Camp Gruber

Migratory Bird Survey

Dan recording the results of a count.

Dan recording the results of a count.

Camp Gruber is an Oklahoma Army National Guard training center located near Muskogee, Oklahoma. A wide range of training activities takes place there for National Guardsmen and other military personnel as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel. One task of the Environmental Section at Camp Gruber is to monitor and maintain environmental quality, including the health of wildlife populations and their habitats.

Over 60,000 acres (24,000 ha) of habitat are available at Camp Gruber, much of it undisturbed except for a network of rough, little used, one-lane dirt roads. About half of this total acreage is available for training use and the other half is set aside as a game management area with limited access by the public.

Partial map of Camp Gruber, showing roads, forests (blue), and grasslands(yellow).

Partial map of Camp Gruber, showing roads, forests (blue), and grasslands(yellow).

The Sutton Center was contracted to conduct bird surveys along 100 m transects at 89 randomly selected points distributed between the training portion of the site and the game management area. A comparison can then be made between species diversity on the training site and that off the training site in a largely undisturbed adjacent area. Occurrence of less common species can also be evaluated to determine any preference for one or the other areas.

The surveys took place in May and June, 1998, and again in 1999. On the 89 counts surveyed in 1998, we recorded 93 bird species and approximately 2,750 individuals, including year-round residents and wintering, transient, and breeding migrants. In 1999, we recorded 81 species and 3,289 individuals.

Survey Results

cgplotsThe survey of Neotropical migrant and other species of birds was carried out at Camp Gruber Training Center, Cherokee Public Hunting Area, and Cherokee Game Management Area, on 4 May to 5 June 1998, and again in 1999.The survey was made at 89 Land Condition Trend Analysis (LCTA) plots, red dots on map at left, each of which was visited twice (once in the morning and once in the evening). The observers counted all birds following the LCTA count methodology.

On this and the following maps, the green color indicates forested habitat, and the dark yellow indicates open habitat (grassland, urban / cantonment, and open woodland).



A total of 2750 individual birds of 93 species was recorded on the counts in 1998, with an additional ten species recorded at Camp Gruber, but not during the counts. The median number of species per plot was 15, with a range from six to 25. The average number of individual birds per plot was 30.9, with a range from ten to 75, but between 22 and 37 individuals were recorded on most plots.




Bird species were divided into five migratory status categories. The numbers of individuals in the wintering and transient categories were low. Of the three categories in which individuals also breed at Camp Gruber, the most frequently detected were resident species, followed by short-distance and then by long-distance migrants.

cghabitThe bird species were also divided by placing them in five habitat-use categories. The greatest number of individuals was recorded in the forest habitat, with the second greatest number in edge habitats, where forest and open habitats come together. Fewer birds were recorded in the aerial (swallows and swifts), aquatic (herons, ducks, and so forth), and grassland categories.





cgdickcWe present here a pair of maps of species showing their contrasting patterns of distribution at Camp Gruber.Dickcissels occurred only in the open habitat, specifically in the grassland.






cgreviRed-eyed Vireos, in contrast, were never found in the open habitat, but only in the forested habitats.Some other species, such as Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Indigo Bunting, were found about as often in the open habitat as in the forest.


Camp Gruber serves as a stopover site for Neotropical migrant birds, but transient migrants composed only about 3.3 % of the total number of birds recorded during the survey. This number may belie the actual importance of Camp Gruber to transients, because transients are less likely to be detected than species breeding in the area.

The habitat diversity at Camp Gruber seems to be generally good, providing large areas of moderately-mature forest, small open patches within that forest, open woodland, much edge, grassland, urban areas in the cantonment, plus marshes, ponds, wetlands, streamsides, and aquatic habitat. This diverse mosaic of habitats provides breeding and foraging areas for many species of birds. Although the entire area probably should not be allowed to return to mature, tall trees, the current trend toward maturing of the forest should be allowed to continue over some fairly large areas.

No threatened or endangered species were recorded at Camp Gruber during this survey. Two birds, the threatened Piping Plover and the endangered subspecies Interior Least Tern, may occur in migration on the Arkansas River that forms the northwestern boundary of Camp Gruber. Possibly the most unique and rare species encountered at Camp Gruber during this survey was Henslow’s Sparrow.

Species Observed

The following table is a list of all 103 species recorded during the counts in 1998 and 1999 at Camp Gruber.

Species  Scientific Name  Family
Great Egret  Ardea alba  Ardeidae
Cattle Egret  Bubulcus ibis  Ardeidae
Little Blue Heron  Egretta caerulea  Ardeidae
Black Vulture  Coragyps atratus  Cathartidae
Turkey Vulture  Cathartes aura  Cathartidae
Northern Harrier  Circus cyaneus  Accipitridae
Cooper’s Hawk  Accipiter cooperii  Accipitridae
Red-shouldered Hawk  Buteo lineatus  Accipitridae
Broad-winged Hawk  Buteo platypterus  Accipitridae
Red-tailed Hawk  Buteo jamaicensis  Accipitridae
Wild Turkey  Meleagris gallopavo  Phasianidae
Northern Bobwhite  Colinus virginianus  Odontophoridae
Killdeer  Charadrius vociferus  Charadriidae
Rock Dove  Columba livia  Columbidae
Mourning Dove  Zenaida macroura  Columbidae
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  Coccyzus americanus  Cuculidae
Eastern Screech-Owl  Otus asio  Strigidae
Great Horned Owl  Bubo virginianus  Strigidae
Barred Owl  Strix varia  Strigidae
Common Nighthawk  Chordeiles minor  Caprimulgidae
Chuck-will’s-widow  Caprimulgus carolinensis  Caprimulgidae
Chimney Swift  Chaetura pelagica  Apodidae
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  Archilochus colubris  Trochilidae
Red-headed Woodpecker  Melanerpes erythrocephalus  Picidae
Red-bellied Woodpecker  Melanerpes carolinus  Picidae
Downy Woodpecker  Picoides pubescens  Picidae
Hairy Woodpecker  Picoides villosus  Picidae
Northern Flicker  Colaptes auratus  Picidae
Pileated Woodpecker  Dryocopus pileatus  Picidae
Olive-sided Flycatcher  Contopus cooperi  Tyrannidae
Eastern Wood-Pewee  Contopus virens  Tyrannidae
Acadian Flycatcher  Empidonax virescens  Tyrannidae
Least Flycatcher  Empidonax minimus  Tyrannidae
Unidentified Empidonax  Empidonax sp.  Tyrannidae
Eastern Phoebe  Sayornis phoebe  Tyrannidae
Great Crested Flycatcher  Myiarchus crinitus  Tyrannidae
Eastern Kingbird  Tyrannus tyrannus  Tyrannidae
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  Tyrannus forficatus  Tyrannidae
White-eyed Vireo  Vireo griseus  Vireonidae
Bell’s Vireo  Vireo bellii  Vireonidae
Yellow-throated Vireo  Vireo flavifrons  Vireonidae
Blue-headed Vireo  Vireo solitarius  Vireonidae
Warbling Vireo  Vireo gilvus  Vireonidae
Red-eyed Vireo  Vireo olivaceus  Vireonidae
Blue Jay  Cyanocitta cristata  Corvidae
American Crow  Corvus brachyrhynchos  Corvidae
Fish Crow  Corvus ossifragus  Corvidae
Purple Martin  Progne subis  Hirundinidae
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  Stelgidopteryx serripennis  Hirundinidae
Barn Swallow  Hirundo rustica  Hirundinidae
Carolina Chickadee  Poecile carolinensis  Paridae
Tufted Titmouse  Baeolophus bicolor  Paridae
White-breasted Nuthatch  Sitta carolinensis  Sittidae
Carolina Wren  Thryothorus ludovicianus  Troglodytidae
Marsh Wren  Cistothorus palustris  Troglodytidae
Sedge Wren  Cistothorus platensis  Troglodytidae
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  Polioptila caerulea  Sylviidae
Eastern Bluebird  Sialia sialis  Turdidae
Gray-cheeked Thrush  Catharus minimus  Turdidae
Swainson’s Thrush  Catharus ustulatus  Turdidae
Wood Thrush  Hylocichla mustelina  Turdidae
Gray Catbird  Dumetella carolinensis  Mimidae
Northern Mockingbird  Mimus polyglottos  Mimidae
Brown Thrasher  Toxostoma rufum  Mimidae
European Starling  Sturnus vulgaris  Sturnidae
Cedar Waxwing  Bombycilla cedrorum  Bombycillidae
Tennessee Warbler  Vermivora peregrina  Parulidae
Nashville Warbler  Vermivora ruficapilla  Parulidae
Northern Parula  Parula americana  Parulidae
Yellow Warbler  Dendroica petechia  Parulidae
Yellow-rumped Warbler  Dendroica coronata  Parulidae
Yellow-throated Warbler  Dendroica dominica  Parulidae
Prairie Warbler  Dendroica discolor  Parulidae
Black-and-white Warbler  Mniotilta varia  Parulidae
American Redstart  Setophaga ruticilla  Parulidae
Prothonotary Warbler  Protonotaria citrea  Parulidae
Ovenbird  Seiurus aurocapillus  Parulidae
Louisiana Waterthrush  Seiurus motacilla  Parulidae
Kentucky Warbler  Oporornis formosus  Parulidae
Common Yellowthroat  Geothlypis trichas  Parulidae
Yellow-breasted Chat  Icteria virens  Parulidae
Summer Tanager  Piranga rubra  Thraupidae
Field Sparrow  Spizella pusilla  Emberizidae
Savannah Sparrow  Passerculus sandwichensis  Emberizidae
Grasshopper Sparrow  Ammodramus savannarum  Emberizidae
Henslow’s Sparrow  Ammodramus henslowii  Emberizidae
Lincoln’s Sparrow  Melospiza lincolnii  Emberizidae
Chipping Sparrow  Spizella passerina  Emberizidae
Lark Sparrow  Chondestes grammacus  Emberizidae
White-crowned Sparrow  Zonotrichia leucophrys  Emberizidae
Northern Cardinal  Cardinalis cardinalis  Cardinalidae
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  Pheucticus ludovicianus  Cardinalidae
Blue Grosbeak  Guiraca caerulea  Cardinalidae
Indigo Bunting  Passerina cyanea  Cardinalidae
Painted Bunting  Passerina ciris  Cardinalidae
Dickcissel  Spiza americana  Cardinalidae
Red-winged Blackbird  Agelaius phoeniceus  Icteridae
Eastern Meadowlark  Sturnella magna  Icteridae
Common Grackle  Quiscalus quiscula  Icteridae
Brown-headed Cowbird  Molothrus ater  Icteridae
Orchard Oriole  Icterus spurius  Icteridae
Baltimore Oriole  Icterus galbula  Icteridae
American Goldfinch  Carduelis tristis  Fringillidae


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