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Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge/
Lake Texoma
Johnston & Marshall

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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.

The Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge lies on the upper Washita arm of Lake Texoma. The headquarters is 3 miles southeast of Tishomingo. The habitat is as diverse as the wildlife that inhabits it. The fresh water impoundments, creeks and river provide 5,500 acres of open water and marsh. The remaining lands vary from seasonally-flooded basins and flats to gently rolling native grasslands that grade into dense oak-hickory-elm woodlands. Slightly more than 900 acres are farmed. Together the water, marsh, and farmlands serve as the primary roosting, loafing, and feeding areas for the refuge's wintering waterfowl which may include up to 45,000 geese (primarily Canadas) and 15,000 ducks (mostly Mallards). Rare visitors to the waterfowl refuge have been Barnacle, Ross's, and Brant geese.

Corn, milo, peanuts, and winter wheat comprise the major crops on the refuge and are primary locations for finding geese, ducks, white-tailed deer, and small mammals which feed on available crops. During the winter the 900 acres of cultivated lands offer green browse and hot foods for the main attraction to the refuge, waterfowl. Along with the waterfowl come raptors. The more common ones include Northern Harrier; Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks; Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks; and American Kestrel. Occasionally seen are Mississippi Kites, Broad-winged, Swainson's, Rough-legged, and Ferruginous hawks and Merlin. Bald Eagles may number as many as 90 during the late winter months. Nida Point, Murry 23, and the headquarters boat ramp offer excellent observation sites for this endangered species.

Big Sandy Creek empties into the Cumberland Pool, forming a sizable sandy flat (when flood waters are not present) which is occupied by a variety of birdlife depending on the season. Canada, White-fronted, and Snow geese and several species of puddle ducks are generally found roosting here during the winter months. During summer months Great Egrets, Great and Little Blue herons, and Snowy Egrets frequent Sandy's banks as well as other fresh water marshes. In fall White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, American Coots and several varieties of gulls, terns, and sandpipers can be observed.

Roadside canopies of oak-hickory-elm and brushy cover left for wildlife provide food and shelter for several species of sparrows, warblers, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, and Greater Roadrunner, to name a few. Nesting boxes are frequently used by Eastern Bluebirds and in the same vicinity Painted and Indigo buntings can be found.

The Craven Nature Trail, located on the north road entering the refuge, winds through 1 mile of deciduous hardwoods and marsh environment of cattails, rushes, and lotus pads of Dick's pond. Rails, up to four species; grebes, mainly Pied-billed; occasionally Anhingas, Wood Storks, White-faced Ibis, Black and Turkey vultures, and several species of owl can be seen or heard at different times of the day and season. Two hundred fifty-five species of birds have been recorded on the refuge.

There are camping facilities at the headquarters with water and toilets, and primitive camping at the Management Unit and Nida Point and in the spring and summer. Motels and restaurants are located in Tishomingo. The refuge is open during daylight hours and the office is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information contact Refuge Manager, Route 1, Box 151, Tishomingo, OK 73460.

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Last modified: September 21, 2009




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