Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sequoyah County in Top 10 for Bird Watchers

Sequoyah County has a new claim to fame, a new attraction. That attraction used to be a bit of a secret to everybody who doesn’t live in Sequoyah County. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) unmasked that secret last week when it listed the state’s top places to watch birds.

Sequoyah County is number 10 on the list of top counties to observe the state’s birds, and the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), south of Vian, is number two on the state’s Top Hot Spots to observe birds. 

The ODWC, which has to be the best of its kind due to its quality, reported on the county in its March 22 “The Wild Side” email bulletin. The reported numbers, on the birds observed in the county, were taken from The Great Backyard Bird Count, hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society on Feb. 16 through 20.

Most of the birds were, of course, spotted at the Sequoyah NWR, reported by bird watchers participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The report confirms 61 bird species were reported in the county, 53 of which were spotted at the Sequoyah NWR.

Birds spotted at the refuge include ducks of all varieties, flocks of snow geese that may reach up to 20,000 in number, the largest flock in the state, and, of course, bald eagles that nest in several locations. An estimated 250-plus bird species are thought to use the bottomland forests and associated habits in eastern Oklahoma.

Now the ODWC is gearing up for another citizen-scientist project, the Virtual Spring BioBlitz, which begins April 1. This project is hosted by the Oklahoma Biological Survey, and is free.

To participate, set up a free account at iNaturalist.org and join the Virtual Spring BioBlitz! OK 2017 Project. Participants record observations using a smart phone app or add observations directly to the website. Although the project doesn’t start until April 1, participants may practice by recording observations right away.

Participation is free and prizes will be awarded to the top observers. New challenges will be posted each week with opportunities to win additional prizes and compete with fellow citizen scientists statewide.

During last year's inaugural virtual BioBlitz!, more than 2,000 observations were made, inventorying 701 species in the state. Get more information about this and other Oklahoma BioBlitz! projects by searching for Oklahoma BioBlitz! on Facebook.

Sequoyah County may make it into the top 10 again.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com

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