Kelly Bostian: Odd duck a late celebrity in Audubon count
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013
1/10/13 at 5:56 AM
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EAGLES, AN ODD duck and a misdirected shorebird make the list today.
This time of year, a black-bellied whistling duck should be somewhere on the coast of southwest Texas or sunning itself down in Mexico.
But at least one of the species turned up in Tulsa in December and made a remarkable and memorable - yet fatal - appearance.
A hunter in north Tulsa, within the 15-mile radius of the assigned "count circle" of the local Audubon club, bagged the unusual bird on the annual Christmas Bird Count day.
"Apparently a hunter shot it that Saturday, somewhere near Sperry," said Audubon chapter president John Kennington. "A friend of the hunter was a birder and recognized it as something unusual and knew to call someone and report it."
Waterfowl are a typical feature of the Christmas tally. "That may be our first dead bird in the count. ... Maybe we should start to census hunters in the count area," Kennington said with a laugh.
With all the results tallied this week, count coordinator Jo Lloyd reported numbers of birds may have been down overall, particularly among sparrow and blackbird species, but the variety of species seen set a new record at 116, with the "BBWD" being a new standout. Despite the record number, a few typically seen species were missed this year, such as great horned owls, winter wrens and least sandpipers.
The odd duck was a living specimen on the day of the count, so even though it's someone's dinner by now, the specimen counts toward the total. Consider it a throwback to the olden days of ornithology.
"The first birders, that's what you did; you didn't have binoculars like you have today, so that's how you would identify it, you'd collect it," Kennington said.
While a licensed and legal hunter "collected" the black-bellied whistling duck, an alert birder with glasses eyed a rare specimen that is drawing people to Lake Carl Blackwell, near Stillwater, this week.
A purple sandpiper, normally seen along rocky jetties off the Atlantic Coast, was spotted early this week at the lake, Kennington said.
"This is only the second record of that bird for Oklahoma," he said. People have been going to the lake to see the bird, and it was spotted there on Wednesday. "They've spotted it for at least two days; who knows how long it will stick around.
"Things like this always make you wonder just how many unusual birds come through the area that people never see," he said.
One bird common to the Tulsa area will be celebrated this weekend. Tulsa Bald Eagle Days are Saturday and Sunday, and Audubon organizers expect a good crowd.
"We moved it into town last year from Keystone Dam, and we were pleasantly surprised at the turnout," he said. "This year it is expanded even more."
Fourteen presenters will be giving talks and seminars on Saturday and Sunday at Jenks High School with ample opportunities to see live bald eagles and falcons on display both days.
In addition to the live bird demonstrations, seminars will cover everything from bird rehabilitation to avian photography and art to storytelling, eagles in Native American culture and even a PBS documentary.
Eagle watchers will gather from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Helmerich Park, just off Riverside Drive south of the 71st Street intersection. Seminars begin at Jenks High School, in the Jenks Freshman Academy and the Math and Science Building at 10 a.m. and continue through 3 p.m. The Jenks High School Ornithology Club will sell pizza and drinks on site.
For information on the event, go to the Tulsa Audubon website at tulsaworld.com/tulsaaudubon
Original Print Headline: Odd duck a late celebrity in Audubon count
Tulsa Eagle Days 2013
Saturday and Sunday
8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Helmerich Park (Riverside Drive and 71st Street)
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jenks High School