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Oologah Lake
Rogers & Nowata Counties

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

Additional Info

Corps Lake Web Site

Corps Project Web Site

Local Corps Page w/Trail Maps

Map of Public Hunting Areas

Trip Report by Cyndie Browning

Shorebirding Info

Lake Oologah needs to be about a foot below normal level to have much habitat and is ideal at 1.5 ft. below normal or lower. Some good areas are:

  • Winganon Causeway

  • Winganon Flats


Map with shorebird areas highlighted


Hi-res version
from Jim Arterburn's shorebird guide


Areas In this Account

Hawthorn Bluff

Winganon Mud Flats

Double Creek Marsh and Mud Flat

Hawthorn Bluff, Rogers County

From the intersection of US 169 and SH 88 at Oologah, drive 1.8 miles east on SH 88. Turn left into the Hawthorn Bluff camp­ground. Continue 0.3 mile to the entrance of the nature trail on the left. There is a parking lot nearby. The nature trail is divided into short and long trails. Walking the trails back-to-front is sometimes more productive as most birds seem to be toward the end of the trail a short distance from the lake. Along these trails during spring migration (May 1 to 15) some of the rarest warblers in Oklahoma have been seen: Golden-winged, Swainson's, Black-throated Blue, Connecticut, Cerulean, and Worm-eating. Warblers seen there regularly throughout most of the migration are Tennessee, Kentucky, Wilson's, Nashville, Black-and-white, Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, and Orange-crowned. Less frequently seen are Redstart, Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, and Ovenbird. The best time to see the less common warblers is during and shortly after a cold wet front has come in and lingered a day or two, dropping out migrants to feed and rest until better weather.

Along with the warblers, other migrants such as Solitary Vireos, Empidonax species, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, late winter sparrows, and all the migrant thrushes are seen in this area, plus less common summer residents such as Painted Bunting and Blue Grosbeak. No spring migration is complete without two or three trips to the Hawthorn Bluff nature trail. The small park below the dam should be checked for Northern Parula, Prothonotary and Yellow-throated warblers in the willow trees along the river.

Click here for map of Hawthorne Bluff

Skunk Hollow Nature Trail Map and Guide

Winganon Mud Flats, Rogers County

From the intersection of US 169 and SH 88 at Oologah, drive north on

US 169 for 10 miles. Turn right at the Winganon Crossing sign and con­tinue 7 miles east, crossing the lake. Turn right at the Winganon intersection (an old school house converted to a store); drive 1 mile and turn right again (west). Drive 1 mile to an abandoned road running north and south. Stop at this intersection and examine the road. If the road is not muddy, drive slowly north (right) 0.2 mile and park. Sometimes there is a gate across the road near the intersection, fencing cattle feeding on public land. Take down the gate to drive through but be sure to replace it after driving in. To the left (west) is a two-track trail along the side of a cultivated field. Follow this trail as it continues around the north side of a lake inlet, then walk straight west to the west side of the peninsula. This is about 0.5 mile. When Oologah Reservoir is down at least one foot below normal, which is usually in late summer, shorebirds are seen by the dozens scattered around the mud bars of this entire peninsula. Shorebird season is from mid-July to early November with waves occurring from mid-August to mid-September, depending on the weather. Early in the season a rainy front will bring down a large flock, while later in the fall a weather front seems to sweep the flat clean.

Seen every year are Piping Plovers, Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Lesser Golden and Black-bellied plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, and Dunlins along with the more common shorebirds. Some years American Avocets, godwits, Willets, rare phalaropes, Long-billed Curlews, or a Red Knot may be found here. Gulls, terns, ducks, geese, pelicans, hero and egrets are frequently seen in large numbers both on the peninsula and on the south flat near Spencer Creek Cove. The hardy hiker may follow the mud bar around two inlets and south for a mile or more before coming to Spencer Creek Cove and the end of the mud flats.

Spring shorebirding is just as exciting as fall but less dependable because of high lake levels covering the bars. When the lake level is four feet above normal in early May, the bare cultivated field at the end of the last north road in the above description furnishes a mud bar for northbound shorebirds. As many as 18 species have been seen on this flooded field during the second week in May.

Spencer Creek Recreation Area Map

Double Creek Marsh and Mud Flat, Nowata County

From the intersection of US 169 and SH 88 at Oologah, drive 16.7 miles north on US 169. Turn right at the Double Creek Cove sign and drive east to the end of the road, about 5 miles. Do not turn into the Double Creek Recreation Area. The graveled road crosses three low-water bridges that are dry most of the time and ends in a rough, steep hill down to a hundred yards of flat wooded area, a curve, and then water. Most of the time it is best to park at the top of the hill and walk down. The area encloses the upper end of Oologah Reservoir and on a good day everything seen on the Winganon mud flats can be found here plus rails, bitterns, and an occasional White-faced Ibis. There are always a good many songbirds in the woods and on the hillside. In deep winter Bald Eagles are seen from here looking toward the dead trees to the southeast. The terrain is much rougher here with huge logs and willow sprouts obscuring the view of mud flats. Wear rough clothing and be prepared to walk through mud and weeds. Do not drive out on the mud flat even though there seem to be car tracks. The surface can be softer in places than it appears.


Click here or on map for a full PDF version


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Last modified: September 21, 2009




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