Volume 3 • Issue 11 • November 2009

North American Bird Conservation Initiative

The Migratory Bird Partnership

Birds are a highly visible and important part of our wildlife heritage – both ecologically and economically.  Birds have generated tremendous conservation interest over the years, and they occupy every habitat type across every inch of our continent and the surrounding oceans.  Because many species are migratory, the same bird may occur in Canada, Oklahoma and Mexico all within a six-month period and therefore it is of interest internationally.  In 1999, the U.S., Canada and Mexico developed an international conservation partnership around birds called the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI).  NABCI was created as a unifying partnership to support and link a myriad of bird conservation efforts that were already in existence.  These included national programs such as the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the Partners In Flight Landbird Conservation Plan, as well as species-specific programs around endangered species and game birds.

The state bird of Oklahoma, the scissortail flycatcher is one example of a migratory bird that is supported through the North American Bird Conservation Initiative. Photo by Lesley B. Carson.
NABCI is a partnership of state and federal resource agencies and private conservation organizations across the continent that a share a goal of ensuring healthy populations of all native bird species through sustainable landscapes across North America.  To help unify the existing bird conservation efforts, NABCI divided North American into 67 conservation planning units called Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs).  Oklahoma is divided among six of these regions.  Each BCR has a unique set of priority bird species and bird habitats, but collectively these encompass all of the avian diversity on the continent.

While NABCI has continental goals, the actual conservation work hits the ground through a series of regional partnerships called a conservation joint venture.  Each joint venture is comprised of conservation agencies and organizations that are interested in working together to conserve and enhance native habitats to support bird populations.   The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has entered into partnerships with four conservation joint ventures that encompass all six Oklahoma BCRs.  Each joint venture partnership aims to assess and monitor bird populations, evaluate the habitat needs of key bird species, and implement habitat conservation strategies that will maintain or enhance bird habitats and consequently bird populations.  These  partnerships are relatively new and each is at a different stage in its ability to comprehensively plan and implement habitat conservation for birds, however, all are working in a coordinated manner to more effectively conserve birds.  These partnerships are: the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture (southeastern Oklahoma); the Playa Lakes Joint Venture (western Oklahoma); the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture (northeastern Oklahoma) and the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture (central Oklahoma). The current areas of activity for these joint ventures include the monitoring of bird populations, assessing specific habitat needs for birds, and identifying focus areas for bird conservation.   These partnerships are cost-effective because they encourage states to cooperate and share resources and information across state boundaries rather than recreate and maintain parallel programs in each state.

Written by Mark Howery. Mark is a wildlife diversity biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

This project is funded by the State Wildlife Grant Program. The State Wildlife Grant Program provides federal money to every state and territory for cost-effective conservation aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. This program is administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and continues the long history of cooperation between the federal government and the states for managing and conserving wildlife species. For more information, visit www.teaming.com.

Granite Mountains Provide Opportunities for Watchable Wildlife

So Many Reasons to Visit!

Most people think of southwest Oklahoma as a dry landscape with little or no plants and almost desert-like animals. This could not be further from the truth. 1927 marked the start of something big for the area. In the middle of beautiful granite hills, Altus Dam was constructed. It lies north of the City of Altus and serves as a source of municipal water. Along with the dam, an extensive system of canals was included for irrigation water to be dispersed.

With the granite mountains and water, this is the perfect area for a bald eagle in the winter. Arriving around December, bald eagles visit for about three months to enjoy the warmer winter temperatures. Yes, they do come south to this area simply for the temperatures! The Quartz Mountain Nature Center holds eagle watches during the first part of the year. During 2010, the eagle watches will be January 2nd-3rd, 16th-17th, 30th-31st and February 13th-14th.

For watchable wildlife, Quartz Mountain State Park is a great place to observe the collared lizard's (also known as the mountain boomer) sunning themselves on rocks during sunny mornings. The collared lizard is Oklahoma's state reptile and the lizards in the granite mountains have a unique bluish-green color. Quartz Mountain is also a great place to observe birds that are found in only a few places in Oklahoma such as the canyon wren, rock wren, rufous-crowned sparrow and lesser goldfinch. Of course there are other colorful birds in the park including painted bunting, red-headed woodpecker and Bullock's oriole.

The Quartz Mountain area is also home to the expansive Altus-Lugert Wildlife Management Area. Comprised of 3,600 acres, Altus-Lugert WMA offers many hunting opportunities. With deer, turkey, dove, quail, squirrel, coyote, waterfowl and multiple other species, hunting abounds around the WMA.

Fishing around the WMA can make memories. During the spring, white bass and channel catfish are the species of choice. In the fall and winter (Oct. thru Mar.), the Wildlife Department stocks trout. The trout stocking program at Lake Altus-Lugert has become one of the most popular in the state. It is well worth the drive to this area to enjoy the fishing.

Altus-Lugert WMA has some of the most breathtaking views of any WMA in the state. Photo provided by wildlifedepartment.com.
Views from any side of the lake or WMA alone are simply breathtaking. Photography is one hobby that attracts folks to the area. During the annual Outdoor Oklahoma Reader's Photography Showcase there are usually a few images sent in that capture the area that is know for its unique glistening hillsides.

If you enjoy getting out and seeing unexpected landscaped, unique natural places and observing natural wildlife, this is the place for you. The Quartz Mountain Loop of the Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma takes you around Altus- Lugert WMA and many other beautiful landscapes. For information about the Loop or to see what species you can view, click here.

Although no camping is allowed on the WMA, cabins are available along with the beautiful Quartz Mountain lodge. Along with your stay, try the boating, rock climbing, golfing or miniature golfing!

For more information about Altus-Lugert Wildlife Management Area, contact the area biologist or click here.

Written by Lesley B. Carson. Lesley is a wildlife diversity information specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Bald Eagles Love Oklahoma!

Our many reservoirs and moderate winters provide the perfect place for bald eagles to spend the winter. Oklahomans love Bald Eagles!  Scheduled eagle watches have been a popular wildlife-viewing event in Oklahoma for over a decade.  Eagle watching opportunities are gearing up and the OK Dept. of Wildlife would like to invite you to check out the 2009-2010 statewide eagle viewing events on our website. Depending on winter severity in the northern regions of the United States, 750 to 1,500 Bald Eagles may gather at reservoirs throughout Oklahoma.  It is always a good idea to call ahead to the contact listed at the viewing site to make sure that you are adequately prepared for your eagle adventure. Just imagine, less than 30 years ago, there were fewer than 500 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states.  Due to wildlife management projects, approximately 5700 known pairs are now nesting in the lower 48. Here in Oklahoma, beginning in 1990, occupied Bald Eagle nests have increased from less than 10 to over 60. Take your family, dress warmly and travel to an Oklahoma eagle viewing site to celebrate America’s icon – the Bald Eagle.

Calling all Bluebird Nestbox Monitors and Hummingbird Feeder Participants!

The deadline for providing your information to the OK Wildlife Diversity Program is fast approaching!  If you monitored bluebird nestboxes during the 2009 breeding season (Feb. – Aug.) please send in your monitor form by November 30th to the address listed below.  You can print off your survey form. If you placed a hummingbird feeder at your home starting April 1 through November 1 your survey form is due by December 1 to the address listed below. 

Thank you!  Your input is valuable to the Wildlife Diversity Program.  Results from both 2009 surveys will be mailed to participants and will also be available on our website.

Mail to:

OK Wildlife Diversity

Hummingbird Survey or Bluebird Survey (please list whichever applies)

PO Box 53465

Oklahoma City, OK  73152-3465

Written by Melynda Hickman. Melynda is a wildlife diversity biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Our Mission:

The WILDLIFE DIVERSITY PROGRAM monitors and manages the state's wildlife and fish species that are not hunted or fished.