eWildlifer – newsletter of The Wildlife Society

For stories on the BLM’s wild horse management plan and other issues of interest to wildlife management, check out the latest eWildlifer from TWS.

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Playa Post Vol. 13, #3 – Congratulations on a national award!

Congratulations to the Playa Lakes and Rainwater Basin joint ventures, recently recognized for their conservation collaborations with the 2015 Wings Across the Americas Award.   For these and other uplifting stories, check out the latest Playa Post, the newsletter of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture.

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Congratulations are due as well to George Fenwick and the American Bird Conservancy – celebrating 20 years of bringing the birdy back!

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Big flight northward on St. Patrick’s Day eve

Next to actually watching birds stream north in spring, I think I most enjoy watching their radar echoes as they stream north in spring. My personal favorite compilation is featured at Paul Hurtado’s Birding Page.  (Thank you Paul for this resource!)  New Jersey Audubon features this page that provides an excellent explanation of NEXRAD and bird migration.

Yesterday (3/16/15) was warm (80s F) and windy, with gusts from the south up to about 20 mph.  It was setting up to be a big flight for northbound migrants.

The action started just after 5 pm (with local sunset around 8 pm here in Stillwater) and was still going this morning with echoes up to the most recent image taken 7:41 this morning, 3/17/15.  Here’s the apparent peak from last night ~ 8:41 pm:

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One (of many) cool thing I noticed concerned the flow of radar echo intensity from the TX/LA coast and then in central Arkansas.  Check out this sequence:

5:41 pm 3/16/15

5:41 pm, 3/16/15

7:41 pm, 3/16/15

7:41 pm, 3/16/15

9:41 pm, 3/16/15

9:41 pm, 3/16/15

11:41 pm, 3/16/15

11:41 pm, 3/16/15

1:41 am, 3/17/15

1:41 am, 3/17/15

3:41 am, 3/17/15

3:41 am, 3/17/15

5:41 am, 3/17/15

5:41 am, 3/17/15

The only question remaining is why I’m still indoors today!

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American Woodcocks, Timberdoodles, and Bog Suckers

All the common names are comical for these aberrant shorebirds, but their displays are magical in the moonlight of those first warm evenings in spring.

11–12 March – American Woodcock displays in Payne County

Thanks to the sharp ears of Dr. Scott Loss, we have a new location in Payne County to enjoy the brief spring courtship displays of the American Woodcock. This is on Richmond Rd., just east of its intersection with Country Club Rd.  Richmond Rd. is in good shape at this section, and there seems to be light traffic there in the evening with ample room to pull over.

From left: Eric Duell, Jon Harris, Fidel Atuo, Tim O'Connell, Nick Jaffe, and Caitlin Laughlin - ready to be wowed by some American Woodcocks.

From left: Eric Duell, Jon Harris, Fidel Atuo, Tim O’Connell, Nick Jaffe, and Caitlin Laughlin – ready to be wowed by some American Woodcocks.


The show started both nights with peenting between 7:45 and 7:48 and aerial displays beginning around 7:55 and concluding around 8:20 pm CDT. It’s really just that window between 7:55 and 8:05 that it’s light enough to see them in the air.

This compilation from 3/11/15 includes scolding Northern Mockingbird, background dogs and cattle, the piping whistle of Strecker’s chorus frog (lifer frog for me!), the querulous wheah? of Spotted Towhee, singing Field Sparrows (including finchlike “long song”), and others.  There are also owls: Barred, Great Horned, and a tantalizing series of very faint screeches toward the end of the recording that I suspect to have been at least two Long-eared Owls. (Skip to 6:38 to listen to the putative owls, soft in the background between dog barks.)

3:11:15 American Woodcock displays 1

This one from 3/12/15 includes a very close Song Sparrow tseet! call plus some Northern Cardinals, American Robins, and Canada Geese:

3:12:15 American Woodcock displays 2

Some great coyote sounds out there, too!

3:11:15 coyote chorus

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Migration is now fully upon us!

Check it out on the radar!

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Canada’s National Bird Contest!

I love birds, and I love Canada.  I’ve never not had a great time in Canada or when birding, and birding in Canada has been wonderful.  So it is with a sense of great excitement that I share with you this contest to name a national bird for Canada!

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Go vote today – here’s mine:

Gray Jay/Canada Jay/Whiskey Jack because . . .

The national bird should occur across the country.
The national bird should not leave the country when it gets cold, eh? (sorry common loon)
The national bird should not also be common much of anywhere else. (sorry ruffed grouse)
The national bird should not also have the nickname “fool hen”.  (sorry spruce grouse)
The national bird should be a survivor, with a plucky spirit, a keen mind, and an endearing sense of humor.  It’s Whiskey Jack, wings-down.

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Birding Community E-Bulletin – March 2015

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The Birding Community E-bulletin is distributed to active and concerned birders, those dedicated to the joys of birding and the protection of birds and their habitats.

This issue is sponsored by the producers of superb quality birding binoculars and scopes, Carl Zeiss Sport Optics:

You can access an archive of past E-bulletins on the website of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA):


In 2005, the British Ornithologists’ Union split what we call Black Scoter into two species: the Common Scoter (Europe) and the Black Scoter (North America). In 2010, the American Ornithologists’ Union echoed this decision. The males of the two species can be differentiated by the color and shape of their bills – the Black possessing a large yellow knob on its black bill, the Common displaying only a small saddle of yellow on its straighter and longer gray-black bill. The Common Scoter breeds across northern Eurasia, from northeast Iceland, the northern British Isles, Norway, and eastward into Siberia.

For years, eager birders in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern U.S. have picked through flocks of scoters hoping to discover North America’s first record of Common Scoter. Accordingly it was a real surprise when on 25 January California birder, Bill Bouton, photographed what he thought was a strange-looking Black Scoter in the boat basin of Crescent City, in far northwestern California. Five days after Bouton and his friends returned home, he went through his photos and was perplexed with the scoter shots. Imagine his surprise when he concluded that the bird was a Common Scoter!
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