In “The Most Common Backyard Birds in Oklahoma,” readers will find a comprehensive guide to the bird species that frequent the backyard landscapes of the state. Unlike other articles on the subject, this piece draws its data from the citizen science program eBird, ensuring accuracy and reliability. Along with vivid pictures of each bird species, readers will also discover invaluable tips on attracting these charming creatures to their own backyards. Notably, the article highlights the Northern Cardinal as the most prevalent bird in Oklahoma, followed closely by the Mourning Dove and American Crow. Readers will also be treated to an overview of bird watching in Oklahoma, bird identification techniques, and insights into feeding preferences.
Birds of Oklahoma
Oklahoma is home to a diverse range of bird species, making it a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. In this comprehensive article, we will explore some of the most common backyard birds in Oklahoma, providing detailed descriptions, habitat information, feeding habits, and tips on how to attract these beautiful creatures to your own backyard.
1. Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is the most commonly seen bird in Oklahoma. With its striking red plumage and distinctive crest, it is hard to miss. The male Cardinal boasts vibrant red feathers, while the female is more muted, with a combination of gray and red. These birds prefer open woodlands, parks, and gardens, and are often found near brushy areas and shrubs.
In terms of feeding habits, Northern Cardinals primarily consume seeds, with a preference for sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and cracked corn. They will also eat berries and insects. To attract Northern Cardinals to your backyard, make sure to provide a variety of seed options in feeders, as well as natural food sources such as berry-producing shrubs.
2. Mourning Dove
The Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is another common bird species found in Oklahoma. These graceful birds are known for their soft, cooing calls and slender build. Mourning Doves have a tan-brown coloration with a small black mark on their neck. They are often seen perched on powerlines or foraging on the ground in open areas such as fields, yards, and roadsides.
Feeding mainly on seeds, Mourning Doves have a preference for small grains like millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds. They are ground feeders, so scattering seed on the ground or using low platform feeders is an effective way to attract them to your backyard. Providing access to water, such as a birdbath, is also important as they need to drink regularly.
3. American Crow
The American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a highly intelligent and adaptable bird commonly found in both rural and urban areas of Oklahoma. With its glossy black feathers and distinctively strong call, the American Crow is often associated with the spooky imagery of Halloween.
American Crows are opportunistic feeders, consuming a wide range of food, including insects, small mammals, carrion, fruits, nuts, and even human food scraps. They are known to be resourceful and have been observed using tools to retrieve food. Because of their varied diet, American Crows can be attracted to a backyard by offering a mix of birdseed, scraps, and providing a water source like a birdbath.
4. Blue Jay
The vibrant Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a striking bird with a combination of blue, white, and black plumage. These bold and noisy birds can be found throughout Oklahoma, with a preference for woodlands, forests, and suburban areas with trees for nesting.
Blue Jays are known to be quite versatile in their feeding habits. They consume a variety of foods, including insects, nuts, seeds, berries, and even small vertebrates. To attract Blue Jays to your backyard, provide a platform feeder with a mix of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. Offering water sources like birdbaths or shallow dishes will also entice them to visit.
Attracting Birds to Your Backyard
Birds bring life, color, and melodious tunes to any backyard. Attracting these beautiful creatures requires creating an inviting environment that meets their basic needs. Here are some tips on how to attract birds to your backyard.
Food and Water Sources
Birds rely on a consistent and accessible source of food and water to thrive. Providing a variety of bird feeders filled with different types of seeds can cater to various species’ preferences. Sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, and cracked corn are popular options. However, it’s important to research the specific seed preferences of the birds you wish to attract.
Additionally, ensuring a fresh and clean water source is essential for attracting birds. A birdbath with shallow water or a water fountain can serve as a refreshing spot for birds to bathe and drink. Make sure to clean and refill the birdbath regularly to maintain hygiene.
Birdhouses and Nesting Materials
Birdhouses offer shelter and nesting sites for birds. Different bird species have specific preferences for the shape, size, and entrance hole diameter of their birdhouses. Research the requirements of the birds you wish to attract to ensure you provide appropriate nesting spaces. Adding suitable nesting materials such as twigs, grass, and feathers can further entice birds to make your yard their home.
Creating a bird-friendly landscape involves incorporating plants and trees that provide food, shelter, and nesting sites. Native species are particularly beneficial as they attract insects, which are an important food source for many birds. Consider planting a diverse range of flowering plants, shrubs, and trees with varying heights and dense foliage. These elements will attract a wide range of bird species and provide them with food and shelter throughout the year.
Additionally, leaving small patches of undisturbed areas with fallen leaves and brush piles can offer natural foraging opportunities and hiding spots for birds. Avoid using pesticides in your yard, as they can harm birds and their food sources.
Overview of Birds and Bird Watching in Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s diverse habitats, ranging from prairies and plains to forests and wetlands, provide a favorable environment for an impressive array of bird species. Bird watching, or birding, is a popular activity among nature enthusiasts and offers an opportunity to observe and appreciate the beauty and behavior of birds in their natural habitats.
Bird Diversity in Oklahoma
Oklahoma boasts over 400 bird species, making it a birdwatching paradise. The state’s central location in the United States and its varying habitats foster a rich bird diversity. From songbirds and waterfowl to raptors and shorebirds, each region of the state offers unique birding experiences, attracting both local and migratory bird species.
Important Bird Areas
Certain areas in Oklahoma have been recognized as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) due to their significance for bird conservation. These IBAs provide critical habitat for breeding, wintering, and migrating birds. Examples of IBAs in Oklahoma include the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area.
Seasonal Bird Migrations
Oklahoma lies within the Central Flyway, a major bird migration route. During spring and fall, millions of birds pass through the state, making it a prime location for witnessing spectacular migratory movements. The spring migration brings a wave of colorful songbirds, while the fall migration showcases large flocks of waterfowl and raptors.
Bird watchers in Oklahoma can take advantage of these seasonal migrations by visiting well-known birding hotspots such as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and the Gloss Mountains State Park.
Identifying birds can be a rewarding and enriching part of birding. Understanding the physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat preferences of different bird species can enhance your birdwatching experience. Here are some resources to help you identify birds in Oklahoma.
Field guides are essential tools for bird identification. These guides contain detailed information about bird species, including illustrations, photographs, range maps, and descriptions of their appearance, behavior, and habitat. Popular field guides for North American birds include “The Sibley Guide to Birds” by David Allen Sibley and “National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America.”
The internet has revolutionized bird identification, providing birders with a wealth of online resources. Websites such as eBird, All About Birds, and Audubon have extensive databases containing photos, range maps, and bird songs. These resources allow birdwatchers to search for specific bird species and access in-depth information for accurate identification.
Mobile applications have become increasingly popular among birdwatchers for on-the-go bird identification. Apps like Merlin Bird ID, iBird Pro, and Audubon Bird Guide offer features such as photo recognition, bird songs, maps, and personalized checklists. These apps provide a convenient and interactive way to identify birds in the field.
Understanding the feeding preferences of birds can help you attract specific species to your backyard. Birds have diverse dietary requirements, which can be categorized into three main groups: seed-eating birds, insect-eating birds, and fruit-eating birds.
Seed-eating birds, such as finches, sparrows, and cardinals, primarily consume seeds. Providing a variety of seeds, such as sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and nysergass, can attract these birds to feeders. Different seed types may attract different species, so experimentation may be necessary to find the perfect combination.
Insect-eating birds, including warblers, flycatchers, and swallows, rely on insects as their main food source. To attract these birds, create a bird-friendly environment with diverse plant species that attract insects. Avoid using chemical pesticides, as they can harm both the insects and the birds that depend on them. Birdbaths and water features can also attract insect-eating birds by providing a water source for them to drink and bathe.
Fruit-eating birds, such as orioles and thrushes, feed on a variety of fruits and berries. Planting fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, such as elderberries, holly, and serviceberries, can attract these birds to your yard. This provides a natural food source for them while adding beauty and color to your landscape.
Enjoying backyard birds is a wonderful way to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the avian world. By understanding the preferences of different bird species and creating a welcoming environment, you can attract a diverse range of birds to your backyard. Remember to provide food and water sources, birdhouses and nesting materials, and a well-planned landscape that provides both shelter and food.
Birdwatching is not only a pleasurable hobby; it can also contribute to citizen science efforts. Observations of birds can be reported to programs like eBird, contributing to the understanding of bird populations, local biodiversity, and conservation efforts.
By attracting and observing birds in your backyard, you become an active participant in the conservation of these magnificent creatures. Through simple actions, such as providing food, water, and suitable habitats, you can make a valuable contribution to the well-being of birds and promote their conservation in Oklahoma and beyond. So grab your binoculars, set up your feeders, and enjoy the fascinating world of Oklahoma’s backyard birds!