Tag Archives: Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge

Wild Wings

Long distance fliers from the north spend much of the winter at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge and Washita NWR in western Oklahoma.
Snow geese prepare to land on a wheat field in Washita NWR on 12-18-2013.
Snow geese prepare to land on a wheat field in Washita NWR on 12-18-2013.
These are all snow geese, but the one on the right is a  juvenile, blue morph. Photo made at Washita NWR on 1-2-2014.
These are all snow geese, but the one on the right is a juvenile, blue morph. Photo made at Washita NWR on 1-2-2014.
The two birds at the top are adult, blue morph snow geese.
The two birds at the top are adult, blue morph snow geese. Until recently the blue morph variant of snow goose was considered to be a separate species known as blue goose.

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A large flock of snow geese shown rising from a wheat field.
A large flock of snow geese shown rising from a wheat field.

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Thousands of snow geese take wing after feeding on a wheat field at Washita NWR. It is not uncommon for 50 or 60 thousand of them to be on the refuge at one time.
Thousands of snow geese take wing after feeding on a wheat field at Washita NWR. It is not uncommon for 50 or 60 thousand of them to be on the refuge at one time.
This and the remainder of the images in this post were made at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This photo of snow geese, made just after sunrise on 1-13-2014 shows motion blur in the wing-tips due to the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/250 sec.
This and the remainder of the images in this post were made at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This photo of snow geese, made just after sunrise on 1-13-2014, shows motion blur in the wing-tips due to the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/250 sec.
The warm color in this and the preceding and following images is a result of early morning light.
The warm color in this and the preceding and following images is a result of early morning light.
These are white-fronted geese. They are named for a small white area on the front of the head.
These are greater white-fronted geese. They are named for a small white area on the front of the head.
This photo shows Canada geese, sometimes incorrectly called Canadian geese, in the foreground and snow geese in the background.
This photo shows Canada geese, sometimes incorrectly called Canadian geese, in the foreground and snow geese in the background.
These ducks are male common mergansers. The females have brown heads.
These ducks are male common mergansers. The females have brown heads.
Sandhill cranes are very large birds, much larger than geese. During migration they can fly over 8,000 feet high  with their 6.5 foot wing span.
Sandhill cranes are very large birds, much larger than geese. During migration they can fly over 8,000 feet high with their 6.5 foot wing span.
Sandhill cranes fly in front of the moon at 8:42 in the morning of !-20-2014. This image is not photoshopped by combining two images. The large size of the moon is a result of using a long telephoto lens.
Sandhill cranes fly in front of the moon at 8:42 in the morning of 1-20-2014. This image is not photoshopped by combining two images. The large size of the moon is a result of using a long telephoto lens.
These are white-fronted geese, with the exception of the second from the top, which is a Canada goose.
These are greater white-fronted geese, with the exception of the second from the top, which is a Canada goose.

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Spring And Summer Visitors

Some birds visit northwestern Oklahoma for only a short time in spring and fall and some raise their young here but fly south for the winter.

Ospreys visit lakes and rivers in Oklahoma as they travel from their winter homes in south Texas, Central and South America to their summer homes farther north where they nest.
Ospreys visit lakes and rivers in Oklahoma as they travel from their winter homes in south Texas, Central and South America to their summer homes farther north where they nest.
An osprey flies over Ft. Supply Lake looking for fish on April, 29th, 2013.
An osprey flies over Ft. Supply Lake looking for fish on April 29th, 2013.
After spotting a fish, they dive into the water, talons first, and grab the fish.
After spotting a fish, they dive into the water, talons first, and grab the fish.
The osprey's feet are equipped with sharp projections which provide a secure grip on the fish which they always carry with the head facing forward.
The osprey’s feet are equipped with sharp projections which provide a secure grip on the fish which they always carry with the head facing forward.
The "fish hawk" as they are also called are always found near water, except when moving from place to place, because fish comprise their entire diet.
The “fish hawk” as they are also called are always found near water, except when moving from place to place, because fish comprise their entire diet.
A female Wilson's phalarope, a member of the sandpiper family, stops to feed at Ft. Supply  Lake as it migrates northward to its breeding grounds.
A female Wilson’s phalarope, a member of the sandpiper family, stops to feed at Ft. Supply Lake as it migrates northward to its breeding grounds.
Wilson's phalarope photos made May 6th, 21013.
Wilson’s phalarope photos made May 6th, 2013.
The American avocet is a much larger shorebird than the Wilson's phalarope.
The American avocet is a much larger shorebird than the Wilson’s phalarope.
American avocets are summer residents of and nest in western Oklahoma, but as far as I know, don't nest at Ft. Supply Lake where these photos were made.
American avocets are summer residents of and nest in western Oklahoma, but as far as I know, don’t nest at Ft. Supply Lake where these photos were made.
They are easily identified by their long, upturned bill and their striking black and white  markings and rust-colored neck and head. In winter, the adult birds rust colored areas turn gray.
They are easily identified by their long, upturned bill, striking black and white markings, and rust-colored neck and head. In winter, the adult bird’s rust colored areas turn gray.
They are very graceful birds and this one seems to be performing a ballet.
They are very graceful birds and this one seems to be performing a ballet.

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The beautiful little blue heron is a migrant or summer resident in much of Oklahoma.
The beautiful little blue heron is a migrant or summer resident in much of Oklahoma. This one was photographed on May 13th, 2013 at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge.
The little blue heron is much smaller than the more common great blue heron and is more blue.
The little blue heron is much smaller than the more common great blue heron and is more blue.
The black-necked stilt is not often seen at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge where this one was photographed on May 13, 2013.
The black-necked stilt is not often seen at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge where this one was photographed on May 13th, 2013.
The black-necked stilt is obviously named for its very long legs. Only the flamingo has longer legs in proportion to its body.
The black-necked stilt is obviously named for its very long legs. Only the flamingo has longer legs in proportion to its body.

Long-legged Wading Birds

The following photographs were made in Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge on May 10, 2012.

The snowy egret is a small member of the heron family. It stands 20-27" tall and has a wing span of 38". The snowy egret is a small member of the heron family. It stands 20-27″ tall and has a wingspan of 38″.

They wade in shallow marshes and ponds seeking food.They wade in shallow marshes and ponds seeking food.

Snowy egrets can be identified by their slender black bills, black legs with yellow feet and small size relative to other white egrets.Snowy egrets can be identified by their slender black bills, black legs with yellow feet and small size relative to other white egrets.

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In the 19th and early 20th centuries the snowy egret was almost hunted to extinction for their fine plumes used to decorate hats.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries the snowy egrets were almost hunted to extinction for their fine plumes used to decorate hats.

This photo includes the white-faced ibis to the left of the snowy egret and in the background along with the little blue heron on the right.

This photo includes the white-faced ibis to the left of the snowy egret and in the background along with the little blue heron on the right.

The great egret is one of the larger members of the heron family and stands 35-41" tall and has a wing span of about 55".

The great egret is one of the larger members of the heron family and stands 35-41″ tall and has a wingspan of about 55″.

Like the snowy egret the great egret was also hunted for its plumes, but has now recovered.

Like the snowy egret, the great egret was also hunted for its plumes, but has now recovered.

This group includes great egrets, snowy egrets and white faced ibises.

This group includes great egrets, snowy egrets and white-faced ibises.

This photo clearly shows the size difference in the great and snowy egrets.

This photo clearly shows the size difference in the great and snowy egrets.

The great egret wades in shallow water on long legs and uses it's long neck to quickly strike and capture its prey.

The great egret wades in shallow water on long legs and uses it’s long neck to quickly strike and capture its prey.

The great egret's diet consists mainly of fish, frogs, snakes and crayfish as shown here.

The great egret’s diet consists mainly of fish, frogs, snakes and crayfish, as shown here.

The white-faced ibis is 18-22" in length and has a wingspan of 37"

The white-faced ibis is 18-22″ in length and has a wingspan of 37″

The ibis uses it's long down-turned bill to probe for insects or crayfish as it is doing here.

The ibis uses it’s long down-turned bill to probe for insects or crayfish as it is doing here.