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McCurtain 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.

McCurtain County in the southeast corner offers the bird-finder several habitats found nowhere else in the state. Much of the flora and fauna here are actually more typical of Louisiana than one would expect to see in Oklahoma.

From Idabel, the county seat, one can drive east and south on SH 3 into the pinelands of the Ouachita National Forest. From the village of Haworth, south through Moon to Tom, are many square miles of tall, stately Loblolly Pines, unique to this section of Oklahoma. Here, throughout the year, one can expect to see Brown-headed Nuthatches, many Pine Warblers, and, with luck, the rare Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The Bachman's Sparrow is also a possibility.

To reach a site where the Red-cockaded is known to have nested most recently, drive about 2 miles east from downtown Moon to Forest Service Road #6113, turn right (south) and go 1.1 mile. The nest hole can be seen about 30 feet up in a large pine just to the left of the road. A search in this beautiful pine forest might very well be worth the effort. Good luck!

Two miles south of Tom the road leaves the National Forest and joins SH 87, at which point you can go east 7 miles to the Arkansas state line, or west 25 miles back to Idabel. Either way, this portion of SH 87 lies just north of the Red River and provides access to several cutoff lakes or sloughs which attract many herons, egrets, bitterns, gallinules, and other water and marsh-oriented birds.

Just north of Idabel the Little River flows eastward through the most extensive spread of wooded river bottomland still left in the state.

Although US 70 is the usual route to Broken Bow, a more interesting drive is via the "old highway" which goes directly north out of town on the main street of Idabel. Three miles north of town stop at the Little River bridge to see an impressive assortment of eastern bottomland birds.

Almost 2 miles beyond Little River the road crosses Holly Creek, which at this point forms a beautiful marsh containing several acres of sawgrass, buttonbush, and waterlilies. From the low bridge here, especially during April and May, one may look and listen for the Least Bittern, both gallinules, rails, Marsh Wrens, and from the woods nearby, Barred Owls and Pileated Woodpeckers.


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Last modified: September 21, 2009




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