A curious bird has made a handful of curious appearances in the state, sparking a rare bird alert in the bird watching community and in the media. At least seven limpkins, a bird most often found in the United States in Florida, have been spotted in Oklahoma this spring, with reports coming from Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, near Idabel, the Mary K. Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa, as well as in Wagoner, Mayes, and Carter counties.
While this is the largest number of birds spotted in Oklahoma at one time, it’s not the first time the species has been documented in the state.
Three years ago, before the first limpkin was recorded in the state, David Arbour, biologist aide for the Wildlife Department, was tracking the limpkin expansion into Louisiana with some of his birding friends and wondered if or when the birds might stray northward into Oklahoma.
“We knew it was possible, but I didn’t expect to see a limpkin at Red Slough the very next year,” Arbour said. “I got an early start to my bird survey in July 2020 and saw a large bird leaving the heronry on Pintail Lake at first light. It was probably 200 yards away, but I could see it kept its neck extended in flight and had a floppy flight. My first impression was that it may be a limpkin, but great blue herons will sometimes fly with an extended neck. I worked my way down to the area where I saw the bird land, and a great blue heron flew up and away. So, I wrote down the heron and continued on with the survey.”