Field Trips

Our NEXT FIELD TRIP will be . . .

January Photo Safari! Get great photos of birds at 10am on Saturday, January 25, 2020!

Complete details below!

The Payne County Audubon Society sponsors free, guided field trips to local birding spots approximately monthly. All field trips are open to the public, non-members and members alike, and are beginner-friendly. Wanna learn your birds with some fun folks (and see plenty of other cool stuff, too)? This is a great way to do that. Scroll down for full announcements of upcoming trips and reports – and photos! – of completed trips.

American Avocets. Photo by Clay Billman.

Field Trips through December 2019

Watch this space for newly scheduled field trips!

Jan. 25, 2020 at 10am – Join us for a January Photo Safari

Join Payne County Audubon for a winter photo shoot. Local nature photographer Jim Cowley will lead a group in search of cooperative birds so all can try their hand at capturing wildlife with a camera. Participants will have the opportunity to compare their results, and those who choose can have their best shots posted on Payne County Audubon’s Facebook page. We will meet at the north parking lot of the OSU Botanic Garden at 10am on Saturday, January 25, 2020 (map here). To join us, simply meet us there. If needed, you can contact Jim Cowley at, 405-269-1929. Email is the best option. No text messages, please!

Feb. 15, 2020 at 2pm – Join us for a walk around the OSU Botanic Garden with Stillwater Public Library’s Walking Literacy program

This beginner-friendly walk will be led by Les Imboden, in conjunction with Stillwater Public Library. The group will wander the garden grounds searching for wintering birds from 2:00 pm to about 3:00 pm.

One thing that will be different for this outing is interactive headsets that will be furnished by the library. Anyone who wants to be sure to have a headset can go to the library website to sign up (here). Use the link to sign up for February programs. The headset is convenient, but is not required to enjoy the birding.

The group will assemble in front of the Educational Center. Directions from town are to turn north on Western from 6th Street. Proceed north to the first possible left turn, which is Virginia Ave. From there proceed west .9 miles to the marked entrance to the Gardens. Set your GPS for 3425 W Virginia Ave, or reference this map. It is possible to walk there from the south parking lot off 6th Street, just park and follow the signs north to the Educational Center.

March 7, 2020 at 8am – Join us for a beginning birder walk around the OSU Botanic Garden!

Prepare for the beginning of Daylight Savings Time with this beginner-friendly bird walk around the garden. Led by Caitlin Laughlin, this will be easy walking and should produce some nice looks at common birds and the potential for early migrants. We will meet in the south parking lot (off 6th St) of the OSU Botanic Garden (map here).

May 2, 2020 – Birds & Burgers at Lake McMurtry

This event will find us in the midst of one of Payne County’s better birding spots. We will meet at Lake McMurtry at 9:00 a.m. After a few minutes to get organized, those present will break into groups to walk the area looking for birds. Each group will be led by an experienced birder. There will be a limited number of binoculars you may borrow if you do not own a pair.

We will scour the area for birds for about two hours, then we will meet back where we started for burgers and franks hot off the grill. The meat, buns, condiments, chips and drinks will be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring side dishes and desserts to go with the meal, plus any drinks you might want if lemonade is not enough.

Birding & Burgers is a joint venture of Payne County Audubon Society and the Oklahoma Chapter of The Sierra Club. The event is free and open to the public. It is not necessary to be a member of either organization to attend. There will be small, fun prizes to recognize your birding prowess.

Lake McMurty lies just northwest of the city of Stillwater. The event takes place at the West Recreation Area (map here). Your destination is what the map calls the West Ranger Station. Once you enter park property you will find the group at the pavilion depicted center right on this park map (park map here).

Contact one of the following representatives of the hosts for additional information, including entry into the park and a vehicle pass for the occasion. Payne County Audubon Society – Les Imboden; 405-533-1532 or Sierra Club – Paul Gray; 918-813-3129 or, and Doug Hill: 405-476-7222 or

April 25, 2020 – It’s BIRDATHON!

Join us for the competitive birding event of Payne County! This year we will be having a full 24 hour even that technically begins at 6pm on April 24 and ends with a tally rally (food! drinks! bragging!) at 6pm on April 25. Join us and learn more details on our BIRDATHON and the OK Big Day page.

Field Trips – General Information

Most important: You do NOT need to be an Audubon member to join us for a field trip! Unless otherwise stated, all of our PCAS-sponsored trips are free and open to the public.

Next, you do not need to be an expert birder or any other kind of experienced naturalist to join us for a field trip –– the whole point is to have some fun seeing some neat birds and to learn from the other birders on the trip. Although babies and toddlers might not get much from our field trips, we are keenly interested in encouraging young birders which is a point of outreach emphasis for the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab or Ornithology, and the American Birding Association.

  • Most of our field trips are to local parks with easy walking on groomed trails. Participants should be prepared for more rugged or wet conditions, however, by wearing sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots.
  • The birds are outside in all weather conditions; we will be too. Unless the forecast calls for icy roads, thunderstorms, or torrential rain (if it’s light rain showers we still go), we will proceed with the field trip. Although our trips seldom extend beyond 2 hours, participants should have everything they need for 4–5 hours in the field, e.g., sunscreen, layered clothing, water, snacks, insect/tick repellent, and any medications you might need.
  • If you have binoculars bring them with you, but don’t let a lack of optics keep you from joining one of our trips! We have plenty to share, and field trip is great opportunity to try some different binocs to help decide what works best for you.
  • Above all, have fun! Whether you’re a hard core professional or someone just starting out, we’re all in this for the same reasons: birds are beautiful and exciting and they enrich our lives.

Trip Reports – 2019

Bunting Hunting! 6 July 2019

Rachel Maranville, Emily Geest, Hal Yoakum (sp?), Stephen Coit, and Les Imboden joined leader Tim O’Connell for the annual Bunting Hunting field trip today. This is a July effort to find as many Indigo and Painted Buntings as we can, and give folks a chance to get good looks at these stunningly beautiful birds that can often be tough to see. We did well, finding 5 Painted Buntings and 3 Indigo Buntings (plus some other cool stuff) at 5 locations on the west side of Stillwater.

1. Lake Carl Blackwell–Dam, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Jul 6, 2019 8:50 AM – 9:15 AM
19 species
Mourning Dove 1
Killdeer 1
Great Blue Heron 4
Turkey Vulture 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 2
Purple Martin 1
Cliff Swallow 1
Tufted Titmouse 3
Eastern Bluebird 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
Lark Sparrow 1
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Baltimore Oriole 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Common Grackle 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Painted Bunting 2 Male was ASY

2. Turkey Hollow entrance, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Jul 6, 2019 9:20 AM – 9:45 AM
18 species
Mourning Dove 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Turkey Vulture 9
Mississippi Kite 2 observed mating
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 2
Bewick’s Wren 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
European Starling 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Summer Tanager 1
Northern Cardinal 4

3. Lake Carl Blackwell – east and Tan Tara Rd., Payne, Oklahoma, US
Jul 6, 2019 9:50 AM – 10:15 AM
14 species
Mourning Dove 1
Greater Roadrunner 2
Great Blue Heron 1
American Crow 1
Purple Martin 3
Tufted Titmouse 1
Eastern Bluebird 3
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 2
Field Sparrow 1
Summer Tanager 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Indigo Bunting 1
House Sparrow 2

4. Cimarron Road near Lake Carl Blackwell, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Jul 6, 2019 10:25 AM – 10:45 AM
16 species
Turkey Vulture 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
American Crow 2
Purple Martin 8
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Eastern Bluebird 1
Field Sparrow 1
Baltimore Oriole 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 4
Summer Tanager 1
Northern Cardinal 2
Indigo Bunting 1
Painted Bunting 2
House Sparrow 1

5. Memorial Drive, Karsten Creek, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Jul 6, 2019 10:50 AM – 11:20 AM
14 species
Wild Turkey 2
Great Blue Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 8
Eastern Phoebe 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Field Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 6
Indigo Bunting 1
Painted Bunting 1


OSU Cross Timbers Experimental Range – 1 June 2019

Dwayne and Leslie Elmore led participants Les Imboden, Kevin Wilson, John Couch, and Tim O’Connell on a wonderful tour of some birdy hotspots in a mix of pasture, shrubland, and oak/cedar forest on OSU land roughly 2 miles south of Lake Carl Blackwell on the west side of Stillwater.

  1. Northern Bobwhite 2
  2. Mourning Dove 5
  3. Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3
  4. Greater Roadrunner 1
  5. Killdeer 1
  6. Turkey Vulture 8
  7. Mississippi Kite 1
  8. Red-shouldered Hawk 1
  9. Red-tailed Hawk 1
  10. Pileated Woodpecker 1
  11. Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
  12. Downy Woodpecker 1
  13. Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
  14. Acadian Flycatcher 1 I have for years expected Acadian Flycatcher to be the next “eastern forest” songbird to be breeding in riparian forests here in central Oklahoma. This bird was heard only, but gave four diagnostic “peetSA!” songs over the course of a minute or two. The location was closed-canopy oak-dominated forest along an incised stream and ravine. Sorry – no recorded audio or photo.
  15. Eastern Phoebe 4
  16. Great Crested Flycatcher 2
  17. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 1
  18. White-eyed Vireo 3
  19. Bell’s Vireo 4
  20. Red-eyed Vireo 7
  21. American Crow 6
  22. Carolina Chickadee 4
  23. Tufted Titmouse 3
  24. Carolina Wren 4
  25. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5
  26. Eastern Bluebird 1
  27. Northern Mockingbird 3
  28. American Goldfinch 5
  29. Field Sparrow 11
  30. Lark Sparrow 4
  31. Yellow-breasted Chat 1
  32. Brown-headed Cowbird 7
  33. Red-winged Blackbird 3
  34. Eastern Meadowlark 2
  35. Louisiana Waterthrush 3 includes 1 pair feeding fledglings and another unmated male
  36. Kentucky Warbler 1
  37. Black-and-white Warbler 2
  38. Summer Tanager 3
  39. Northern Cardinal 3
  40. Blue Grosbeak 1 2nd year male
  41. Indigo Bunting 8
  42. Painted Bunting 7
  43. Dickcissel 4

Lake Carl Blackwell, Payne County, Oklahoma – 9 March 2019

Twenty-two OSU students and guests braved gale-force winds on an otherwise lovely day at Lake Carl Blackwell on Saturday, March 9. We started at the dam but didn’t find much there exposed to the wind as we were. The whitecaps never subsided on the lake!

Ring-billed Gull 100
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1

On the way to the dam, Corey Riding reported the following along Redlands Rd. – pretty impressive given that he had all four kids with him!

Mallard 10
Ring-billed Gull 15
Northern Harrier 1
European Starling 2

At the park itself, we were able to find some shelter from the wind and that’s, of course, where a lot more birds were hanging out. Everyone got to see the immature Bald Eagle, at least one of the Red-headed Woodpeckers, and at least one of the LeConte’s Sparrows we flushed from the native grass field on the far shore of the Trout Pond. Including Corey’s Northern Harrier, we ended up with 47 species from 8:00–11:30 am!

  1. Canada Goose 123
  2. Wood Duck  1
  3. Northern Shoveler  4
  4. Mallard  112
  5. Northern Pintail  100
  6. Green-winged Teal  9
  7. Pied-billed Grebe  2
  8. American Coot  55
  9. Killdeer  6
  10. Ring-billed Gull  80
  11. Double-crested Cormorant  25
  12. American White Pelican  8
  13. Great Blue Heron  2
  14. Bald Eagle  1
  15. Red-shouldered Hawk  1
  16. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
  17. Red-headed Woodpecker  2
  18. Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
  19. Downy Woodpecker  2
  20. Northern Flicker  1
  21. American Kestrel  1
  22. Mourning Dove  1
  23. Blue Jay  2
  24. American Crow  4
  25. Carolina Chickadee  4
  26. Tufted Titmouse  2
  27. Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
  28. White-breasted Nuthatch  1
  29. Brown Creeper  1
  30. Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
  31. Eastern Bluebird  9
  32. American Robin  56
  33. Northern Mockingbird  1
  34. European Starling  2
  35. Cedar Waxwing  10
  36. Dark-eyed Junco  8
  37. LeConte’s Sparrow  4
  38. Song Sparrow  4
  39. Dark-eyed Junco  2
  40. LeConte’s Sparrow  1
  41. Song Sparrow  1
  42. Eastern Meadowlark  3
  43. Pine Warbler  1
  44. Yellow-rumped Warbler  6
  45. Northern Cardinal  3
  46. House Finch 2

Many thanks to Corey Riding and Sirena Lao for keeping the official trip lists!

Sanborn Lake, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Feb 2, 2019 9:00 AM – 10:54 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments: 28 folks on this field trip!
41 species

Canada Goose 24
Ruddy Shelduck 1 Same individual that’s been around town for a while.
Gadwall 10
Mallard 13
Canvasback 3
Ring-necked Duck 9
Bufflehead 1
Mourning Dove 4
Killdeer 1
Ring-billed Gull 90
Herring Gull 2
Great Blue Heron 1
Northern Harrier 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 2
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 3
Carolina Chickadee 8
Tufted Titmouse 3
Carolina Wren 9
Bewick’s Wren 1
Eastern Bluebird 1
American Robin 6
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling 11
Cedar Waxwing 8
House Finch 4
American Goldfinch 1
Dark-eyed Junco 11
Harris’s Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 5
Northern Cardinal 15
House Sparrow 3

Boomer Lake Park, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Jan 20, 2019 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments: Ornithology Field Trip #1: 17 students and guests plus myself
24 species (+1 other taxa)

Cackling Goose 40
Canada Goose 227
Mallard 27
Mallard (Domestic type) 1
Ring-necked Duck 10
Bufflehead 1
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Mourning Dove 2
American Coot 5
Ring-billed Gull 230
Herring Gull 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Double-crested Cormorant 3
Great Blue Heron 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Northern Flicker 4
Eastern Bluebird 1
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling 39
House Finch 1
Dark-eyed Junco 9
Northern Cardinal 4
House Sparrow 1

Pawnee Lake, Pawnee, Oklahoma, US
Jan 6, 2019 1:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Protocol: Traveling
4.0 mile(s)
Comments: Payne County Audubon Society January field trip, led by Les Imboden
31 species

Mallard 1
Bufflehead 1
Common Goldeneye 22
Hooded Merganser 7
Common Merganser 2
Pied-billed Grebe 5
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 1
Mourning Dove 1
Greater Roadrunner 1
American Coot 20
Killdeer 1
Ring-billed Gull 22
Double-crested Cormorant 16
Great Blue Heron 4
Bald Eagle 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
American Kestrel 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 4
Carolina Chickadee 1
Eastern Bluebird 3
American Robin 2
European Starling 1
Dark-eyed Junco 4
Song Sparrow 5
Red-winged Blackbird 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Trip Reports – 2018

Sooner Lake And Surrounding Area, Rural Payne County, OK, USA

December 1, 2018

Protocol: Driving

Comments: Moderately windy day kept sparrows at bay, but hawks, eagles and ducks made up for absence of the smaller birds. The birding was good enough to keep the group out a bit longer than expected. Thanks to Jim Cowley for pitching in to lead the group on short notice.

31 Species:

Bald Eagle – 4
Northern Flicker – 5
Mourning Dove – 2
European Starling – 25
Eastern Bluebird – 6
American Crow – 10
Dark-eyed Junco – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 15
Mallard – 112
Canvasback – 2
Hooded Merganser – 37
Ring-necked Duck – 18
Great Blue Heron – 2
Scaup – 5
American Kestrel – 3
Harrier – 8
Green-winged Teal – 2
Northern Cardinal – 1
Common Goldeneye – 40
Harris’ Sparrow – 8
Song Sparrow – 1
Osprey – 1
Common Loon – 4
Bufflehead – 27
American Widgeon – 20
Double-crested Cormorant – 9
American Coot – 152
Pied-billed Grebe – 3
Gadwall – 29
House Sparrow – 6
Shoveler – 26

Ghost Hollow And Environs, Perkins & Ripley, OK, US

November 10, 2018

Protocol: Driving and walking

Comments:  Very good size group, almost more than there were birds.  The species list is fair for the time spent, but the total number of each species was generally thin.  Hallelujah bird was a leucistic Red-tail that could be mistaken for a Snowy Owl at a glance.

18 Species
































Great Salt Plains Lake, Oklahoma, US
October 27 & 28, 2018
Protocol: Driving and walking
Comments:  Best possible fall weather for a combined camp-out and some of the best birding in Oklahoma.  Weather, birding and Saturday cook-out enjoyed by Leader John Couch, Kevin Wilson, Jim and Suzanne Cowley, Les Imboden and Susie Taylor.                    39 Species

Whooping Crane

Sandhill Crane

Golden Eagle

Bald Eagle

White Pelican

White-faced Ibis

Belted Kingfisher

Double-crested Cormorant

Northern Flicker (red and yellow-shafted)

Red-tailed Hawk

Mourning Dove

White-breasted Nuthatch

American Coot

Forster’s Tern

Pied-billed Grebe


American Robin

Red-bellied Woodpecker

American Widgeon

Carolina Wren

Northern Harrier

Western Meadowlark

Brewer’s Blackbird

European Starling

American Crow

Red-winged Blackbird

Pileated Woodpecker

Canada Goose

Northern Cardinal

Barred Owl

American Kestrel

House Sparrow

Common Grackle

Ring-billed Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Great Blue Heron



Green-winged Teal

Song Sparrow

Couch Park, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Sep 23, 2018 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling 0.5 mile(s)
Comments: Nice little bird walk for the Payne County Audubon Society, mostly on the Hoyt Grove side north of 12th St.
28 species

Mourning Dove 5
Chimney Swift 2
Turkey Vulture 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Barred Owl 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 2
Blue Jay 11
American Crow 5
Carolina Chickadee 8
Tufted Titmouse 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Carolina Wren 4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Eastern Bluebird 3
American Robin 17
European Starling 42
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 8
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Summer Tanager 2
Northern Cardinal 6
House Sparrow 6

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Lake Carl Blackwell – Trout Pond, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Mar 24, 2018 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
Comments: w/ Les Imboden, Chris Brown, Kevin Wilson, and Katie Broyles
40 species

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 9.46.15 AM.pngView this checklist online at

Lake Carl Blackwell – pine plantation, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Mar 24, 2018 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
Comments: with Les Imboden, Kevin Wilson, Katie Broyles, and Chris Brown
30 species

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 9.43.32 AM.png

View this checklist online at

Sanborn Lake, Payne, Oklahoma, US
Feb 3, 2018 12:10 PM – 1:40 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments: A bit windy, but 11 folks came out for a lunchtime ramble around Sanborn Lake, and now they all know what a Yellow-rumped Warbler sounds like.
33 species

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 9.39.57 AM.png

View this checklist online at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s