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January 10, 2013

Dry weather influenced annual bird count

(Continued)

NORMAN —

“We also picked up both species of vultures: Black Vultures and Turkey Vulture. This is only the second time that Black Vulture has been recorded on the Norman CBC and only about the ninth or tenth time that we’ve picked up Turkey Vulture.”

The other unusual findings this year included a flock of 13 Red Crossbills. Howery noted the sighting of two eruptive species — Pine Siskin and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

“We had a string of uncommon birds that were seen in small numbers, but at least they were found,” he said. “For example, we picked up Orange-crowned Warbler (1), Common Yellowthroat (1), Greater Roadrunner (1), Brown Thrasher (1), Marsh Wren (2), Le Conte’s Sparrow (1), Vesper Sparrow (2), Chipping Sparrow (1), American Tree Sparrow (1) and Swamp Sparrow (2) ...

“We had slightly higher numbers of Loggerhead Shrikes (6) and Western Meadowlarks (7) than the average over the past 20 years. That could be a result of the drought pushing western birds farther east and into central Oklahoma. That might also explain the presence of Vesper Sparrows ...”

Low numbers were recorded for many resident songbirds. Species seen in low numbers included Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Bewick’s Wren and Field Sparrow.

The wintering, native sparrows also were down, with low numbers for Field Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow and Song Sparrow. The numbers for Spotted Towhee, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow also were low. Only the Northern Cardinal, Fox Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco were close to normal.

Other species seen in low numbers this year included Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Grackle, Northern Flicker and Killdeer.

Belted Kingfishers and American Coot were especially low. And the Northern Bobwhite didn’t appear. The species has been in decline for 20-plus years.

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