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Oklahoma City intersection a haven for birds, bird-watchers

Thousands of migratory birds flock to NW 10 and Council Road for the summer.

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: June 3, 2010
The great egrets are the first to arrive, and they're the ones that pick the spot. Maybe it's because they're so great.

Every summer I'm intrigued by a grove of trees just southwest of NW 10 and Council Road. It's the temporary home for about 10,000 birds from Central and South America.

They all fly north from different places, and eventually they'll keep flying north to different destinations.

But for a few weeks, they'll all be here.

Wildlife experts don't know why the birds choose this spot. Sometimes it will vary a bit — maybe a little west, maybe a little north. But NW 10 and Council Road seems to be the spot.

The great egrets usually come in March, the little blue herons in April and everybody else after that. They hang out in a giant bird festival until the weather turns cool.

Then they all leave in different groups until all that's left is an empty grove.

No matter where you live, this is something worth seeing. Here are some tips for visiting the egret colony:

• Don't get too close to the birds. They're protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so no smacking them around either.

• Don't try to feed them. They eat insects and such; they're not interested in your sandwich. Unless you have an insect sandwich.

• Go when the temperature is a little cooler. The warmer it is, the more the bird colony smells like, you know, a bunch of birds.

• If you want to avoid the smell and crowded nesting area, go out to Lake Hefner or Lake Overholser for a more peaceful view of birds searching for food.

• Take your camera. And insect sandwich.

Council Road colony species

→Great egret: Most stand almost 4 feet tall. They have black legs and a yellowish bill. They primarily eat fish.

→Cattle egret: About 80 percent of the Council Road colony are these. They have white feathers, yellowish bills and legs and stand about 2

feet tall. They usually eat grasshoppers, crickets and beetles.

→Little blue heron: Their feathers are a purple-blue color, and the tips of their bills are black. They stand about 3 feet tall. They primarily eat fish.

→Black-crowned night heron: These white and black birds have red eyes and are mostly nocturnal. They eat fish, frogs, crawfish, snakes and sometimes the young of other herons.

→Snowy egret: This species is the least common in the Council Road colony. They have white feathers, yellow feet and black bills and legs. They eat mostly crawfish.

Source: State Wildlife Conservation Department


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