NEW MATERIAL (APR 2018). A section on Animal Tracks and Signs has just been completed by Nick Czaplewski, who is at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Vertebrate Paleontology. This page is at this link. A pdf download of the same material is here.
The Sutton Wilderness, being bounded by Norman suburban areas and busy roads, has less wildlife than might normally be present in areas of a similar size in more remote locations. Roads act as major barriers to slow-moving organisms such as turtles, snakes and ground-dwelling insects. Rapidly reproducing animals such as pack-rats and squirrels may be able to sustain the continual loss to traffic, but those with lower reproductive rates will gradually disappear from the vicinity of busy roads.
Wildlife is present in the Sutton, but varies seasonally and much of it can be cryptic or less-than-apparent to the casual visitor. A Bio-Blitz held in 2001 noted a variety of flora and fauna – this was conducted in only one 24-hr period. Birds are usually the most apparent component of the fauna. We begin by discussing them first.
Birds and they seasonal variation
The birds found in the Sutton Wilderness can be grouped roughly into those that tend to occur in lake and pond environments, those that occur in forests, and those that are most common in open areas like grasslands. These are discussed in turn here.
Hospital Lake birds
Various ducks may be the most common birds seen on Hospital lake – especially in winter. Kingfishers are occasionally seen (and heard) flying above the lake. Along the shore one often sees Great Blue Heron. In some smaller lakes the Little Green Heron is occasionally seen. In the cattail marsh below the dam one will commonly see Red Winged Blackbirds.
Cardinals, Robins, Brown Thrashers, Chickadees and wrens are perhaps the most often seen birds, though Hairy Woodpeckers and the usual European Starlings, Brown Headed Cowbirds and Boat Tailed Grackles may also be seen, perhaps closer to the parking lot.
During late spring and summer Scissor-tailed flycatchers are seen over the grasslands, along with some grassland sparrow species.
Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis), Opossums (Didelphis virginiana), Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger), Cottontails, Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) , Eastern Woodrat (Neotoma floridana), Beavers (Castor canadensis), and rarely Coyotes (Canis latrans) are the most commonly seen mammals. Of course, only squirrels and rabbits are commonly seen, as the others are mostly nocturnal when the Sutton Wilderness is “closed”. We have seen a coyote during daylight crossing the main path, and once, only once on a cold winter day – we saw a few White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) (UPDATE! On June 24th 2017 we saw one White-tailed Deer jump across the main path west of the parking lot near 8PM. This was only the second time in 20+ years we have seen deer in the wilderness, but perhaps they would be more evident at night(?). This will be increasingly rare, given the growth of neighborhoods on the northern and eastern sides of the Sutton Wilderness.
Gray and Black Rat Snakes, Green Snakes, Ribbon Snakes, water snakes, Dekay’s snake, etc have been seen, along with a very few Texas Horned Lizards and Glass Lizards. Ornate and Three-toed Box Turtles are occasionally seen, and in the water the Red-eared Slider is the main turtle. Common Snapping Turtles are common as well but they are more aquatic and do generally not bask, so are not often seen by most visitors.
Bullfrogs, leopard frogs, cricket frogs, gray tree frogs, narrow-mouth toads, woodhouse’s toad
Try to identify the fauna (or their evidence) visible in the images shown below.
and a few more…