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We love to photograph and make high quality documentary style videos of the birds and butterflies of Oklahoma.
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Grey Hairstreak Butterfly Information and Photographs

photos and article by Kathryn Mann

Grey Hairstreak Butterfly eating
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.

Grey Hairstreak Butterfly top of wings on a black-eyed susan
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.

Nissan Xterra in a field of wildflowers
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.

Grey Hairstreak butterfly on a flower in Oklahoma tallgrass wetlands
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.

 
 

 
 
The American Kestrel: Facts and Photos

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.

American Kestrel close up
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.

American Kestel near Bartlesville
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.

 
 

 
 
The Yellow-billed Cuckoo Bird - Facts & Trivia

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.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
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.

 
 

 
 
The Killdeer - A Most Unusual Bird

Article and photos by Charly Mann

Killdeer bird
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.

Killdeer running
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.

Killdeer walking in grass
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.

Killdeer talking
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.

 
 

 
 
American Robin - The World's Happiest Bird

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.

American Robin close-up
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.

American Robin back view
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.

Very Wet American Robin
This American Robin and I enjoyed a heavy rainstorm together

American Robins sleep at night perched in trees and bushes.

Male American Robin
Close-up of a Male American Robin near Woolaroc

During breeding season male Robins grow black feathers to attract females.

Juvenile American Robin
Juvenille American Robin on a fence by Bartlesville Senior High School

These birds wade deep in water to catch small fish.

American Water wading in water
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.

 
 

 
 
Indigo Bunting - Oklahoma's Bluest Bunting

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 Oklahoma
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.

Blue Bunting singing in treetop
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.

Indigo Bunting seen on a treetop with true black color
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.

Close-up of a Blue Bunting eating
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.

 
 


Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.



Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

Red
House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Orange
Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow
Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Green
Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Blue
Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Grey
Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

Black
American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

Brown
American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Various
Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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