Field Trips

In accordance with CDC guidelines and Oklahoma and the City of Stillwater’s declarations of a State of Emergency, PCAS has cancelled all of our events indefinitely.

Our NEXT FIELD TRIP will be . . .

indefinitely rescheduled due to COVID-19 concerns.

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 May 2020

Watch this space for newly scheduled field trips!

Indefinitely rescheduled due to COVID-19 concerns:

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.

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


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.



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.

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!

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
View this checklist online at

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.

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.

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 including Whooping Crane!

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 View this checklist online at

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 View 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 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 View this checklist online at

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