Volume 2 • Issue 5 • May 2008

Patch Burn Management

Enhancing Habitat for Imperiled Grassland Birds

Many grassland bird species in Oklahoma are in rapid decline due to multiple factors. Habitat fragmentation, invasive species, urban sprawl and an increased number of predators are some of these. The lack of prescribed fire has a direct impact on the composition of habitats.

Distance sampling was used to estimate abundance and diversity of grassland birds during the summers of 2006 and 2007.  We established 12 point-transects in each pasture for a total of 60 point-transects on Cooper Wildlife Management Area.  We sampled each transect 3 times (mid-May, mid-June, and mid-July) during each year.  At each point, all birds seen and heard were counted and the distance to the bird was measured using a laser rangefinder.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers were one of the most common recorded species in 2007 on Cooper WMA. Photo by Lesley B. Carson.
Birds were monitored to check fledgling success. Food sources and habitat were also sampled to determine the sustainability and health of the ecosystem.

During 2006 and 2007, 53 bird species were identified on the WMA. In 2006, the group located 99 nests representing 13 species. The most common bird species encountered were field sparrow, Cassin's sparrow, lark sparrow and mourning dove.

In 2007, nests representing 18 bird species were located. The most common species found were lark sparrow, scissor-tailed flycatcher and northern mockingbird. The least common birds that were recorded were western and eastern kingbird, wild turkey, red-headed woodpecker and blue grosbeak.

This project is funded by the State Wildlife Grants Program.  The State Wildlife Grants 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.

Written by Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf. Dr. Fuhlendorf is a professor of natural resource ecology and management at Oklahoma State University.

A Hidden Surprise

Heyburn Wildlife Management Area

Wild turkeys are quite common but heavily hunted at Heyburn WMA. Photo by Lesley B. Carson.
If you are looking for a great fishing spot or a scenic, beautiful campground, the Heyburn Wildlife Management Area near Sapulpa should hit the spot.

Heyburn WMA is a 5,865 acre area surrounding Heyburn Lake, located south of Hwy. 33, east of Hwy. 48, and north of Hwy. 66 in central Creek County. Its woodland canopy is full of oaks, elms and sycamores. In woodland openings, native grass meadows flourish, and its varied soil and vegetation types support a welcome diversity of native and migratory wildlife. Raccoons, indigo buntings, bobcats, coyotes, great blue herons, summer tanagers, cottontail rabbits, blue-gray gnatcatchers, deer, and turkey are common in this public area, although deer and turkey are hunted heavily.

As for other activities, senior biologist Bruce Burton says the primary attraction for the area is fishing on Lake Heyburn, which is “very productive.” Bass, crappie, and catfish are all abundant in Heyburn Lake. The Corps of Engineers operates two campgrounds in the area which are open seasonally. Those interested should check with the Corps for open dates. Both campgrounds have improved boat ramps, though this lake is not suitable for large boats.

For more information about Heyburn WMA, please visit the website or contact senior biologist Bruce Burton at (918) 756-4664.

Written by Ben Davis. Ben is an information specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. You have seen Ben's work in the hunting and fishing regulation books.

The Bats Are Back In Town!

Discover a Far-from-ordinary Summer Adventure in Northwest Oklahoma

As the days warm up, thoughts turn towards vacation.  The Oklahoma Wildlife Department would like to invite you to consider a trip to watch over one million bats flying out into the evening sky near Alabaster Caverns State Park during mid-summer.  The popular Selman Bat Watches have been providing visitors a chance to see this “jaw-dropping spectacle” since 1997.  Visitors have traveled from 11 other states & 4 other countries to watch streams of Mexican free-tailed bats fill the evening sky as they relax in a prairie surrounded by beautiful gypsum bluffs.

This year the bat watches will take place the last 3 weekends in July and the first weekend in August.  The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children (12 & under).  Pre-registration is required during a specified registration period which begins June 2nd and ends June 16th.  To pre-register print off the registration form from our website: www.watchbats.com.

Note: Our e-newsletter will continue to remind you to register to attend a Selman Bat Watch!

Written by Melynda Hickman. Melynda is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. She also coordinates the Selman Bat Watch.

Our Mission:

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