Discover the 21 Spectacular Water Birds of Oklahoma in 2024 (ID + Pictures)

Attracting birdwatchers from around the world, Oklahoma is a haven for bird enthusiasts. With its diverse ecosystems and abundant water sources, the state is home to a remarkable variety of water birds. In this article, we will introduce you to 21 stunning water birds that you can expect to find in Oklahoma in 2024, complete with identification tips and breathtaking pictures.

From the majestic American White Pelican to the colorful Wood Duck, the water birds of Oklahoma offer a visual treat for nature lovers and photographers alike. These avian wonders can be found in the state’s lakes, ponds, and rivers, where they thrive in their natural habitats. With the help of this comprehensive guide, you’ll be able to identify these birds with ease and appreciate their beauty and uniqueness.

Prepare to be enthralled by the elegant grace of the Great Blue Heron as it stands perfectly still in the shallows, patiently waiting for its next meal. Witness the delightful acrobatics of the Black-necked Stilt as it gracefully walks on its impossibly long legs. Marvel at the vibrant colors of the Blue-winged Teal as it takes flight, its wings flashing a kaleidoscope of blues and greens.

Each bird profile in this article includes a detailed description, key identification features, and stunning photographs, allowing you to get up close and personal with these remarkable creatures. Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a beginner, this guide will inspire you to explore the incredible world of water birds in Oklahoma and deepen your love for the natural beauty that surrounds us.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

The American Wigeon is a medium-sized dabbling duck native to North America. It is known for its striking coloration and unique whistle-like call. Here are some key facts about this fascinating water bird:



  • Size: The American Wigeon measures about 16 to 23 inches in length.
  • Plumage: The male has a distinctive green patch on the side of its head, a white crown, and a grayish body. The female has a gray-brown body with a pale bluish bill.
  • Behavior: American Wigeons can often be seen foraging in groups, dipping their head underwater to feed on vegetation and invertebrates.


American Wigeons can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, ponds, and shallow lakes. During the winter months, they are commonly found along the coasts and in estuaries.

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Migratory Patterns

The American Wigeon is a migratory bird, nesting in the northern regions of North America and Alaska during the summer. In the winter, they migrate to southern parts of the United States and Mexico.

Conservation Status

The American Wigeon has a stable population and is not currently listed as a species of concern. However, threats such as habitat loss and pollution could impact their population in the future.

If you’re a bird enthusiast, be sure to keep an eye out for the American Wigeon during your next birdwatching adventure in Oklahoma!

Barrow’s Goldeneye

The Barrow’s Goldeneye is a beautiful water bird commonly found in Oklahoma. It is known for its striking black and white plumage, with a glossy green head on the male and a chocolate-brown head on the female. This medium-sized diving duck is named after Sir John Barrow, a 19th-century British explorer and author.

Barrow’s Goldeneyes are typically found in rocky rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. They are excellent divers and feed on aquatic insects, invertebrates, and small fish. During the breeding season, the males perform elaborate courtship displays, including head-bobbing and wing-flapping, to attract the females.

This species is known for its long-distance migrations. In the summer, Barrow’s Goldeneyes breed in the northern parts of North America, particularly in Alaska and Canada. In the winter, they migrate to the southern parts of the continent, including the central and eastern United States.


The male Barrow’s Goldeneye has a black body, white spots on its wings, and a distinctive yellow eye. Its head is a glossy green-black color, with a crescent-shaped white patch behind the eye. The female has a rich chocolate-brown head and body, with a smaller white patch behind the eye.

Barrow’s Goldeneyes are known for their unique breeding plumage. The males have an elongated crest on their heads, which they can raise and lower depending on their mood. During the non-breeding season, both males and females have a more subdued plumage, with less contrast between black and white.



Barrow’s Goldeneyes are considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, they still face some threats, such as habitat destruction and pollution. Conservation efforts are focused on preserving their breeding and wintering grounds, as well as ensuring the availability of suitable nesting sites.

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Scientific Name Bucephala islandica
Family Anatidae
Length 37-44 cm
Wingspan 67-70 cm
Weight 700-1200 g
Conservation Status Least Concern

Black-necked Stilt

The Black-necked Stilt is a striking bird found in Oklahoma. It is easily recognized by its long, thin legs and its black-and-white plumage. This water bird has a black head and neck, while its back and wings are white. Adult males and females look similar, but the males are usually slightly larger.

These birds are often seen in marshy areas or along the edges of lakes and ponds. They use their long legs to wade in shallow water, searching for insects, small fish, and crustaceans. Their long, thin beaks are perfectly adapted for catching their prey.

Black-necked Stilts are known for their unique and graceful walking style. They have a distinctive high-stepping gait, lifting each leg high off the ground before placing it back down. This gives them the appearance of walking on stilts, hence their name.

During the breeding season, which generally occurs from April to July, the Black-necked Stilt builds its nest on the ground near water. The nest is a shallow scrape lined with grass and other vegetation. The female usually lays three to five eggs, which are pale tan or buff with brown spots.

Black-necked Stilts are highly territorial and will defend their breeding territories aggressively. They engage in courtship displays that involve posturing, wing-flapping, and calling. Once the pair bond is formed, the male and female will take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.

If you spot a Black-necked Stilt in Oklahoma, consider yourself lucky! These elegant birds are a joy to observe and their presence adds beauty to the state’s waterways.

Eared Grebe

The Eared Grebe, also known as the Horned Grebe, is a small water bird that is commonly found in Oklahoma. It belongs to the Podicipedidae family and is known for its distinctive appearance and behavior.


  • The Eared Grebe is a small bird with a length of about 12-14 inches.
  • It has a black head and neck, and its body is mostly dark gray.
  • During breeding season, it develops a distinctive reddish-orange plumage on its neck and sides.
  • Its eyes are bright red, and it has a small slender bill.
  • Their legs and feet are blackish in color.


The Eared Grebe is primarily a freshwater bird and is commonly found in ponds, lakes, and marshes in Oklahoma.

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  • Eared Grebes are excellent swimmers and divers. They use their lobed toes to propel themselves underwater.
  • They are known for their unique mating dance, where they run on the water’s surface with their wings held high and make soft cooing sounds.
  • They mainly feed on small fish and invertebrates, which they catch by diving underwater.
  • During migration, Eared Grebes form large flocks and can be seen in large numbers in Oklahoma’s lakes and reservoirs.

Overall, the Eared Grebe is a fascinating water bird that can be observed in various habitats in Oklahoma. Its distinctive appearance and unique behaviors make it a favorite among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

The Pied-billed Grebe is a small water bird that can be found in Oklahoma. It is known for its distinctive pied bill, which gives it its name. The bird is about 12 inches long and has a wingspan of 18-20 inches.

The Pied-billed Grebe is a master diver and swimmer, spending most of its time in the water. It has excellent underwater vision and can catch small fish and other aquatic invertebrates with ease.


The Pied-billed Grebe has a brownish-black body with a white belly. Its neck is short and its head is round, with a black bill that has a white band near the tip. The bird’s eyes are red. During breeding season, the adult grebe develops a small, peaked crest on its head.

Habitat and Behavior

The Pied-billed Grebe can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, such as lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers. It prefers areas with dense vegetation, where it can hide and build nests. The bird has a unique ability to sink slowly into the water, allowing it to evade predators.

This water bird is usually solitary or can be found in small groups. It is mainly active during the day, although it may also be seen at dusk and dawn. The Pied-billed Grebe is known for its distinctive call, a loud, hoarse “kow-kow-kow” sound that can be heard from a distance.

Did You Know? The Pied-billed Grebe is one of the few bird species that can swim underwater. It can stay submerged for up to 30 seconds, using its wings to propel itself through the water.

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Conservation Status: The Pied-billed Grebe is a common bird species and is not currently listed as of concern. However, habitat loss and pollution continue to pose threats to its population.


What are some types of water birds that can be seen in Oklahoma?

Some types of water birds that can be seen in Oklahoma include the American White Pelican, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, and Double-crested Cormorant.

Are there any rare or endangered water birds in Oklahoma?

Yes, there are rare and endangered water birds in Oklahoma. One example is the Whooping Crane, which is highly endangered and only a few individuals are left in the wild.

What is the best time of year to see water birds in Oklahoma?

The best time of year to see water birds in Oklahoma is during the spring and fall migration seasons. During these times, the birds are passing through the state on their way to breeding or wintering grounds, and can be seen in large numbers.

Where are some good locations in Oklahoma for bird watching?

There are several good locations in Oklahoma for bird watching. Some popular spots include the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, the Black Mesa State Park, and the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.


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This article is truly captivating! As an avid birdwatcher, I am always on the lookout for new species to add to my list, and Oklahoma seems to be a paradise for water bird enthusiasts like me. The pictures included in the article are simply breathtaking and make me want to book a trip to Oklahoma right away. I particularly loved the image of the American White Pelican, with its majestic wingspan and vibrant colors. The Reddish Egret and the Wood Stork also caught my attention with their unique features and graceful movements. I appreciate the comprehensive descriptions of the birds, as well as their habitats and behaviors. It’s fascinating to learn about the diverse range of water birds found in Oklahoma, from the iconic Bald Eagle to the charming Hooded Merganser. This article has definitely fueled my desire to explore the stunning wetlands and lakes of Oklahoma in search of these magnificent creatures. I would love to witness the Great Blue Heron in its natural habitat and maybe even spot the elusive Roseate Spoonbill. Thank you for this wonderful compilation of the 21 spectacular water birds of Oklahoma. It has certainly sparked my wanderlust and added a few more birds to my bucket list!

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Wow, I am absolutely amazed by the breathtaking water birds featured in this article! As an avid bird-watcher living in Oklahoma, I cannot wait to witness these 21 spectacular species in person in 2024. The article’s detailed descriptions and high-quality pictures have truly sparked my curiosity and excitement. I am particularly captivated by the vibrant colors and distinct features of each bird. From the beautifully plumed Wood Duck to the elegant American Avocet, each species showcased here is truly a work of art. The information provided regarding their habitats, migration patterns, and behavior is incredibly helpful for planning future bird-watching trips. As someone who values nature and conservation, I am grateful for the efforts made by organizations and individuals to protect these majestic birds and their habitats. It is heartening to learn about ongoing conservation projects and the positive impact they have on preserving these species for future generations. I am also thrilled to see that Oklahoma is becoming a hotspot for water bird sightings. With diverse ecosystems and wetland areas, it is no wonder that so many magnificent species choose to call this state home. I look forward to exploring the stunning landscapes and observing these birds in their natural habitats. The article has piqued my curiosity and motivated me to further educate myself about these birds. I am inspired to join local bird-watching groups and participate in citizen science projects that contribute to the conservation efforts in Oklahoma. The opportunity to contribute to the scientific understanding of these birds while enjoying their beauty in person is truly exciting. Overall, this article has evoked a sense of wonder and motivation within me. I am eager to witness the grandeur of these 21 water birds truly come alive in Oklahoma’s natural surroundings. With my binoculars and camera in hand, I am ready to embark on this bird-watching adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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