It was exciting to learn from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation that Sequoyah County has the second best place in the state to watch birds (actually wildlife of all kinds) at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, and the overall county is number 10 in the state as the best place to be a bird watcher.
As a novice birdwatcher, who knows pretty much absolutely nothing about birds, it has been amazing to me how many birds there are in my own back yard. I can now recognize 20 or 30 different feathered friends. Before getting my bird book and a pair of binoculars I could barely tell the difference between a robin, a cardinal and a blue jay. I’m much better now. It’s those 30 or 40 different types of sparrows that keep me confused.
The wildlife department is a big help. The wildlife department is more good news for us if you don’t know already. And they have a great website, with all kinds of information for hunters, fishermen, and people like me who just like to observe wildlife.
Our wildlife department cooperated recently with the Cornell University Ornithology Lab and the National Audubon Society on the Great Backyard Bird Count. I counted my birds but didn’t send in the info. Wish I had now. It was the smart bird counters who went to the wildlife refuge and counted 53 different types of birds that got us in the top 10. That’s exciting. Think I’ll go to the refuge myself. But there’s nothing I like better than sitting on my own back porch on a sunny morning and taking photos of my birds, many of whom I know by name now. Yes, I name my wild birds.
Chad Ford, the outdoor recreation planner at the refuge, said a visit would be good.
“We encourage everyone to get outdoors and enjoy their local treasure, the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge,” Ford said. “Not everyone gets a wildlife refuge in their own back yard.”
Yes, our wildlife refuge and our wildlife department are both treasures I thoroughly enjoy.
Now the wildlife department is joining in the Virtual Spring BioBlitz! OK 2017 Project. This is for people like me who would rather observe wildlife than pseudo-star people on TV. The project will have we observers (also known as citizen scientists) taking photos of both fauna and flora (critters and plants for those who didn’t like biology), which we then post on the iNaturalist website. According to Oklahoma wildlife, participation is free and prizes will be awarded to the top observers. New challenges will be posted each week with opportunities to win additional prizes and compete with fellow citizen scientists statewide.
During last year’s inaugural virtual BioBlitz! More than 2000 observations were made of 701 species in the state, so the competition is rough. But I still signed up, and hope I can find out the name of that pretty salamander that lives under my back porch.
You know, sometimes we get really tired of all the bad news. Well, here’s good news – our wildlife department and wildlife refuge.
So come on in, join the watchers, have some fun, and meet new critters. Visit the wildlife refuge south of Vian and visit the wildlife department on the internet. I love both places.