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Birding enthusiasts flock to Edmond's J.L. Mitch Park

Birding enthusiasts gather J.L. Mitch Park in Edmond.
BY HENRY DOLIVE Modified: December 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm •  Published: December 12, 2012

A shout went up from the north parking lot at J.L. Mitch Park, even before the birding enthusiasts had begun their walk.

“There's one — over there!”

A bird — one of the more than 200 varieties that have been identified inside the 280-acre northwest Edmond park — had been spotted low in the trees, and members of the group reached for their binoculars.

Susy Hall, of Edmond, is a member of the group that walks every day along the trail through the park at 1501 W Covell Road. She said birders aren't too particular about the birds they encounter on their excursions.

“We're here to see what we see,” she said.

She and her husband, Jeff, walk about a mile a day, while others in the group walk longer distances.

Not only is cold weather not an impediment, but birding seems to be better when it's cold.

Windy days are good because birds stay low in the trees.

Birding is generally best in the early morning, she said. When they wake up, “they're hungry and are looking for food.”

Later in the day they're resting in the treetops and are harder to see.

“This is our exercise,” she explained as the group started out.

“We don't realize we're exercising because we're having so much fun. It's free, and it's close to our house.”

Hall said Mitch Park is an excellent place to see birds because of its lush habitat.

Birders generally don't trespass, she said, “so it's great to be able to come here.”

Hall said her interest in birds started when she took a college ornithology class and increased about 10 years ago as she sought a hobby when her youngest son approached high school graduation.

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Metro-area birds

Joe LaFleur, producer of the DVD “Better Bird-watching in the Southwest,” lists these birds as common to the Oklahoma City metro area:

Winter: Dark-eyed junco and white-crowned sparrow, often seen at yard feeders; cedar waxwings, often seen at birdbaths; green-winged teal, hawks and eagles, found at lakes and rivers.

Year-round: Yard feeder birds such as northern cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, American goldfinch, mourning dove, red-winged blackbird, northern mockingbird, great blue heron, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl.

Spring and fall migrants: Wilson's warbler, and shorebirds such as greater yellowlegs.

Summer: Indigo bunting, often seen at feeders.

State birds

Wild Birds Unlimited lists these birds as common to Oklahoma: Northern cardinal, black-capped chickadee, red-tailed hawk, osprey, peregrine falcon, American robin, black phoebe, blue jay, mourning dove, northern mockingbird, Baltimore oriole, western scrub-jay, cedar waxwing, American goldfinch, Eastern bluebird, American crow.

Note: Oklahoma's official state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, is seen in the summer, and migrates to Mexico and Central America in winter.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Guide


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