV appear normal. In lakes where bass have developed the fatal disease, dying fish often swim near the surface and have trouble remaining upright. LMBV is not known to infect warm-blooded animals, including humans. Fish infected with the virus are safe to eat when properly cooked.
Since 2000, 26 lakes have been tested for LMBV. Lakes testing positive include Arbuckle, Eucha, Eufaula, Ft. Gibson, Grand, Hudson, Keystone, Konawa, Lawtonka, McGee Creek, Murray, Okemah, Oologah, Sardis, Skiatook, Sooner, Tenkiller, Texoma, Thunderbird, Webbers Falls and Wes Watkins. Lakes Arcadia, Bixhoma, Broken Bow, Crowder and Holdenville have so far tested negative for LMBV.
Biologists remain optimistic that Oklahoma waters seem to be following a similar pattern seen in other states where the virus runs it’s course and the big fish that are lost are replaced in the population by younger fish. Even in those lakes where the virus remains prevalent, biologists have not seen any major changes to the bass fishery.
“We will continue to monitor the status of LMBV and manage our bass populations across the state, and we will provide information to our anglers every chance we get,” Erickson said.
Wildlife Department’s Shooting Program gets boost from Safari Club International
If you get a chance to visit with Ed Cunnius, you better talk fast. Ed is a busy man.
“I might be in Altus one day, then in Guymon, then down to Broken Bow, maybe all in the same week,” said Cunnius, who is the coordinator of the Wildlife Department’s Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP).
The hands-on program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms.
Cunnius’ job got a little easier on Monday when the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International donated a 24-foot gooseneck trailer to the Wildlife Department.
“This donation is a huge boast to the STEP program,” Cunnius said. “It will allow us to set up a fully-equipped mobile training facility and allow instructors more time to conduct seminars statewide and less time packing and unpacking a small trailer.”
Thanks to Mike Petis with Advanced Warnings Inc. it will be hard to miss the new trailer as it travels up and down the state’s highways. Petis donated some eye-catching computer graphics for the trailer displaying Wildlife Department and Safari Club International logos.
Individuals can learn the basics of shotgun shooting or improve their skills in just one day at a free STEP seminar. The program will help you build better shooting skills whether you enjoy the challenge of shooting clay targets or stalking game in the field. In addition, the Wildlife Department offers a different seminar for every skill level, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced shooter looking to brush up on your skills.
To receive an application and guidelines for hosting a STEP program, call (918) 744-1039.
Cutline: The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International donated a 24-foot gooseneck trailer to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The trailer will be used in the Department's shotgun shooting program which introduces youth and adults in proper shooting techniques and safe gun handling.
Springtime fishing heating up
Temperatures are on their way up across the state and the fishing is picking up as well.
According to several sources, including anglers, marina operators and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation employees, lakes all across the state are producing good stringers of fish. With so many outstanding reservoirs in Oklahoma it is tough to keep up with current fishing conditions, unless, that is, you go online to get up to the day fishing reports, at www.wildlifedepartment.comAccording to the most recent report, crappie are moving into shallow water at Lake Hefner, on the north edge of Oklahoma City. At Lake Oologah just north of Tulsa, fishermen are catching white bass as they move up the Verdigris River. In southeast Oklahoma, anglers are catching good numbers of trout using dry flies in zone 1 of the Lower Mountain Fork River. At Canton Lake, near Watonga, largemouth bass fishing is reported as excellent in the upper end of the lake using spinnerbaits and crankbaits. That is just a few of the good reports pouring in from across the state Compiled by Wildlife Department personnel and independent reporters, the updated reports even include techniques and locations to increase angler success. Broken into five state regions, the pages also include other valuable information for the informed angler. Water temperature, water conditions and lake levels can help fishermen get the most out of their outings. Fishermen can even have the reports delivered right to their computer. To sign up for the weekly fishing report and other wildlife news go to www.wildlifedepartment.com
QU youth camp slated June 6-11
Youngsters interested in expanding their outdoors skills can participate in the ninth annual Oklahoma COVEY Kids Camp June 6-11 at Camp Redlands in Stillwater.The week-long camp, hosted by the Oklahoma Council of Quail Unlimited, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and local Quail Unlimited chapters, is open to all Oklahoma youngsters ages 13 to 16. According to Bob Hayes, camp coordinator, the camp teaches kids to better appreciate Oklahoma's natural resources and exposes them to wide variety of outdoor endeavors. "This is a great opportunity for kids to come and learn more about the great outdoors," Hayes said. Attendees will receive professional instruction in archery, sporting clays, muzzleloading, taxidermy, dog training, radio telemetry, hunting safety, wildlife career opportunities, habitat evaluation, first aid and much more. Camp participants will also complete requirements for their Hunter Education card. "It’s hard to say which is the kids favorite events. Sometimes it seems like they have a new favorite everyday,” Hayes said. "One of the neat things about this camp is the expert instructors. We have OSU professors, Wildlife Department biologists, professional dog trainers - everyone gets involved. They are all volunteers and they seem to be have as much fun as the kids.” A maximum of 35 students will be selected for this year’s camp. To apply, applicants must write a short essay explaining why they wish to attend, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. It should also explain their involvement in extracurricular activities. The camp costs $250 per person, although a wide range of scholarship funds are available from local Quail Unlimited chapters. The application deadline is May 21. For more information, contact Bob Hayes at (918) 542-1403.
Controlled hunts application deadline approaching soonTick, tock, the clock is ticking. Hunters have until May 14 to submit their applications for the 2004 Oklahoma Controlled Hunts program. Hunters can apply over the Internet 24 hours a day by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com Not only can hunters save a stamp by applying online, they can also confirm that their application has been received as soon as they apply. This year’s Controlled Hunts booklets are also available at hunting and fishing license dealers located throughout the state, as well as is in PDF format that can be printed off the Department’s Web site. Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunts Program offers a wide variety of highly desirable hunts through a random drawing. Some hunts are held to provide high-quality hunting experiences on high-profile areas where it is necessary to regulate hunting pressure. Others are held to achieve management goals for certain species, and others are held to provide hunting experiences in areas where access is otherwise limited. A $5 fee is required of all applicants including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders. This fee is good for ALL 2004-2005 controlled hunt applications submitted by each sportsman. Since the fee is per person and not per application, hunters should decide to apply for all their hunt categories either by mail or online, but not both. Hunters who choose to mail in their applications must complete the processing fee payment form on page 20 of the controlled hunts booklet. Payment can be made by: cashier's check, money order, cash or credit card. For complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing your chances of being selected, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com or consult the Oklahoma Controlled Hunts 2004-2005 booklet.
Conference scheduled to discuss the future of Oklahoma’s wildlife
Some of the state’s brightest and most knowledgeable wildlife experts will soon be gathering in Stillwater for a special wildlife conference, to be held July 13-15. The conference is the next step in the development of the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS).
The strategy, which is being created by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in collaboration with wildlife stakeholders, will address the needs all fish and wildlife species in the state. It will also use a habitat approach, rather than a species-by-species management approach. All 50 states are creating similar strategies. When fit together like a puzzle, they will show the current state of America’s wildlife and identify actions needed to keep fish and wildlife populations healthy.
Hunters, anglers and boaters, and participants in outdoor recreation have traditionally funded the majority of fish and wildlife conservation. This funding has not been enough to address the needs of all 800 plus wildlife species in Oklahoma. That is the case nationwide, and all state fish and wildlife agencies have been working for 20 years to fill this funding gap. This strategy is a component of the new Federal State Wildlife Grants Program: The nation’s core program for keeping America’s wildlife populations healthy.
This conference is one vitally important step - and opportunity - in the process of preparing Oklahoma’s CWCS. The purpose of this conference is to bring together people who care about the future of fish and wildlife conservation in Oklahoma, especially those most knowledgeable about fish and wildlife resources in Oklahoma, along with the best available information about species and habitats of greatest conservation need. A series of intensive workshops will examine and integrate the latest information which will be used in the CWCS.
Anyone with an interest in wildlife in Oklahoma will be welcome, particularly those with knowledge about specific species, habitats, or conservation actions.
OG&E assisting least terns
It’s way out in the middle of the wind-swept Sooner Lake. The area is covered in coarse sand, interspersed with gravel. The only trees are on the other side of the lake. It’s perfect - at least it’s perfect for interior least terns.
OG&E, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is constructing a one-of-a-kind nesting area for least terns at its Sooner Lake power plant near Ponca City. The nesting area is located at the end of a two-mile dike that extends into the reservoir.
According to Erv Warren, lead environmental consultant for OG&E, the project is designed to duplicate the natural nesting sites of the endangered birds on the nearby Arkansas River.
“Least terns require large flat sandy areas where they can build their nests in shallow depressions and that is what we are trying to recreate here. We are even going to try and put some tern decoys out to make the area look enticing to passing terns,” Warren said. “We think this site will be particularly good because it so difficult for land predators to access. A coyote would have to walk two miles down this dike to get at a nest.”
This is certainly not the first environment project undertaken by OG&E. Through its formation of the “Green Team” in 1999, the company has taken a strong leadership role and has partnered with other organizations to sponsor various environmental projects.
Through its “Good Things Come from Trees” partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Division, OG&E helps distribute more than 20,000 tree seedling to the public each year. The Green Team also supports environmental education in Oklahoma schools by providing educational material and programs about the environment. OG&E has also become a leader in the development of wind-generated electricity. Additionally, both Sooner and Konawa lakes are located near OG&E power plants, and both have reputations for being top-notch fishing destinations.
Crappie fishing picking up
From Broken Bow to Canton to Oologah, Oklahoma is certainly to home to a wide diversity of fine fishing lakes. As different as they may be, many of them currently have one thing in common - crappie fishing is good in shallow water.
The weekly fishing report, compiled by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation personnel and other individuals, indicates that crappie fishing is picking up. Crappie fishing is one of the most popular fishing opportunities available due to their willingness to bite and their fine flavor at the dinner table.
Crappie can be found moving into shallow water to spawn once the water temperature reaches the upper 50s to lower 60s. Crappie spawning generally takes place in water only 18 to 36 inches deep.
The best place to fish for crappie this time of year is around brush in shallow water. A small jig or minnow is often very effective and the nice thing is, you can be very successful fishing from shore.
For a complete list of regulations, anglers should pick up a copy of the “2004 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” before heading out on any fishing adventure and check out specific lake conditions and fishing action by logging on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Cutline: Young or old, crappie fishing is fun for all ages. Fishing reports this week indicate that fishing action is picking up across the state.
Striped bass populations on the rise at Lake Texoma
The waters of Lake Texoma are heating up and so is the fishing. Anglers are reporting excellent striped bass fishing on the south central Oklahoma impoundment.
"The striped bass population is in really good shape right now," said Paul Mauck, south-central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. " A 12 percent increase in striped bass numbers was observed over levels found in 2003 and stripers 20 inches and larger comprised 25 percent of the total striper population."
According to Mauck, numerous anglers have reported 10-pound stripers and several striper catches have exceeded 20 pounds. Known for their outstanding fighting abilities, striped bass are long-lived and fast growing. Stripers are voracious predators with a diet consisting mainly of threadfin and gizzard shad.
"One of the reasons the stripers are doing so well right now is that their forage populations are also really healthy," Mauck said. “We can look forward to a great year of fishing, not just for stripers but also for smallmouth bass, catfish and many other species.
Recent netting data showed that striped bass populations are the highest they have been at Lake Texoma since 2001. Fisheries biologists with the Wildlife Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department work together to manage the expansive reservoir that straddles the Oklahoma/Texas border.
According to Mauck, the recent toxic golden alga outbreak had a minimal effect on the overall Lake Texoma fishery. No fish mortality has been observed for several weeks and the number of golden alga cells has significantly declined over the past month.
Besides getting Texoma fishing reports on the Department's Web site, www.wildlifedepartment.com, additional information can be found at www.sixoldgeezers.com. The site offers fishing reports, lodging and guide information, as well as a great variety of links that can provide all the information needed for a trip to Texoma.
Those fishing Lake Texoma need either an Oklahoma or Texas annual fishing license, depending on which state's waters they will be fishing, or anglers can purchase an annual Lake Texoma Fishing License for $12.00. The Lake Texoma license is valid for the entire lake, and is good for both the Oklahoma and Texas sides.
Three new bowfishing records set in April
They say records are made to be broken and a trio of Oklahoma bow fishermen are taking that maxim to heart.
On April 24, Brandon Pope of Broken Bow arrowed a 48-pound 1-ounce smallmouth buffalo while bowfishing, on Broken Bow Lake in southeast Oklahoma. The fish measured 41 inches long and was a full 32 inches in girth. It is now the new standard in the unrestricted (non rod and line) tackle division.
The record was weighed on certified scales at the Wildlife Department’s office in Caddo and was witnessed by Randel Currie, fisheries technician for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
That wasn’t the only record to fall this month. Jamie Eaton of Harrah took a 5-pound, 15-ounce shortnose gar while bowfishing April 4, at Lake Eufaula. The fish measured 32 5/8 inches long and held the state record in the unrestricted division.
The record was weighed on certified scales at Sheltons Grocery in Checotah and was witnessed by Ed Rodebush, state game warden stationed in McIntosh County.
However Eaton did not hold the record for long – 20 days to be exact. On April 24, Dale Starry of Holdenville arrowed an 8-pound, 14.6-ounce shortnose gar while bowfishing on the Canadian River in Haskell County. The fish measured 35 3/4 inches long and is the new standard in the unrestricted (non rod and line) tackle division – at least for now.
The record was weighed on certified scales at Nichols Dollar Saver in McAlester and was witnessed by James Vincent, southeast region fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding state record fish consult the "2004 Oklahoma Fishing Guide." If you think you may have hooked a record fish it is important that you weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife Department employee.
Cutline: On April 24, Brandon Pope of Broken Bow arrowed a 48-pound 1-ounce smallmouth buffalo while bowfishing, on Broken Bow Lake. The big fish is now the new standard in the unrestricted (non rod and line) tackle division.
Cutline: On April 24, Dale Starry of Holdenville arrowed an 8-pound, 14.6-ounce shortnose gar while bowfishing, on the Canadian River in Haskell County. The fish, which was nearly three feet long is the new standard in the unrestricted (non rod and line) tackle division.
Cutline: On April 4, Jamie Eaton of Harrah arrowed a 5-pound 15-ounce shortnose gar while bowfishing, on Eufaula. The fish held the unrestricted tackle division record for just 20 days.
May 8 bird count to commemorate International Migratory Bird Day
The bright orange and black Baltimore oriole is one of about 60 birds that migrate hundreds of miles to Oklahoma each spring. So too does the state bird, the scissortail flycatcher.
Birds that spend the winter in Central and South America and trek to North America to nest and raise young are called neotropical migrants.
Chances are good to see several migrant species Saturday, May 8 at the Oklahoma City Zoo’s Festival of Plants and Birds, said Wildlife Department biologist Mark Howery.
Howery is among several plant and wildlife guides who will lead morning bird counts at the zoo in celebration of International Migratory Bird and Plant Conservation Day.
The free bird counts run from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Register at the Zoo’s main entrance at 6 a.m. Bring binoculars if you have them, Howery said.
“We’ll also spot year-round residents such as the eastern bluebird and American goldfinch,” Howery said. “All together, we counted about 80 different species last year.”
Oklahoma’s bird migration peaks late April through May. The birds migrate primarily to find food. They feed on insects and raise their young on insects.
“The Zoo is a popular place for blue-gray gnatcatchers, great-crested flycatchers, and several different species of warblers, including the rare prothonotary warbler,” Howery said.
Sponsors for the Festival of Plants and Birds are the Oklahoma City Zoological and Botanical Garden, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, American Association of Zookeepers, the Zoo’s Horticulture staff and the Association of Zoological Horticulture.