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Current Wildlife Events

Summer Events at Oxley Nature Center

Wildflowers     Ferns     Forests and Prairies
Butterflies     Other Insects & Arthropods
Fish     Reptiles & Amphibians (Herps)     Birds     Mammals

What's blooming? Starting around the first of July, Blackbird Marsh is spectacular with the flowering of American lotus! Members of the daisy family and the pea family are in full bloom this time of year. The royal purple of ironweed makes a fine show with the rich color of goldenrod. By the way, goldenrod causes very few allergies, but it blooms about the same time that ragweed does. The green pollen-shaker flowers of ragweed are hard to see, but they distribute tons of fine, air-borne pollen, up until frost. To identify what's in the photo, run the cursor over the picture (this should work on all the photos) and a label will appear. The fourth Saturday and the following Sunday Oxley Nature Center hosts free Wildflower Walks. Please check the current calendar for times. Pre-registration is not required.
American lotus coneflowers ironweed

Redbud Valley's ferns may be dried-up and shriveled, unless they have found a damp shady place to grow. Look for powdery cloakfern and purple cliffbrake along the top of the bluff where the trail goes up from the parking lot. Ebony spleenwort may be found along the mossy wall where the trail goes through the ravine. Bright green woodsia sprouts out of the bluffs near the springs and caves. powdery cloakfern
purple cliffbrake ebony spleenwort woodsia
Forests and Prairies: Summer drought may cause trees to drop their leaves. This is normal "summer dormancy", and new leaves will appear in late summer when the drought ends. By the end of August, sumac species are already turning scarlet.

The big prairie grasses send their flowering stalks shooting upwards now, sometimes towering overhead at 8 or 9 feet!
Meadowlark Prairie
Butterflies: Butterflies love hot summer weather, but they need enough rain to find drinking water and flowers full of nectar. Caterpillars are everywhere! Summer is when many of the big butterflies become numerous: swallowtails, fritillaries, monarchs are all easier to find. The second Saturday of each month from spring until fall, Oxley Nature Center hosts a free Butterfly ID program and/or hike, weather permitting, Please check the current calendar for times. Pre-registration is not required.
tiger swallowtail gulf fritillary monarch
One way to learn the butterflies is to keep a record of what species of butterflies you see, and how many of each species. Go to the North American Butterfly Association's website and click on the "Butterflies I've Seen" database. Log on (it's free), and post your observations. bronze copper
On the July 1, 2003 Tulsa Count, 53 species of butterflies were found, and 1397 individual butterflies were counted! This year's count added several species never before observed on the Tulsa Count: Bronze Copper, Arogos Skipper, Broad-winged Skipper, Byssus Skipper, and Tawny-edged Skipper.
Other insects and arthropods: Insects provide the soundtrack for a summer day or a summer night. Pay attention to the different voices. One kind of cicada (the big goggle-eyed insect many of us call "locust") sings during the morning, after temperatures rise to about 80 degrees. Other species of cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids call during the afternoon or evening. Early reports predicted a big population of grasshoppers this summer. True locusts are a large grasshopper that can occur in gigantic flocks.
cicada grasshopper fall webworms at work
Fall webworms are already at work, weaving webs around their hungry colonies. Before you rush out to deal with them, consider this. One of the Oxley staff naturalists spent many hot, sweaty hours one summer removing all the webworm colonies from the trees in her yard with a long pole. The trees barely had any leaves left on them, webworm-eaten? summer dormancy? Well, when the fall rains began, and the trees leafed out again in September, it was impossible to see any difference between the trees she had cleared of caterpillars and the untended, definitely webworm-eaten trees of the nearby roadsides. All had recovered equally well.
As for mosquitoes, remember that when insecticide is used, many species other than mosquitoes may be affected. Do your part to control mosquitoes in your area; make sure you have eliminated potential breeding places, such as stagnant water in birdbaths, saucers under flowerpots, and clogged gutters. Abandoned tires are one of the worst sources of mosquito breeding places since they hold water so persistently. For more information about West Nile Virus, check out this article from the North American Butterfly Association. Natural mosquito controls include spiders, robber flies, and dragonflies.
micrathena spider robberfly dragonfly
Chiggers, the larvae of a small red mite, become active when the temperature goes above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Ticks are also plentiful now. Both chiggers and ticks are more likely to be encountered if you go off-trail and brush against, sit upon, or push through tall grass and thick vegetation. Repellents help, but it's best to bathe and then change clothes from the skin outward as soon as possible after your hike. By the time your chigger bite begins to itch, the chigger itself is long gone. It will take your skin about 10 days to heal, longer if you scratch the bite and get it infected.


Fish: At the water's edge, look for gambusia, also known as mosquitofish. Mosquitofish are much like guppies: they do not grow very big, and instead of laying eggs they give birth to live young. The mosquitofish that are more than an inch long and look very lumpy in the belly are probably pregnant females. Mosquitofish are predators, eating other aquatic creatures that will fit in their mouths; they do eat mosquito larvae.

If no rain keeps the water moving through creeks and lakes, fish can begin to die from lack of oxygen. Some species can tolerate poor water conditions better than others.
Herps: Warm spring weather first brought out both amphibians and reptiles. Now the hot, dry weather can send them into hiding again. Snakes are harder to find when the weather turns hot, and that's why chiggers become so annoying. If they cannot feed on reptiles, their favorite food, chiggers turn to other sources of food, like us. Redbud Valley has had an occasional copperhead or rattlesnake reported, so be sure to wear closed-toe shoes when you hike there. Box turtles may be found along area roads and trails. A brief rustle in the leaves at the side of the trail tells you there was a lizard that just whisked itself away, or you may be lucky enough to spy a tiny baby skink. The only frog voices of summer are the slow, deep "Ba-a-a-r-r-umph!" of an occasional bullfrog and the noisy, sheep-like "Baaaaa!" of narrow-mouth toads, also known as sheep frogs. copperhead (venomous)
Photo by Susie Ruby
Bullfrog Three-toed Box Turtle Skink
Birds: Oxley Nature Center hosts a free bird-watching hike jointly with the Tulsa Audubon Society on the first Saturday of each month, from 8:00 am to about 9:45 am. There is no registration, just bring your binoculars, if you have them, and join us. Also, the Tulsa Audubon Society goes birding every Tuesday morning. They depart from the Tulsa Garden Center's parking lot (2435 South Peoria) at 7:30 am. The morning's observations end with a potluck picnic. New birders are welcome.
Although Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds arrived in Tulsa in April, they are scarce at backyard feeders until some time in July. At that time there will be adult males with bright red throats, as well as females and juveniles with white throats. Hang out feeders filled with one part sugar to 4 parts water, preferably in an area protected by trees and shrubs.

During hot dry weather, providing fresh water for drinking and bathing is more important to birds and other wildlife than putting out food.
prothonotary warbler bathing
Bird migration begins during the summer. Least terns which nested on the sandbars of the Arkansas River will be among the first to leave, followed by shorebirds and purple martins. Before the purple martins leave in early August, you can observe the spectacle of their huge flocks gathering during the evenings. Watch along power lines or in the trees along the Arkansas River. purple martins
The Nature Center continues to get phone calls from people who have found injured or orphan birds. If you decide to assist an injured bird or other wildlife, please be careful and sensible so that you do not get injured, also. And be very sure the nestling or other wildlife baby is truly orphaned before you try to help it. In most cases, keeping curious fingers and excited pets away is the best thing you can do.
Mammals: Most of the baby animals of the past spring are now gawky adolescents and young adults. Once they leave their parents, young coyotes and raccoons and groundhogs search for their own territories, not always eating as well as adults with established homes. Some of the smaller mammals born this spring, like rodents and rabbits, are now having babies or even grandbabies of their own! The summer heat can be hard on animals wearing fur; mammals are usually lying low during the middle of the day. The best time for finding deer and other mammals out roaming around is to walk the trails just after sunrise, or during the long summer evenings, parking outside Oxley's main gate or at Shelter #4. groundhog
Wildflowers     Ferns     Forests and Prairies
Butterflies     Other Insects & Arthropods
Fish     Reptiles & Amphibians (Herps)     Birds     Mammals
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Photos by Donna Horton, unless otherwise noted.



For general information send e-mail to Oxley@ci.tulsa.ok.us or call (918) 669-6644.  
Send e mail to John Kennington with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2006 Mary K. Oxley Nature Center Association, Inc.
Last modified: February 20, 2010



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