Caddo Maples

November 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm (Autumn, Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

Caddo Maples, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

Caddo Maples, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

Walking through a forested canyon in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Okla., I felt like I was back in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park in Texas. Big Bend was the first park I worked at when the Great Recession ended my art business, and it changed my life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Heart Rock and October Surprises

November 11, 2016 at 5:00 am (Autumn, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers)

Heart Rock, Wichita Mts Wildlife Refuge OK

Heart Rock, Wichita Mts Wildlife Refuge OK

This is actually a pretty big rock. You have to view it from above to see it’s a heart. The bottom of the heart is about head-high when you’re next to it.

Wichita Mts Wildlife Refuge, mid-Oct, Okla.

Wichita Mts Wildlife Refuge, mid-Oct, Okla.

It’s easy to get to, but there’s no sign, and it requires a little bit of rock scrambling. But the grip on your shoes is good. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prairie abundant with color

November 3, 2016 at 5:00 am (National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildflowers)

From this spring’s MeadowLarking column in the Fort Sill Tribune. Double click on each image to enlarge it for easier reading.

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Photos copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Mammatus and other oddities

October 31, 2016 at 5:00 am (Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR) ()

From my MeadowLarking column in the Fort Sill Tribune. Double click on the image to enlarge it and read the text better.

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All photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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When dragons fly

October 30, 2016 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

From my MeadowLarking column in the Fort Sill Tribune. Double click on the image to enlarge it and read the text better.

dragons-fly

All photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Dove bars for da boids

October 28, 2016 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

From my MeadowLarking column in the Fort Sill Tribune. Double click on the image to enlarge it and read it easier.

Read it here too.

FORT SILL, Okla., July 21, 2016 — Doves love birdseed. But they don’t fit too well on tube bird feeders because the perches are too narrow. So I scatter seed on the ground for them, and at times I’ll have eight white-winged doves happily pecking at the “bar” below while the sparrows and finches, the cardinals and an occasional tufted titmouse or Carolina chickadee, gorge themselves from the hanging feeders. Once I had mourning and Eurasian collared doves with them, and twice I’ve seen a lone Inca dove.

Incas are a mainly southwestern dove, smaller than the white-winged, with thin black bills. One unique attribute is the way their body feathers are darker colored at the edges, giving them a scaly look. It’s really quite lovely.

Inca doves are known for creating little pyramids of themselves to keep warm, or maybe just to be extra friendly. I’ve seen this at Big Bend National Park in Texas. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says these pyramids can be three layers high and consist of up to 12 birds. We are at the northeastern edge of their range, according to the Audubon bird map, and they prefer suburban yards and urban parks.

Mourning doves are one of the most widespread in the 48 states, found year-round in all but a few north-central states which host them only in summer. They have long pointed tails and are often seen perched on utility wires or fences.

In my yard, however, they are outnumbered by the white-winged doves, which do not even show up on the Audubon map for southern Oklahoma. Hmmm.

They are large silky brown birds with bright red legs, red eyes and blue eye shadow. Of course, the most notable field mark for sitting birds is the white crescent at the edge of the wing, which shows dramatically in flight contrasting with the dark primary feathers, and complemented by the white edges of the fanned-out tail. As doves go, they are striking.

The Eurasian collared dove, as you might gather from its name, is an immigrant, arriving in Florida in 1980s and spreading to about two-thirds of the continental United States. They are a chalky gray, paler than the other three, with a black collar that extends around the back of the neck.

The four doves can be readily distinguished by their calls. The mourning dove’s sounds like a lament, hence its name. (Ooh aah ooooh ooooh ooooh). The white-winged asks “who cooks for youuuu?” and the collared dove has “hoo hooo hoo” on repeat. The two-note “coo-coo” of the Inca dove can be read as “no hope.”

Feeding birds is a popular hobby in America, and even if you don’t want to spend money on birdfeeders, just scattering seed on the ground will attract a wide variety of avian citizens. Keep the “bar” stocked, add some cracked corn and peanuts, and the squirrels will join the sideshow. You can enjoy your own Dove Bar while you watch.

dove-bars

Photos copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Mississippi kites

October 27, 2016 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

From my MeadowLarking column in the Fort Sill Tribune. The kites have migrated south now, and I await their return in May. Double click on the image to enlarge it.

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Photos copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Kill-deer! Translating birdsong into English

October 26, 2016 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

From my MeadowLarking column in the Fort Sill Tribune. Double click on the images to enlarge them and read the text better.

You can also read it here:

FORT SILL, Okla., March 17, 2016 — For people who are musically inclined, it might not be so difficult remembering all the different bird songs, especially those of species here only part of the year. But for some of us, the only way we can remember them is to translate them into English.

Birds such as the killdeer, a very common plover in this area, make it easy. They call out their own names. “Kill-deer! Kill-deer!” Well, sort of.

The eastern phoebe conveniently identifies itself. “Phee BEE!” Bobbing its tail as it perches is another way to separate the phoebe from other flycatchers.

I’ve lived all over the country, and I can tell you with some degree of authority that birds, like people, have regional accents. I remember hearing a robin in Arizona sounding very different from ones I heard in Seattle, and the robins in Maine were different from both. Robins generally sing, “Wake up, cheer up, cheery up, wake up!” Or something along those lines.

Take the cardinal, official bird of seven states. Growing up in Louisiana, I heard the male cardinal distinctly call out, “cheer, cheer, what? what? what? what?” But here in Oklahoma, it might just be “cheer, cheer, cheer.”

The chestnut-sided warbler, which we might see migrating through soon, greets us with “pleased pleased pleased to meet yoooouuuu.”

The mockingbird, which five states have claimed as THEIR state bird, not only has a delightful repertoire of its own, it frequently incorporates other bird songs seamlessly into its aria. Mocking them as it were.

Some of the larger flycatchers seem to be crying out for “beer,” or “three beers.”

A plain brown sparrow in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Ga., the endangered Bachman’s sparrow, makes itself pretty scarce most of the year. But during breeding season it sits atop a stem or branch and sings out, “here kitty kitty kitty” three times, each phrase in a different octave.

The black-capped chickadee’s song is “hey, sweetie” but its call does distinctly sound like “chick-a-dee-dee-dee.” The Carolina chickadee has a four-note song “phee, beee, phee, bay” with the first and third notes pitched higher. Its “chickadee” call is more rapid and harsh than its cousin’s.
The white-throated sparrow sings, “oh, sweet Canada Canada Canada.” Even if it’s born in the U.S.A.

An easy website to learn birds and their songs is from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s AllAboutBirds.org website. Various apps for your smart phone can replace a bird book and help identify songs in the field. iBird is my favorite. The Lite version is free but the more robust version costs money. The free National Audubon Society’s Merlin is geared for beginners.

Larkwire is a fee-based app with beginning to advanced versions and includes a song ID game.
Apps or websites are great for figuring out birdsongs when they can’t be translated into English

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Photos copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Head ’em up, move ’em out

October 25, 2016 at 5:00 am (National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR) (, )

From my MeadowLarking column in the Fort Sill Tribune. Double click on the image to enlarge and read the text better.

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Photos copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Where the buffalo roam

October 22, 2016 at 5:00 am (National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

From my MeadowLarking column in The Fort Sill Tribune. Double click on an image to enlarge it and to better read it.

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Photos copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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