Tag Archives: birds

Birds of Prairie and Woodland

The scissor-tailed flycatcher is Oklahoma's state bird.
The scissor-tailed flycatcher is Oklahoma’s state bird.
It is a very acrobatic flyer and catches insects in mid-air.
It is a very acrobatic flyer and catches insects in mid-air.
Primarily a resident of open plains, it nests in Oklahoma and a handful of other states and winters in Central America.
Primarily a resident of open plains, it nests in Oklahoma and a handful of other states and winters in Central America.
The long tail makes adult scissortails easy to identify either perched or in flight.  Juvenile birds have a shorter tail and are less colorful.
The long tail makes adult scissortails easy to identify either perched or in flight. Juvenile birds have a shorter tail and are less colorful. 
Scissor-tailed flycatcher photos all made in Cooper Wildlife Management Area, May 2012.
Scissor-tailed flycatcher photos all made in Cooper Wildlife Management Area, May 2012.
Male lesser prairie chickens gather each spring on areas called leks to display and dance for the hens.
Male lesser prairie chickens gather each spring on areas called leks to display and dance for the hens.
Two males will sometimes square off and fight with each other for the attention of the females.
Two males will sometimes square off and fight with each other for the attention of the females.
Possibly due to spring weather being warm earlier than usual in 2012, mating activity seemed to be almost over in late April when these photos were made.
Possibly due to spring weather being warm earlier than usual in 2012, mating activity seemed to be almost over in late April when these photos were made.
These lesser prairie chicken photos were made on the Selman Ranch in Harper County, Oklahoma.
These lesser prairie chicken photos were made on the Selman Ranch in Harper County, Oklahoma.

For more lesser prairie chicken photos with the birds in full display, please type “lesser prairie chicken” in the search box at the top of this page.

Red-bellied woodpeckers are more commonly seen in central and eastern Oklahoma and the southeastern U. S. than in Woodward where these were photographed.
Red-bellied woodpeckers are more commonly seen in central and eastern Oklahoma and the southeastern U. S. than in Woodward where these were photographed.
This is a female. It has less red on its head than the male above.
This is a female. It has less red on its head than the male above.
Male on left and female on right in this photo. European starlings take over half of red-bellied woodpecker nest holes in some areas. This unfortunately seems to be the case with this nest.
Male on left and female on right in this photo. European starlings take over half of red-bellied woodpecker nest holes in some areas. This unfortunately seems to be the case with this nest.

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The red underside for which it is named is not often visible as in this photo.
The red underside for which it is named is not often visible as in this photo.

All images on this site are © copyrighted by Larry D. Brown and may not be reproduced in any manner without permission.

 

The Osprey

The osprey is a large raptor found world-wide.  Also known as fish hawks, they live near water and eat fish almost exclusively.  These were photographed at Fort Supply Lake as they stopped briefly on their migration through the area.

With their long, slender wings, they fly effortlessly above the water looking for fish.
With their long, slender wings, they fly effortlessly above the water looking for fish.
The osprey's feet have sharp barbs on the soles giving them a strong grip on slippery fish.
They are 21-24" in length and have a wingspan of 54-72".
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The osprey's feet are equipped with sharp barbs on the soles to allow a strong grip on slippery fish. The two black spots are flies.

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They spent several days fishing the lake in late April before heading north.

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All images on this site are © copyrighted by Larry D. Brown and may not be reproduced in any manner without permission.

The Ancient Dance Of The Lesser Prairie Chicken

In the spring male lesser prairie chickens gather on a booming ground called a lek to display for females.
In the spring, male lesser prairie chickens gather on a booming ground called a lek to display for females. Photographed on April 12, 2011 on a ranch in Harper County, Oklahoma.

The males often square off and fight as part of this ancient mating ritual.  The warm color in this image is due to the early morning light.
The males often square off and fight as part of this ancient mating ritual. The warm color in this image is due to the early morning light.
Only the males have the reddish air sacs on their neck. They inflate the sacs with air which makes various sounds when released including the booming sound which can carry for great distances.
Only the males have the reddish air sacs on their neck. They inflate the sacs with air which makes various sounds when released, including the booming sound which can carry for great distances.
The mating ritual proceeds regardless of weather such as heavy fog the morning of April 8, 2011.
The mating ritual proceeds regardless of weather, such as heavy fog the morning of April 8, 2011.
When not inflated, the air sacs are barely visible or not visible at all.
When not inflated, the air sacs are barely visible or not visible at all.
The hen chooses a male with which to mate from those performing for her attention.
The hen chooses a male with which to mate from those performing for her attention.
The males perform a dance by stomping their feet rapidly and rotating in a circle.  It is believed that the Plains Indians imitation of these movements was the origin of some of their dances.
The males perform a dance by stomping their feet rapidly and rotating in a circle. It is believed that the Plains Indians' imitation of these movements was the origin of some of their dances.

Unfortunately,  the population of these interesting birds has been declining for a number of years and they are nearing endangered status.  Due to their habitat requirements, they only inhabit a relatively small area comprised of northwest Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, southeast Colorado, northeast New Mexico, and the northeast Texas Panhandle.  They need large areas of shortgrass prairie where there are no tall trees or tall structures which they perceive as perching places for raptors, their primary natural predators. Their habitat has become fragmented by the tilling of rangeland for farming and it is believed that the recent construction of wind farms and transmission lines also plays a role in this habitat loss.

If you wish to see more lesser prairie chicken photos, please scroll to the bottom of this page and click on “older entries.”

All images on this site are © copyrighted by Larry D. Brown and may not be reproduced in any manner without permission.

Geese

Winter brings many thousands of geese to wildlife refuges in Oklahoma. 100,000 or more geese may inhabit a single refuge. I have photographed on three of the four state refuges which attract large numbers of geese.

Snow goose, Sequoyah National Wildlife RefugeSnow goose, Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Snow geese (blue phase in middle), Sequoyah National Wildlife RefugeSnow geese (blue phase in center), Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Snow geese, Sequoyah National Wildlife RefugeSnow geese, Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Snow geese landing on Sequoyah National Wildlife RefugeSnow geese landing on Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

_IGP2938wCanada geese and moon, Washita National Wildlife Refuge

_IGP0446wSnow geese and Canada geese, Washita National Wildlife Refuge

_IGP0480wCanada geese and snow geese, Washita National Wildlife Refuge

_IGP6509Canada geese, Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge

The Lesser Prairie Chicken

The lesser prairie chicken is on the verge or being placed on the endangered species list. This member of the grouse family has always had a limited range and that range is becoming more limited due to fragmentation of habitat made worse recently by the establishment of large wind farms in northwest Oklahoma. I have photographed them the last two springs during their booming season which is the time when males gather on breeding grounds called leks to do an amazing courtship ritual to impress the hens. These were photographed from a blind on a lek in Harper County, Oklahoma.
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