Alabama & Mississippi: Summer 2018

The Summer 2018, Jun 1, 2018-Jul 31, 2018

John A. Trent
4819 Pleasant Hill Road
Midway, AL 36053
[email protected]

Recommended Citation: Trent, J.A. 2018. The Summer 2018: Alabama and Mississippi. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-8QR> North American Birds.

Generally, the region’s weather this season was typical with no extremes or tropical systems. An exception, though, was Tuscaloosa which in July received 11.8 inches of rain, a record for the month.  This season, summering waterfowl were widespread and Mississippi had the most notable rarities.  No significant breeding range expansions were noted. However, several species were confirmed or observed in areas with few nesting records.

Contributors (subregional editors in boldface): Jane C. Allen, Katie Barnes, Wayne Baumgartner, Jeremy Black, Isaac Boden, Charles W. Boley, Christopher Clark, Abby Darrah, Bob Dellinger, John Dixon, Brady Dunaway, Timothy L. Evans, Susan Fondy, Larry F. Gardella, Frank Gigliotti, Neil Gilbert, Sam Gray, Andrew Haffenden, Thomas M. Haggerty, R. Stan Hamilton, Ken Hare, Jeffery Harris, Eric Haskell, Lynn Hathaway, Chuck Hill, Sharon S. Hudgins, Greg D. Jackson, Brian Johnston, Adam & Gina Kent, Ronald J. & Rick L. Kittinger, Bob Kornegay, Beverly Lawless, George Lee, Paul Mack, Marybeth Lima, Andrew Lydeard, Logan McCord, Anna-Elizabeth McCloud, Matt Morrow, Sue R. Moske, Rick Newman, Bill Parker, Michael Parrish, Wayne Patterson, Jack Paul, Ashley S. Peters, Steven Reagan, Daniel Redwine, Emma Rhodes, Frank Sanford, Marion Schiefer, Terence L. Schiefer, Don & Judy Self, Frank John Serio, Damien J. Simbeck, Renea Simpson, Regina Snow, Collin Stempien, Charly Stephenson, Jimmy Stephenson, Bill Summerour, Julie Taylor, John A. Trent, Mariah & Daniel West, James White, Randy White, Cynthia Worthington, Hannah C. Wright

Abbreviations:  B.B.P. (Black Belt Prairie physiographic region of cen. AL and e.-cen. MS); Blakeley (Blakeley I. dredge settling ponds, Alabama State Port Authority, Mobile, AL); Dauphin (Dauphin I., Mobile, AL); F.W.F.T.A. (Forever Wild Field Trial Area, Hale, AL); G.C. (Gulf coastal region of s. AL); I.C.P. (inland coastal plain region of s.-cen. AL); Leighton (sinkhole pond complex at Leighton, Colbert, AL); M.R. (Mountain rRegion of n. AL); O.C.L. (Oktibbeha County Lake, Oktibbeha, MS); T.V. (Tennessee Valley region of n. AL); W.P.S.L. (West Point Sewage Lagoon, Clay, MS); “seven-county area” refers to the following seven counties in Mississippi near Starkville: Choctaw, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Webster, Winston.

WATERFOWL

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Noxubee N.W.R., Noxubee 22 Jun–8 Jul (m. ob.) represented the tenth seven-county area record; all these have been since 2015. North Alabama had birds in two locations:  seven near Florence, Lauderdale 22 Jul (WB), and 2 at Leighton, Colbert 1-8 Jul m. ob. (WB, AEM et al.). 64 at Blakeley 18 Jun established the maximum Black-bellied Whistling-Duck summer count for Alabama (JD). Two new sites in the I.C.P. had single Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at Cottonton, Russell 10 Jun (JAT), and there were also 31 n. of Hartford 29 Jul (RW). A male Northern Shoveler summered at Blakeley, representing the fourth summer record for the G.C. (LFG et al.), and 1-2 individuals were n. of Faunsdale, Hale 24 Jun–20 Jul. This represents the third summer record for the I.C.P. (D&JS et al.). A Gadwall pair were at McLeod, Noxubee 13-28 Jun, providing the fifth summer record for the seven-county area (TLS). A female Gadwall, rare in summer in the T.V., was at Leighton through 25 Jun (DJS et al). The maximum summer count for Mallard in Alabama was 150 on 9 Jul at Leighton (DJS), and a new high count for Mottled Duck in Alabama was 77 at Blakeley 23 Jun (LFG).

A male Canvasback  w. of Florence, Lauderdale 19-23 Jul represented the third summer record for the T.V. (ph. DJS, WB). At Leighton, a male Redhead continued from spring through 25 Jun (ph. DJS), providing the second summer record for the T.V.  Ring-necked Ducks, casual in summer, were scattered through the central and northern reaches of the B.B.P.  In Alabama, 1-2 males were at the F.W.F.T.A. 11-22 Jun (JAT, HCW).  In Mississippi, a  pair continued from spring at O.C.L. through 28 Jun (TLS), and a male was seen 3 Jun near Macon, Noxubee (TLS, MS). Respectively, these formed the eighth and ninth summer records for the seven-county area.  Another male Ring-necked Duck was at the Tupelo W.T.P., Lee 2-17 Jun (ph. WP, CW, BD).  At least two Lesser Scaup continued from spring through 16 Jul at Leighton (DJS). Singles in Hale, AL, were s. of Browns 25 Jun (SRM) and sw. of Whitsitt 2 Jul (AL) providing, respectively, the fourth and fifth summer I.C.P. records.  Alabama’s first summer Long-tailed Duck was found at Dauphin 16 Jun (ML, LH).  A female Red-breasted Merganser, notable in the I.C.P., was at Eufaula N.W.R. 26 Jun. This was the first summer record for this region (BK).  Since 2014, summering Ruddy Ducks have been expected at catfish aquaculture ponds in the B.B.P. in Hale.  This season’s high count was 32 at Sledge 20 Jul (RJ&RLK, FS).  Up to 4 were at W.P.S.L. 1 Jun–24 Jul, providing the fifth summering record—all these since 2014—for the seven-county area (TLS, MS, MP, BJ).  Ruddy Duck is casual in summer in the T.V.; up to 5 were at Leighton 6 Jul (CH et al.).


DOVES THROUGH SHOREBIRDS

1-2 Inca Doves continued from spring through 17 Jul near Faunsdale, Marengo (m. ob.). This is Alabama’s only known interior site for this species, and the birds were first discovered here in 2016. Inca Doves are increasing along the G.C.; in Baldwin one was at Silverhill 12-19 Jun (BS), and up to four were n. of Summerdale 9-25 Jul (BS, CC et al.). White-winged Doves were present throughout the season at Greenville, Washington, MS, with 30 the highest number observed (FJS). White-winged Doves are increasing in the I.C.P. Singles were recorded at Daleville, Dale 3 Jun (SF), Eufaula, Barbour 23 Jun (ph. JT), and Prattville, Autauga 13 Jul (LM). An estimated 500 Chimney Swifts in Huntsville, Madison set the maximum summer count for Alabama 31 Jul (MM).  Family groups of Purple Gallinules, in total 15 birds, were at Eufaula N.W.R. 16 Jun, establishing the maximum summer count for Alabama  (RS, BK).  Common Gallinules are uncommon in the region’s northern reaches, so a nesting pair at Tupelo W.T.P. was rare for Lee, MS (WP et al.). Alabama’s high summer count for Common Gallinule was 125 in the lower Mobile River Delta region in Baldwin/Mobile, 7 Jun (ER, KB, KH NG, et al). A Limpkin at Wheeler N.W.R., Morgan, 10-13 Jul was the ninth Alabama record, and the first for the T.V. (p.a. GL et al.).

Two Black-necked Stilts, notable inland, were at F.W.F.T.A. 19 Jun (ph. ASP, KH). This represented the second summer record for the I.C.P. Another was at McLeod, Noxubee, MS 26 Jul (ph. JH, MS, MP).  Black-necked Stilts are rare breeders in n. Alabama, but nesting was confirmed at Leighton with up to seven birds—including a pair of recently fledged birds 4 Jun—present. This is inland Alabama’s fourth nesting record. (RJ&RLK et al.).  In Mississippi, Webster had its first American Avocet at Eupora 30 Jul (TLS, MS, JH, BD, SG). 200 Killdeer represented the maximum summer count for the I.C.P. 23 Jul w. of Tuscaloosa (NG, FG). A Whimbrel was on Dauphin 13 Jun, where they are occasional  (CS). Up to six Marbled Godwits from 22 Jun-25 Jul was a notable count from several locations in the G.C., where the species is generally rare in summer (m.ob.). The maximum summer count of Sanderling in Alabama, 115, was tallied on Pelican Pen. 29 Jul (AH). A single Baird’s Sandpiper w. of Florence, Lauderdale 23-30 Jul was a notable late-summer find in the T.V. (DJS). Two late White-rumped Sandpipers were at McLeod, Noxubee MS 13 Jun (TLS), and the two at Blakeley 23 Jun (LFG) represented an all-time departure record for Alabama. 100 Pectoral Sandpipers w. of Florence, Lauderdale, on 28 Jul set the maximum summer count for north Alabama (DJS).  A late Semipalmated Sandpiper was at McCleod, Noxubee MS (TLS), on 15 Jun, and 94 at Blakeley 1 Jun represented the maximum summer count for the G.C. (CS). The third summer record of Wilson’s Snipe for the I.C.P.  was an individual at F.W.F.T.A. 22 Jun (JAT).

TERNS THROUGH FALCONS

An early Least Tern  at W.P.S.L. 26 Jun tied the previous arrival date for the seven-county area (TLS, MS, BP). Two at Demopolis, Marengo on 2 Jul represented the fourth I.C.P. record (AL). Nine Wood Storks in Satsuma, Mobile on 7 Jun set the maximum G.C. record (JS). Wood Storks are rare in the T.V.; one was at Leighton 25 Jun–7 Jul (DJS), and two were at Huntsville, Madison 23 Jul (CWB). The highest number tallied in Noxubee, MS, this season was 75 on 20 Jul (TLS, MS). Anhingas were spotted in two Mississippi counties that contain few or no previous records: two at Okolono, Chickasaw 7 Jul (WP), and two at Eupora, Webster 23 (IB, MS). Seven Anhingas in Saginaw, Shelby 27 Jun set the maximum summer count for north Alabama (M&DW) one in McCalla, Jefferson was at a new site for the M.R. 31 Jul (SSH). Up to 128 American White Pelicans summered for the second year at O.C.L; this previously occurred in 2016 (TLS et al.). The maximum summer count of American White Pelican for n. Alabama was 158, tallied on 3 Jun at Wheeler Dam, Lawrence (DJS). A Brown Pelican was a notable find at Wilson Dam, Lauderdale 6 Jun, providing the first summer record for the T.V. (TMH).

Regional high counts for egrets and herons in north Alabama included 403 Great Egrets at Leighton 31 Jun (DR) and—both from Wheeler Dam, Lawrence—2191 Cattle Egrets 30 Jun (DJS, JP) and 63 Black-crowned Night-Herons 28 Jul (DJS). Roseate Spoonbills were widespread this year. One 2 Jun (SR) and nine juveniles 12-16 Jun (RS, TLS), both observations from Noxubee N.W.R., were earlier than average for the seven-county area. Roseate Spoonbills are increasing in Alabama. 11, the maximum summer number in the state, were at Daphne, Baldwin, and present throughout much of the reporting period (KB, LFG). The species, uncommon in the T.V., was present w. of Florence, Lauderdale 26 Jun–6 Jul (DJS et al.), and up to four were at Leighton 2 Jul+ (m.ob.). These represent the fifth and sixth summer records, respectively, for the T.V. and the latter sets the maximum summer count for north Alabama. An individual at Hartford, Geneva 28 Jul represented a new site in the I.C.P. (RW) for Roseate Spoonbill. Mississippi Kites are increasing in the T.V. Up to 15, including the region’s first documented nest at St. Florian, Lauderdale, 7 Jul (TMH et al.), were present throughout the period. A Crested Caracara, very rare in the state, was n. of Vicksburg, Warren, MS 13 Jun (p.a. TLE). Because Peregrine Falcons have not nested in Alabama since 1962, any summer records are of interest. The third summer record for the M.R. (aside from historical hacking in Birmingham) was an individual in Cusseta, Chambers 16 Jul (JW).

FLYCATCHERS THROUGH BUNTINGS

Willow Flycatchers continued at established locations for the fifth consecutive year in the seven-county area. Two sites near McCleod, Noxubee, had territorial birds until 19 Jun (m.ob.), and another individual was at Columbus Lake, Clay 4-5 Jun (PM). A late Least Flycatcher, only the fourth summer record for Alabama, was on the Natchez Trace Pkwy., Colbert 4 Jun (JCA). The maximum summer count of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Alabama, nine, was w. of Whitsitt, Hale 9 Jul (D&JS). Warbling Vireo continued from spring through 5 Jun for the fifth consecutive year at Columbus L., Clay, MS (JH, PM).  27 Red-eyed Vireos on 14 Jun at Blakeley Historic Park, Baldwin provided the maximum summer count for the G.C. (LFG). An estimated 10,000 Purple Martins were at a pre-migratory roost site at McLeod, Noxubee, MS 28 Jul (ph. JH). Tree Swallow’s breeding range continues to expand south in Alabama.  Two at Eufaula N.W.R. 26 Jun was only the second summer record for Barbour (BK, RS), and singles at Fort Morgan 17 Jul (LFG) and at Blakeley 23 Jul (EH) provided the second and third summer records, respectively, for the G.C. 180 Cliff Swallows (with 59 nests) provided the maximum summer count for the G.C. at Blakeley 30 Jun (A&GK).

Gray Catbirds with recently fledged young on Dauphin 9 Jul represented the first confirmed nesting along the outer coast of Alabama (KB, AD). 11 Lark Sparrows were recorded throughout the season in Noxubee and Lowndes, MS, where they are an increasing breeder in the B.B.P. (JH, TLS, MS). The first Etowah, AL record of Lark Sparrow was in the Dunaway Mtn. quad 19 Jun (RSH). Grasshopper Sparrows are uncommon and local in the B.B.P.; singles were at regular sites in this region n.e. of West Point, Clay, MS (TLS, MS), and at Prairie, Monroe, MS 8 Jul (WP). In summer, Grasshopper Sparrows are uncommon in the I.C.P. One was at Huxford, Escambia 31 Jul (JW). A Yellow-headed Blackbird on Cat I., Harrison, MS 15 Jul was rare for summer (RN). A large flock of 740 Common Grackles on 21 Jul represented the maximum summer count for south Alabama at Faunsdale, Marengo (D&JS). A Western Tanager was reported at Long Beach, Harrison, MS 26-29 Jul, marking a very rare summer occurrence for the region (ph. BL). The famed xanthochroic male Northern Cardinal at Alabaster, Shelby, AL continued from spring, mated, and successfully fledged at least one young (CS, JB).  Painted Buntings continued to be reported in good numbers in the B.B.P. of both states, with 26 reported throughout the season (m.ob.).

Photos–Alabama & Mississippi, Summer 2018
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.