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A Guide to Birding in Oklahoma

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Foreword to first edition by George Miksch Sutton

What I first experienced of Oklahoma, forty years ago, was a wonderland of flat Panhandle plain and of the rough country just west of it. That fall (September and October of 1932) I drove across the whole northern third of the state, but it was the stretch from Gate westward and the spectacular Black Mesa country near Kenton that I was to remember most clearly. I went again in the fall of 1933. In 1936 my headquarters were at Arnett, in Ellis County, where I studied the Mississippi Kite, but I couldn't stay away from the Black Mesa. In 1937 I led a four-man party around the state, starting in the southeastern corner, proceeding westward through the Arbuckles and the Wichitas, angling northward at Sayre, "doing" the Panhandle and the Black Mesa country again, and winding up at Jay and Grove in the northeastern corner. Karl Haller, now of Austin College in Sherman; Texas, and I were the only members of the party who actually completed the all-too-hurried survey. Karl and I visited Tulsa briefly, were handsomely entertained there, and drove on wishing that we could devote a whole season to Mohawk Park, Bird Creek, and the prairie near Garnett.

When I moved to Norman in the fall of 1952, I knew that a remarkable variety of habitats would be available to me, stately pinewoods, blackjack and post oak timber, tall-grass and short-grass prairie, cottonwood-lined streams, sink-holes, sandy riverbeds, bat caves, salt plains, what not. I remembered--and vividly--the awesome dustbowl, for 1 had crossed it eight times while it was at its worst. I remembered low-lying areas that had, since 1937, become man-made lakes.

I knew that the whole state needed careful ornithological study. Excellent though Margaret Morse Nice's "Birds of Oklahoma" (1931) was, her book needed updating. My graduate students and I tackled fieldwork vigorously, collected specimens, recorded voluminous data. As we traveled about the state we met eager bird students, every one of them better informed than we as to the most interesting spots for birding and how to reach them. Some of these "best places" I have come to know well. But many a good area I still do not know about, and such areas as these I want to visit as soon as I can. This book will help, I know.

George Miksch Sutton
Norman, Oklahoma









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