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Lake Okmulgee Recreation Area

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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.

Follow SH 56 west at 6 St. in downtown Okmulgee (not the 56 Loop at the northern edge of town). Birding along the Deep Fork River en route to the recreational area is excellent, with additional species to be found in open fields across the road--Dickcissels, Horned Larks, and Eastern Meadowlarks.

Fourteen miles west of Okmulgee at the large wooden Okmulgee Recreation Area sign, keep to the right on SH 56 which goes by the spillway at Lake Okmulgee. Park and explore the area below the dam from the spillway back to the bridge across Salt Creek to the west. Birding from the spillway below the dam is best in spring when warblers, vireos, flycatchers, buntings, woodpeckers, and Eastern Bluebirds are here. The Wood Duck, Belted Kingfisher, and Wood Thrush have nested. The Pileated Woodpecker is seen occasionally.

As one of two special-use public facilities, the lake is designated as the Lake Okmulgee Recreation Area with 535 acres. Waterfowl are plentiful during the migration periods and many spend the winter. The Game Management Area is 7,719 acres of river bottoms and woods. Roads are dirt, rocky and rough. Be cautious if roads are muddy or if trails are dry sand for it is possible to get stuck in either. Enter the Game Management Area beyond the spillway and follow the graded road. Just beyond the pistol range take the first right turn. Parts of this road are bordered with multiflora roses. Watch for Rufous-sided Towhees, Cedar Waxwings, Mockingbirds, Cardinals and wintering sparrows.

Turn back where the road forks and return to the main route. Follow

this past the machine shed to a right turn, about 2 miles. This leads to a slough and the river, a good spot for wintering birds - Great Blue Herons, ducks, woodpeckers, sparrows, towhees, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Greater Prairie-Chickens have been observed in the open grassy areas in spring. Turn left to continue the drive back to the highway. October is the best birding time in the Recreation Area. Deer are common and the area is usually closed during deer hunting season. It is not necessary to sign in or to have permission to use this area.


Prairie Bell Road Route, Southeast of Okmulgee

This is a driving route near the city of Okmulgee. Drive south on US 75 to the southern part of the city, turning east on US 62, one block south of the traffic light. Three miles from the junction turn south on Prairie Bell Road for 2 miles.

In the second mile watch for Horned Larks in the open fields east of the road. Dickcissels and Eastern Meadowlarks are abundant in summer. Turn west and drive 1 mile. Hawks, Loggerhead Shrikes, Eastern Bluebirds, and meadowlarks are common. When the section-line road comes to a dead end (1.0), turn north (right) for 2 miles. This section is bordered by trees and is overgrown with brush. Migrating warblers are usually found here in spring and fall. The earliest White-throated, Harris's, and Lincoln's sparrows show up here. Watch for Sharp-shinned Hawks. Rufous-sided Towhees, Brown Thrashers, Carolina Wrens, White­breasted Nuthatches, and Eastern Bluebirds winter in this habitat.

At the end of the two miles turn west (left) to return to US 75. Residential development is encroaching but fence rows and small wooded areas still harbor wintering sparrows, cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and woodpeckers. Fall and winter are excellent times of the year to take this route.







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Last modified: September 21, 2009




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