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Picher Chat Piles
Ottowa County

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From the 1986 edition of A Guide to Birding in Oklahoma published by the Tulsa Audubon Society. This account has not been reviewed or updated to ensure accuracy.

Picher is an old lead and zinc mining area. It has a large quantity of "chat", tailing or gravel piles left from the mines, throughout the area. These tailings provide nesting sites for Bank Swallows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, plus some Cliff Swallows and a few Barn Swallows. In the Mineral Heights chat pile Belted Kingfishers and American Kestrels have nested in the past. This is the easiest of the chat piles to visit and the Bank Swallows nest consistently.

To get to the Mineral Heights chat pile, travel to Picher on US 69. (To reach US 69, exit from I 44 at Miami.) Going north, turn right on 7 St. and continue east four blocks. After crossing the railroad tracks note the Mineral Heights chat pile to the south of the road. The swallows are active from March 31 to August 4, with peak activity from May 1 to June 20.

Another interesting species is the Long-eared Owl. These roost in the Picher area from December to February. The colonial roost is located at "Blue Mound" just north of Picher on US 69, which is Connell St. in Picher. A total of 33 Long-eared Owls at one time have roosted at Blue Mound for over twelve years. There are lowlands and marshes in the immediate vicinity of the chat piles, plus several streams, good habitat for warblers during spring migration.

To the west of Picher about 4 miles the Greater Prairie-Chickens boom in early mornings before daylight the first two weeks in April. A total of 10 booming grounds were located in the immediate area during this time frame.

The contact persons for permission and directions to Blue Mound are Sam Freeman, 516 S. River St., Picher, OK 74360, telephone (918) 6731063, or A. L. Suman, 214 S. Vantage St., Picher, OK 74360.





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Last modified: September 21, 2009




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