Thursday, November 4, 2021 - Durant Democrat
Fourteen volunteers from the Texoma Audubon Society spent Saturday morning picking up trash along Red River City Road south of Cartwright. The litter was adjacent to a sensitive marsh and bottomland hardwood forest on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land.
Volunteers from Durant, Colbert, Sherman, Denison and other communities bagged trash and dragged enough tires to fill a haul-away trailer in two hours of work. Two employees from the Corps of Engineers provided the trailer, trash bags, and helped with the trash pickup.
Wildlife Club students, faculty, staff, alumni, and retirees from Southeastern Oklahoma State University pitched in to assist with the clean-up.
“The amount of trash was staggering at this site. A lot of it was plastics, glass, tires, and chemical cans which are all harmful directly or indirectly to wildlife,” said Doug Wood, President of the Texoma Audubon Society.
Littering and trash dumping is illegal and harmful to wildlife and water sources. The Texoma Audubon Society encourages local residents not to litter and convince others to keep our natural areas free of trash.
“It was fantastic seeing 14 members of the Southeastern community show up and provide a positive contribution towards conservation in our local natural area,’’ Wood said. “Everyone pitched in and it was nice seeing everyone have a good time while on a service project.’’
On Sunday October 10,the Texoma Audubon Society participated in The Big Sit fall bird count (thebigsit.org). Local birders hosted Big Sit bird counts at Platter Flats and the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge and co-hosted another at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.
The Big Sit bird count is a one-day, 24-hour bird survey conducted by birders who have to remain inside a 17-foot diameter circle - stretched a bit for social distancing of course! Birders braved 20-30 MPH winds blowing dust and sand which made the count more challenging than normal.
The Platter Flats ‘Okie Ospreys’ team recorded 51 species throughout the day, the Tishomingo team recorded 47 species, but the winners of the friendly intrasquad competition was the Hagerman team with 52 species.
The counts this year had some exciting moments including sightings of raptor species such as Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Osprey, and Bald Eagle Large numbers of wading bird species were counted including Great Blue Heron, White-faced Ibis, and Great, Snowy, and Cattle Egrets.
Shorebird migration was still in full swing and birders observed interesting species such as Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, and Killdeer. A good variety of other bird species including woodpeckers, swallows, sparrows, and wrens was also counted.
Volunteer birders from various Texoma communities including Durant, Tishomingo, Ardmore, Madill, Sherman, Denison, and more participated in the counts. The Texoma Audubon Society’s mission includes participation in citizen science projects like The Big Sit to contribute data toward bird population trend monitoring.
In December, the Texoma Audubon Society (texomaaudubon.org) will participate with the annual Christmas Bird Counts in the Texoma region.
Osprey Photo - Tony Goza
A group of Southeastern Oklahoma State University professors and others with a mutual interest in birds has recently banded together to form the Texoma Audubon Society. The Texoma chapter is the brainchild of Southeastern ornithologist and professor of biology Dr. Doug Wood, and Mr. Tony Goza, a local businessman and bird enthusiast.
The Texoma Audubon Society is officially recognized by the National Audubon Society. Some 30 people attended the group’s organizational meeting, with Southeastern well-represented by a number of faculty members. Dr. Wood serves as president, while Goza is vice president. Board members with Southeastern ties include Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Teresa Golden, Dr. Jeri Walker, Professors Emeriti Dr. Bryon Clark and Dr. Margaret Avard, Dr. Mike Davis, Katy Davis, Dr. Randy Prus, and Stephanie Prus.
The Chapter’s mission is to educate local communities on issues related to bird conservation. The Texoma chapter will collaborate with government agencies, such as the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Texas and Oklahoma wildlife departments, as well as local schools and non-governmental groups. Also planned are public presentations, workshops, and field trips. With an emphasis on conservation, the chapter will also host events such as trash clean ups and habitat restoration.
Memberships fees are $30 annually, $10 for students. Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to visit https://texomaaudubon.org for more information.
Dr. Doug Wood serves as president of the Texoma Audubon Society, while Tony Goza is vice president.
By Matt Swearengin
A new chapter of the Audubon Society is about to fly into the Texoma region and its first official meeting will be at 6 p.m. July 20 at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center & Library.
Local photographer Tony Goza and SE zoology professor Dr. Doug Wood spoke about the new chapter during a recent meeting of the Durant Rotary Club. The goals of The Texoma Audubon Society are to educate the public about wild birds and conservation, promote the study of birds, facilitate observation of birds, and fund projects aligned with its mission.
Texoma Audubon will serve counties in the Red River region of southern Oklahoma and North Texas centered on, but not limited to Durant, Sherman and Denison.
The Audubon Society was founded in 1886 for the protection of birds. Goza said he first met Dr. Wood six to eight years ago and began asking him questions about birds.
“Dr. Wood was always very patient with me,” Goza said. “Especially to know that I wasn’t one of his official students at the college and he became a mentor. He kind of took me under his wing. Not only did he teach me a lot about what I know now, but he taught me other ways of how to properly learn.
“As a result, I wanted to do something that’s bigger than me, bigger than myself that could help many more people and get other people excited about what it is that we do. And it’s not always just about taking a photo of a bird which for me, is life changing. It’s been very therapeutic. It’s kind of forced me to focus and slow down and appreciate everything that’s around me, to observe. One of my biggest things is I want to focus on education with kids. I want to create excitement and passion and share my passion with them and with anybody. For me, it’s really important to do things for the local youth and the community here.”
According to Wood, the pandemic caused people’s interest in birds to soar.
“That’s kind of a weird pathway into this but it’s true,” Wood said. “People were in isolation across the country and there was a rapid surge and curiosity and interest in birds. People spend more time at home or they had more time to go out to parks and refuges. There was suddenly this skyrocket of interest.”
Wood said people became curious, asking, “What’s this bird in my feeder?”
The proliferation of digital cameras has also created more interest with people photographing birds and putting the images on social media, according to Wood. He said Walmart frequently is out of bird seed because people are “buying it by the gallon.”
“If you told me there would be a bird seed shortage in America at some point I would be like, ‘You’re drunk, right?’
Wood said Goza was inspired because so many people are interested in birds right now and asked, “Why don’t we have an Audubon Society?”
Birds and conservation are the two key goals of The Audubon Society and Wood said how that is done can take many different forms.
“Education is primary … we’re going to partner with schools and teachers,” Wood said, adding that Texoma Audubon Society plans to have festivals to educate people.
“As Tony pointed out, educating kids is so critical,” Wood said. “There’s so much expected of them. They like critters. We will have field activities where people get outdoors and get involved.”
Texoma Audubon Society also plans to have workshops on photography and videography because that is a wonderful entry point for people to interact, according to Wood.
They also plan to blend in some conservation skills.
Those interested in learning about birds are encouraged to attend the first official chapter meeting at 6 p.m. July 20 at the library.
For more information, visit texomaaudubon.org or follow their Facebook page,
Tony Goza speaks to the Durant Rotary Club Photo - Matt Swearengin
The Texoma Audubon Society, an affiliated chapter of the National Audubon Society, strives to educate the public about wild birds and conservation, promote the study of birds, facilitate observation of birds, and fund projects aligned with our mission. Texoma Audubon serves counties in the Red River region of southern Oklahoma and North Texas centered on, but not limited to Durant, OK, Sherman TX, and Denison, TX. We welcome anyone who supports the chapter's goals such that we represent the diversity of people in our area
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PO Box 972, Durant, Oklahoma 74702 - 0972