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Lookout Route

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From the 1986 edition of A Guide to Birding in Oklahoma published by the Tulsa Audubon Society. This account was reviewed in 2007 to ensure accuracy.

The route begins at the entrance of a ranch with a cattle-guard gate south of the covered picnic table on SH 34, about 3.5 miles south of the Kansas line. To reach the Lookout area from Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, travel west to the intersection with US 64 where SH 11 turns north. Continue west on US 64 through Alva (0.0) to intersect with SH 34 (37.0), and turn north. The ranch road is about 10 miles north on the left.

This is high country, the elevation at Buffalo, 18 miles to the west, being 1,791 feet. The sage on most of the land has been removed and the more level land planted in wheat. Most of the farm houses have been abandoned. Ranch roads are maintained with tax funds and are considered public. Cars should have a full tank of gas before starting on this route.

Enter the gate south of the picnic table on SH 34. Follow the crooked road past a windmill, a tiny pond, and feed troughs to a group of large cottonwoods near the ranch house. Turn around and follow the same road back to the highway. Horned Larks, Mourning Doves, Lark Sparrows, and Killdeer will be seen along the road. Over barren or short grass prairies in April and early May listen for the ethereal flight song of the Cassin's Sparrow: "say seeeee, so sweeeeet", the last note higher than the preceding as the bird floats downward. Grasshopper Sparrows sing from tall weeds, and a Bobwhite may call from a brush pile. Burrowing Owls sometimes hover in the air or perch on lines in the windmill area. Ring-necked Pheasants may be encountered in early morning along the road and Western Meadowlarks sing "John-Greenleaf-Whittier" across the prairie. Other open country birds are found among and near the cottonwoods.

Back at SH 34, turn right and drive for 2 miles, then left onto another ranch. A small pond lies to the left of the highway and another 1 mile farther east. Along this one-mile stretch are Barn Swallows, many Cliff Swallows, Northern Orioles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern and Western kingbirds, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. About 1.5 miles from the highway watch for Burrowing Owls.

The water level is high throughout this area, with several small streams bordered with trees. After passing the Lookout Cemetery watch for House Wrens, Summer Tanagers, woodpeckers, and orioles. A few Swainson's Hawks and Mississippi Kites nest here. Some years there are many Dickcissels, but most years they are absent.

At one point the route joins US 64 for a mile during which both Moccasin Creeks are crossed. One-half mile south of US 64 are gray boulders in a pasture. Rufous-crowned Sparrows have been seen here. For three years they were heard and not seen. Cassin's Sparrows have been heard at several points in high, bare areas. The route ends at US 64 where there are a number of cottonwoods and willows which hold good numbers of birds. The Warbling Vireo is rare in this section.



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




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