photos and article by Kathryn Mann
This is the very small and elegant Grey Hairstreak Butterfly, photographed on 6/19/2010 in northeastern Oklahoma.
Grey Hairstreak butterflies are very tiny and can be hard to find because of their size and their ability to blend into the areas where they live and feed. They are part of the Gossamer-wing family of butterflies. I have been enjoying photographing this beautiful creature for many years.
The top side of the Grey Hairstreak butterfly is primarily a dark bluish grey
Yesterday my father and boyfriend convinced me I needed a more all terrain vehicle than the Dodge Caliber I had been using to take down the rutted dirt and gravel roads as well as many open fields I cross over when searching for locations to photograph birds and butterflies in Oklahoma. Below is a picture of me with my new Nissan Xterra SE 4X4 in a remote field in northeastern Oklahoma where I took these photos of the Grey Hairstreak butterfly.
This is me and my new Nissan Xterra 4X4 SE, which I intend to use to get to more remote and challenging terrains to photograph birds and butterflies in Oklahoma
The top side of this butterfly is a dark bluish grey with a orange spot near its tail end. This red spot and the thin bottom hind tail look like a butterfly's head to most predators, and is more likely to be attacked than its real head. Conveniently this rear area also easily detaches from the rest of the Grey Hairstreaks' body.
A Grey Haistreak butterly enjoying breakfast in a tallgrass wetland area of Oklahoma
Grey Hairstreaks are most often found on flowers in open prairies and fields that border forests. The full wing-span of these guys is only 7/8 of an inch.
Photos and Article by Charly Mann
The American Kestrel is the most colorful bird in Oklahoma during the winter months. They are a raptor, like a hawk, and are part of the falcon family because of their sharp hooked bill. On a recent driving trip from northeast Oklahoma to the Panhandle, the American Kestrel was a fairly frequent sight on tall poles near farmland and savanna areas.
An American Kestrel enjoying the view about 8 miles west of Guymon, Oklahoma
The American Kestrel is almost the same size as an American Robin. They are usually about 11 inches long and have a two foot wingspan. They only weigh about 3 1/2 ounces. Female kestrels are a little larger than males. The most distinguishing features of the American Kestrel are the black stripes on their faces and their slate colored blue wings. Males are brighter and more colorful than females. The male kestrel has blue on its wings, while the female's wing is more brown. The male also has a spotted chest, while the female's is streaked.
American Kestrels can fly as fast as 40 mph. They also are usually monogamous and mate for life.They are the smallest falcon in North America. They eat insects, mice, lizards, frogs, small birds, and bats. They are often hunted by their raptor cousins, the Red-Tail Hawk and Peregrine Falcon, as well as Barn and Great Horned Owls.
This American Kestrel was photographed on a tall shrub in a field between Bartlesville and Nowata in December 2009
American Kestrels usually live three years in the wild, but have survived for as long as 17 years in captivity.
Photos and Article by Kathryn Mann
I have often heard the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as I walked through dense wooded areas in Oklahoma, but seeing one is a much rarer occurrence. Because of their shy and quiet nature I am always a little surprised when I see a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but as soon as I see one their distinct long slender shape and coloring make them instantly recognizable.
This Yellow-billed cuckoo is perched on an old power line that lies on the edge of a small dense forest near Ramona, Oklahoma
Yellow-billed Cuckoos are about a foot in length. Their lower bill is indeed mostly yellow, while their curved upper bill is black. They have a long and slender tail that has white spotted black edges. They have a yellow ring around their eye. Their chin, belly and breast are white while their upperparts are grayish with a brown tint. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo's diet consists primarily of insects and small fruits.
These birds winter in the tropical rainforests of South America. During the past several decades there has been significant destruction of its South American habitat as well as the dense forests where it lives and breeds in the United States.
I met up with this Yellow-billed cuckoo as I was walking in a forested and very hilly area in northeastern Oklahoma
The Cuckoo bird has certainly inspired humans in many ways. We call a foolish or crazy person "cuckoo," yet hundreds of years before clocks became common, the first mechanical clock was a Cuckoo Clock. These clocks, which are still popular around the world today, usually keep time with a pendulum and on the hour they emit the sound of a cuckoo bird. The first cuckoo clock was made in 1629. My favorite cuckoo connection is the old folk song The Cuckoo Bird. My favorite version is this extremely rare recording made by the Knoblick Upper 10,000 in 1962.
Article and photos by Charly Mann
This is a Killdeer looking for food along a dirt road I often walk down
The Killdeer is one of the most unusual and fun to observe birds in the world. First because it is a shorebird and looks very much like other shorebirds you would see at the ocean, but it usually lives and breeds far from water in pastures and meadows. Second even though it flies very well, it spends most of its time on the ground. Most of the time I see these guys they are sprinting around in some grass along a dirt road running a couple of feet then stopping to look around and then rushing off again. Because of this I call them the “Walking Bird”, even though they do resort to flight when they are frightened. They are also an especially handsome bird. They are brown on top and white underneath with two black bands across their breast. (Baby Killdeer have only one band). They look much larger than they are because of their long legs and tail. Killdeer also have a red rear end which is only visible when they are airborne.
This Killdeer is running around in some grass not far from Guthrie, Oklahoma
Killdeer build their nest on the ground often in a small depression of gravel along a country road. Their eggs are hard to distinguish from small pebbles. As soon as a baby Killdeer is born it starts out walking following its parents around for food. Baby Killdeer are unable to fly.
This Killdeer is enjoying an afternoon stroll in a grasslands area not far from Ponca City
The Killdeer has a long bill which it uses to probe the earth for insect larvae and worms.
This Killdeer was talking to me as I stood within fifteen feet of it for more than twenty minutes while it ran and walked around looking for food
Adult Killdeer have a unique scheme for protecting their young chicks and eggs. When they detect a predator they pretend to be injured and hold out one wing as if it has been broken and then begin to limp away at a rapid rate drawing away the potential intruder. When it has gotten the predator far enough away it miraculously recovers and takes flight.
Photos and article by Charly Mann
The American Robin is one of the most commonly seen birds in America. They are also the friendliest birds that I have ever encountered. Several times a year when I walk on the Pathfinder trial in Bartlesville one or more Robins will walk along with me for up to a quarter of a mile.
Close-up of an American Robin near my house in Oklahoma
The male Robin is also the happiest bird I know. They are the first bird to greet the new day with a song, and usually the last to bid it goodnight. Their song is a wonderful musical whistle sounding like "cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up." which seems to encapsulate their philosophy on life.
This American Robin recently led the way on a walk I took on the Barlesville Pathfinder trail
Robins are about 8 1/2 inches long. They have a distinguished looking rusted red breast, and dark grey back and wings. Their belly and throats are white. It you look closely you can also see several black stripes on their throat. They have short yellow beaks and white crescents around their eyes. Male and female American Robins are almost indistinquisable, except for their heads. The male's head is black, while the females is grey.
This American Robin and I enjoyed a heavy rainstorm together
American Robins sleep at night perched in trees and bushes.
Close-up of a Male American Robin near Woolaroc
During breeding season male Robins grow black feathers to attract females.
Juvenille American Robin on a fence by Bartlesville Senior High School
These birds wade deep in water to catch small fish.
Robins often get in small ponds and wade waist deep looking for small fish
Robins can live to the age of 14, though six years is the average lifespan.
article and photos by Kathryn Mann
I love Indigo Buntings. They are among the most beautiful birds in Oklahoma and their song is especially melodic. Blue is also my favorite color.
Close up of an Indigo Bunting in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Though the Indigo Bunting appears blue to the human eye, they are actually a black bird. Their feathers, however, diffract light in such a way that they appear to be blue. In the wild these beautiful creatures live from four to eleven years. They are very small, only about 5 ½ inches in length.
The male Indigo bunting has a beautiful song, which he uses to attract females. The songs are unique to the territory a bunting calls its own. It learns the song from an older male bunting. Buntings return to the same area each year.
The Indigo Bunting migrates south as far as 2,000 miles to South America, Mexico, and the West Indies between August and October. They travel in large flocks at night using the stars for navigation.
Male Indigo Buntings spend much of their time at the top of tall trees singing
The Indigo Bunting population is in decline for a number of reasons. The primary cause seems to be that because they migrate at night by the stars, their poor evening vision causes many of them to die by running into tall buildings and radio towers.
If the light is just right you can see that the Indigo Bunting is black and not blue
The male Indigo Bunting makes two major changes when they move to their winter home. First, their feathers turn a yellow-brown like the female, and only a few streaks of blue distinguish the male from the female. Second, they stop singing.
There is a place I often go to see Indigo Buntings. I sometimes bring along some bird seed and place it below a tree where one is perching. I then stand very quietly and watch it come down to enjoy some nourishment.
There are many places in Oklahoma where I see Indigo Buntings in the Spring and Summer. This year I have seen between a half and a third less than last year in these areas.