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Eldorado Area
Jackson County

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

Drive south from Altus on US 283 for 11 miles to the tiny settlement of Elmer; then turn west on the blacktop road and proceed for 17 miles to the town of Eldorado. The bridge spanning the Salt Fork of the Red River 2 miles west of Elmer is an equal distance north of the parent stream and the closest point to it along this stretch of road. Several section-line roads lead south toward the Red River's mature riparian woodlands. As one nears the river, the sandier country is typified by sand-sage and yucca, and the scattered tree growth is dominated by hackberry, American elm, soapberry, and an occasional chittamwood. Dense thickets of sandplum and skunkbushes grow near the ground, furnishing excellent cover for birds. There are precipitous limestone bluffs in some places, dissected by narrow, thickety canyons (be on the alert for rattlesnakes here). Along the riverbank almost impenetrable strips of salt cedar proliferate.

Characteristic of the open countryside are fields in various stages of cultivation interspersed with mesquite "forests" that are carpeted with shortgrass pasture and usually overgrown to prickly pear. The numerous small arroyos are lined with stunted hackberries, skunkbushes and a few elms, as are the usual gypsum "sinkholes" in the region. The principal streams that drain this part of Jackson County are Turkey, Gypsum, and Sandy (Lebos) creeks.

The River

In addition to typical landbirds and aquatic species, the following may be found: Mississippi Kites (S), Harris's Hawks (rare in winter), and Sandhill Cranes (great, noisy, drifting flocks). After dark in summer Common Poorwills may sometimes be located by their eyeshine as they rest in the roads.

Mesquite Pasturelands

Birds to expect include Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunners, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed woodpeckers, Ash-throated Flycatchers (S), Chihuahuan Ravens (S), Tufted (Black-crested) Titmice, Verdins (and nests), Curve-billed Thrashers, Northern (Bullock's) Orioles (S), and assorted sparrows.

Open Country

Here one is likely to see Swainson's (S), Ferruginous (W), and Rough-legged hawks, Horned Larks, Sprague's Pipits (W), Dickcissels (S), Cassin's (S), Clay-colored (M), and Lark (S) sparrows, Lark Buntings (M,W), Savannah (W), and Grasshopper (S) sparrows, McCown's Longspurs (W), Western Meadowlarks, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds (M). Any of the numerous abandoned buildings in the area may harbor Barn-Owls.

Sandy (Lebos) Creek

This creek flows southeastward, less than two miles west and southwest of Eldorado, and supports good stands of black willow, cottonwood and hackberry. One good spot for birds is either side of the highway bridge one and one-half miles south of the southwest corner of Eldorado at another crossing. In the six or seven miles it takes Sandy Creek to meander southeastward from Eldorado to the Red River it is bridged as many times; all these sites are likely places in which to locate some of the area's special birds. Watch for Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunners, Black-chinned Hummingbirds (S), Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed woodpeckers, Common (Red-shafted) Flickers (W), Ash-throated Flycatchers (S), Tufted (Black-crested) Titmice, Black-headed Grosbeaks (M), and Lesser Goldfinches (S). All warblers seen should be carefully identified.



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Last modified: September 21, 2009




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