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Grainola Area
Osage 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.


This report primarily concerns the Greater Prairie-Chicken and birds of prey. The area is 80% native tall grass prairie with grain fields, ponds, and marshes. The route is broken occasionally with small streams and riparian woodlands or with heavy windbreaks of red cedar on the high plateaus. Prairie-Chickens are numerous and can be observed in morning and evening feeding in grain fields around Grainola from early October through February. After March 1 they can easily be located on their booming grounds in the Hardy area and are not ordinarily seen in grain fields.

Hardy is best approached on the west from Newkirk. Begin the route at Skiatook in northern Tulsa County, going west on SH 20 nearly to Ralston, then north on SH 18 to Shidler. From Shidler (0.0) go west on SH 11, crossing Kaw Reservoir, to US 77 (25.0) and north to Newkirk (9.0). Follow Main St. north to 7 St. and turn east (0.0). Cross the railroad tracks and follow the blacktop 11 miles to turn north on a graveled road as shown on the map. From this point it is 8 to 10 miles north to Hardy. Watch for the big relay tower on the left. Hardy is very small with few houses and is easily missed. It might be helpful to spend a night in Ponca City or in Newkirk, giving one an opportunity to drive out the evening before to check out the various booming grounds. The best way to see the chickens is from a car at daybreak. The grounds can be watched from a car, but to get closer to the display area permission would need to be secured.

To reach Grainola follow the above route to Shidler, continuing north for 12 miles on SH 18. Drive slowly past the many grain fields, stopping now and then to scan with binoculars. Many times the chickens will fly over or walk to the road. This is beautiful country where one can see for miles in any direction. In spring the grasses are sprinkled with a rainbow of wildflowers; in winter the big bluestem, washed with winter sun, turns into a sea of gold.

During winter months the prairies between Grainola and Hardy attract many birds of prey. Red-tailed and Rough-legged hawks, Harriers, and Kestrels are abundant. Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks; Ferruginous Hawks; both Golden and Bald eagles; many Prairie Falcons and a few Merlins have been observed. Great Horned, Burrowing, and Barred owls are here but are not easily found. Short-eared Owls are expected in some locations. From October through April many ducks and geese frequent the lakes and ponds and feed in the grain fields.

To drive across the prairies from Grainola, take an old blacktop road (mostly gravel) 0.5 mile north of town (0.0) west 8 miles to cross a cattle guard into a large ranch. Follow the road past the first big barn (2.5) with a hill on the north. A short distance ahead is a modern ranch home and a lake south of the road. The route turns north then west, twice again past two more large barns and the big tower looms across the prairie. The next north-south road is the one leading north to Hardy or south to the Newkirk road.

 

 

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Last modified: September 21, 2009

 

 

 

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