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It's a winter wonderland for wildlife in Oklahoma

It's a winter wonderland for wildlife at Oklahoma state parks.
BY KELI CLARK Published: January 13, 2013

Now that the holidays have passed, it's time to put those gifts we received to good use.

Our electronic and digital devices can offer virtual reality on a small screen, but there is not a handheld gadget that provides the fresh air and sunshine that rejuvenates our souls like the actual image. Instead of a telephone or tablet, break out the binoculars, charge the camera batteries, slip on comfortable hiking boots and make your way to an Oklahoma State Park, where angry orange birds and snickering green pigs do not exist.

One of the most popular wildlife attractions this time of year are real birds such as bald eagles and waterfowl that make Oklahoma's lakes and rivers their wintertime destination. Several state parks and wildlife refuges host eagle watches where guests can view the majestic birds up close.

Partnering with the nearby Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge at Vian, Tenkiller Park naturalist Leann Bunn goes an extra step to ensure guests get a peek at the winged wonders.

“Before the tour begins, we observe a pair of eagles via a webcam that is placed above their nest within the refuge,” she explains, “then we discuss the natural history of the southern bald eagles. Along with eagle sightings, we observe other animal species that live within the refuge.”

After the morning tour through the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, loon watches are offered in the afternoon at Tenkiller State Park.

At Lake Thunderbird State Park near Norman, the eagle watch begins at the Discovery Cove Nature Center with an informational program that includes photographs and articles on display.

“Our program will share the unique history about the life of a bald eagle, an account of their near extinction in much of the United States and their subsequent re-establishment,” said naturalist Kathy Furneaux. “We also talk about ways to recognize bald eagles and distinguish them from other large birds.”

Participants travel by car to several sites where eagles are likely to be seen perched or in flight. Other birds may include great blue and green herons, gulls, coots, Canada geese and occasionally an osprey or a flock of white pelicans.

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