Spavinaw State Park Web Site
The Spavinaw Lake area has for many years been a choice spot to find
eastern warblers in spring migration. On a good day in early May it is
possible to find 25 or more species. From Tulsa take SH 66 to Claremore
following SH 20 through Pryor and Salina to Spavinaw. Visit the
abandoned fish hatchery at the north end of Spavinaw where a variety of
herons, including American and Least bitterns, Sora and Virginia Rails,
have been found. In very early spring Sedge Wrens are a possibility.
Both the Yellow-throated and the Pine Warbler have been observed in the
tall pines west of SH 20. The Spavinaw Hills State Park south of town
and east of SH 20 includes a part of Spavinaw Creek and a large area of
open upland oak-hickory woods.
One prime warbler spot is the wooded bottomland south of Chloeta. After
crossing Spavinaw Creek on a low-water bridge, follow a narrow, unpaved
road which leads through the woods, mostly along the base of a steep,
wooded slope, perhaps two or three hundred yards south of and parallel
to the creek. The woods on the floodplain in between consist primarily
of tall maples, ash, sweet gum, willow and sycamore. This woodland is
noted for its high concentration of warblers during the breeding season.
In years past Cerulean Warblers and Northern Parulas were abundant in
the uppermost canopy, thus presenting an opportunity for the birder to
compare and learn their confusingly similar songs. Both are early
migrants, the Parula remaining to nest. In the lower trees, especially
those with tangles of vines, look for American Redstarts during
migration. Listen for the song of Kentucky Warblers, common nesters in
thickets of young trees near water. During spring and summer one is
seldom out of earshot of the Louisiana Waterthrush. These marvelous
songsters nest regularly along the clear rocky streams, often under a
mass of exposed roots on the creek bank. Tall sycamores are "home" to
Yellow-throated Warblers. Prothonotaries nest in natural cavities or in
old woodpecker holes over or near the water.
Return to the graveled road south of Chloeta. J. L. Norman once wrote of
breeding grounds for the Blue-winged Warbler in abandoned fields near
this area, "grown up in broom sedge, blackberries, and clumps of small
persimmons". Nesting here, also, were the Prairie Warbler,
Yellow-breasted Chat and the Common Yellow-throat. Although the
Blue-winged is now considered a rare migrant, similar old fields should
be checked. Continue east toward the Upper Spavinaw (Lake Eucha) Dam
area which includes lake shore and a picnic area above the dam and the
Spavinaw Hills Game Management Area south of the dam. South of the
village of New Eucha are old fields, thickets, a picnic grove, a
cemetery, and varied lake shore.
(Lake Eucha) and Spavinaw Creek, Delaware County
Upper Spavinaw Lake lies 5 miles south of Jay on US 59-SH 10, with areas
open to the public on both sides of Lake Eucha and Spavinaw Creek. Park
at the Lake Eucha Headquarters south of the causeway and scan the lake
shore, the bridge, and the landscape. The low trees around the boat
harbor provide one of the best habitats for rare warblers in late April
and early May. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers nest near the headquarters
building. Barn and Cliff swallows nest on the supports of the bridge and
swarm in late summer.
Across US 59, at the base of the wooded bluff south of the motel, is a
narrow woods road leading into the Lake Eucha Park and Campground. Drive
about 0.2 mile; turn left through the gate which may be locked in winter
(park and walk in). Follow the road eastward along the Lake Eucha shore
to the fence at the end of the campground. Walk the lake shore and open
parklike woods. To follow the woodland nature trail, skirt fenced sewage
lagoons to the base of the bluff. An old logging road leads east (left)
about one third mile to the bed of a large ravine. Return on the trail
until it forks; take the right fork back to the fence and campground.
In spring, fall, and winter waterfowl may be numerous near the upper end
of Lake Eucha. Ospreys and Bald Eagles fish in this section. On the
wooded slope above the lowlands or even in the campgrounds
Red-shouldered Hawks may nest in late April through early July.
Woodpeckers are common including the Pileated. The Northern Parula nests
in the tree tops along the trails. Look for White-eyed Vireo and
Yellow-breasted Chat in scrubby woods near the lake shore. Kentucky
Warblers nest in the undergrowth beneath the tall trees.
On the north side of the lake, the City of Tulsa Water Department
maintains several miles of open lands rich in birdlife. West of US 59
is an extensive campground affording glimpses of the lake, wooded
hillsides, and a beautiful path up a picturesque hollow, the North Shore
Nature Trail. East of the highway from a graveled road immediately east
of the causeway stretch meadows and groves and dense fingers of
shrubbery for several miles at the head of the lake and up Spavinaw
Creek road to the Flash Flood sign. Brush Creek Bay, the iron bridge
area, shale cliffs and numerous fishermen's trails across the flood
plain to the bluff afford an exciting variety of birdlife.
Watch for nesting Loggerhead Shrikes when driving through the open
stands of Bois d'arc (hedge apple) trees on the way to the creek.
Rough-winged Swallows nest in the cut banks along the stream. Nesting
warblers are common. In season Wood Ducks will be found in the
backwater sloughs. Pileated and Red-headed woodpeckers hollow out
nesting cavities in the large sycamores and elms. Eastern Bluebirds nest
in hollow limbs in more open habitat. In winter Field, Fox, Song,
Lincoln's, Swamp, White-throated, White-crowned, and occasionally
Harris's sparrows flush from the stumps and wild rose bushes.
On the old highway
adjoining the city of Tulsa open lands nestles the Little Lewis
Whirlwind Nature School and Sanctuary. Bird study classes and group
visitations are available by arrangement. (F. M. Baumgartner, Route 2,
Jay, OK 74346, phone (918) 253-8805.) In the spring among the tall pines
in the parklike pastures are nesting Yellow-throated and Pine warblers.
Prairie Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Indigo Bunting, nest in the
brushy ravines. If your visit starts at dawn or continues into dusk, the
chorus of Chuck-will's-widows and Whip-poor-wills will be heard.
Hundreds of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are banded annually in the yard.
From the school
grounds, oak-hickory slopes plunge into the forested Brush Creek
floodplain to the east and the rugged Little Lewis Hollow to the west,
with abrupt changes of habitat and associated birdlife. The Brush Creek
bottomland is the summer home for several pairs of Yellow-crowned
Night-Herons, Wood Ducks, Pileated Woodpeckers, and a pair or two of
Red-shouldered Hawks. Six species of warblers, including several pairs
of Northern Parula, Prothonotary, and Louisiana Waterthrush, nest in the
woods near the stream.