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Lake Hefner

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From the 1986 edition of A Guide to Birding in Oklahoma published by the Tulsa Audubon Society, supplemented in 2007 with material from the OKC Audubon Society.

Lake Hefner reservoir with over 3,000 acres of water, adjoining golf course, plus some partially wooded grasslands and recreational facilities can be reached from the east on Hefner, Britton, and Wilshire roads, and from the south on Portland and Meridian. This is a gathering place for grebes, ducks and gulls from fall through winter and during early spring migrations. Most species of ducks common to Oklahoma are found here during migration. Unusual ones have been Oldsquaw, White-winged Scoter, and Surf Scoter. Common Loons, Red-throated Loons several times, Horned, Eared, and Pied-billed grebes, the rarely noted Western Grebe, and multitudes of coots arrive with the ducks.

In early fall and again in spring, Franklin's Gulls may number in the thousands. In early fall and sometimes remaining into cold winter, Bonaparte's Gulls may reach one hundred or more. Hundreds to a thousand or more Ring-billed Gulls divide their day between the garbage dumps and the lake. Surprises have been Sabine's Gull and the Lesser Black-backed Gull. By mid-winter there are hundreds of Common Mergansers, usually accompanied by a few Red-breasted and Hooded mergansers. These fish eaters are under constant harassment from dozens of Herring Gulls and occasional Glaucous Gulls. If lake levels are low and mud flats extensive from March through early May, or from late July through September, shorebirds by the hundreds stop to feed or rest at Lake Hefner. Of these, the less common and rare include the Piping, Golden, and Black-bellied plovers, Black-necked Stilt, Long-billed Curlew, Hudsonian and Marbled godwits, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Dunlin, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red-necked and Red phalaropes. Black Terns, Forster's, Common, and Caspian terns join the shorebirds on the mud flats. Parasitic and Pomarine jaegers, Ospreys and even Bald Eagles are rare visitors. Nearly every spring and fall White Pelicans in flocks of 200 stop by.

The following is excerpted from the OKC Audubon Society Lake Hefner Page. Please visit their page their page for a complete account:

Birding around Stars & Stripes Park Directions: From I-40 proceed north on I-240/OK74 that becomes Hefner Parkway north of 39th Street. Exit west at NW Highway, west to Portland and north to the lake for access to the south side. Portland ends where it intersects with S. Lake Hefner Drive, the location of Stars & Stripes Park. The park offers walking trails, playgrounds and good shoreline for gulls and terns. The hiking trails in the immediate area of the park offer interesting birding with a mix of grass, woods, shrubs and shoreline.

From Stars & Stripes Park there are hiking trails that access all sides of the lake. There is also a quasi creek the ends south of the road. Water birds in this area are primarily dabbling ducks, geese, and waders. The south side of Lake Hefner offers a great diversity of habitat as there are many trees, mowed areas, undisturbed habitat, and cedar plantings. The lake in this area has many fingers or small coves that are easily accessed by the path. There is only a small amount of marshland. When the lake level is low there are extensive flats at "Hobie Point" or the YMCA Sailing Center that is well marked on the Lake Road a few hundred yards west of Portland Ave. (Download/print map of Lake Hefner)

Prairie Dog Point: Of special interest to birders is Prairie Dog Point, located at the southwest corner of the lake. Birders from across Oklahoma visit this location during spring and fall migration, as well as during the winter months when sightings of rare birds are often reported. A special Birding Hot Spot report on Prairie Dog Point is being written that will detail the area, however, we do not want birders to miss the opportunity to visit the area! Recent sightings at Prairie Dog Point include Whimbrel, Piping Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Short-billed Dowitchers, White-faced Ibis, Snowy Plover, and Western Sandpiper. California Gull, Least Tern, Common Tern, and Lesser Black-backed Gull were also sighted.

Please see the excellent OKC Audubon Society Lake Hefner Page for complete details on birding this area and for a bird list.


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Copyright 2013 Tulsa Audubon Society
Last modified: October 15, 2018




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