News of the Week

March 19, 2015
Birders to Flock in SE Oklahoma May 9-12

   Registration is open for the 7th annual Red Slough Birding Convention. Hosted by the Idabel Chamber of Commerce, the convention appeals to experienced birders and beginning wildlife enthusiasts. Bird-watching opportunities during the event will include chances to see bitterns, rails and other secretive marsh birds, rare woodpeckers and warblers.

   The four-day convention based in Idabel will kick off Saturday, May 9, with keynote speaker Jay Huner entertaining participants with tales from his research in Louisiana. Later in the convention, participants will hear about bird migration research from the University of Oklahoma's Jeff Kelly. Huner will return for the final presentation, "A Bumbling Birder's Big Year" at the May 11 banquet, describing his 2012 search for 346 species in his home state of Louisiana.

   Robert Bastarache, U.S. Forest Service district biologist and event committee member, said the remainder of the convention will be spent in the field. "We've set up six great tour options for our participants," Bastarache said. Morning sessions will be spent touring three conservation areas; Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, Little River National Wildlife Refuge and the McCurtain County Wilderness Area. Afternoon tours will focus on McCurtain County's diverse dragonfly and wildflower communities, as well as the county's state champion trees. Bastarache said, "In addition to several unique plants, reptiles and invertebrates, it's not uncommon for participants to see over 150 species of birds during the convention." Information about each tour and the species that might be encountered can be found on the event's webpage,
   The $125 registration includes six tour options, three presentations, a banquet and the 2015 birding convention T-shirt.


Participants of the Red Slough Birding Convention will likely encounter a purple gallinule during one of the conservation area tours. This colorful bird is a rare breeder in Oklahoma, found only in the extreme southeastern corner of the state. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)