Arkansas & Louisiana: Fall 2017

Fall 2017: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Paul E. Conover, LA

Kenny Nichols, AR

Recommended citation:

Conover, P.E., and K. Nichols, 2021. Fall 2017: Arkansas & Louisiana. <> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights include Red Knot, Red-necked Phalarope, Red Phalarope, Sabine’s Gull, Arctic Tern, and Crested Caracara.

Abbreviations: GOM (Gulf of Mexico), Lake Dardanelle (Lake Dardanelle, Yell, AR), BKNWR (Bald Knob NWR, White, AR), YRARF (Yellow Rails and Rice Festival). Significance for Arkansas records is based on Arkansas Birds, their distribution and abundance (James and Neal 1986) and the Arkansas Audubon Society (AAS) online bird record database (for records since 1986). The significance of Louisiana records is based on trends derived from the database of bird record cards submitted to and archived at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science (LSUMNS); records are taken from rare bird reports submitted to the Louisiana Bird Records Committee (LBRC) and to the Louisiana birding listserv (LABIRD). More detailed information on Louisiana rarity reports can be found at

Contributors (subregional editors in boldface):

Paul J. Baicich, Dick Baxter, Judy Butler, Terry Butler, Herman Callais, Jr., Steven W. Cardiff, Travis Certain, Charlotte Chehotsky, Paul E. Conover (Louisiana) Alyssa DeRubeis (ADR), Anant Deswal (AD), John Dillon, Donna L. Dittmann, Robert C. Dobbs, Ivan Fruge, Joelle Finley, Joan Garvey, Karen Garrett, Mark Greene, Alan Gregory, Terri Gregory, Toddy Guidry (ToG), Bob Harden (BoH), Laura Hathcock, Karen Holiday, Bill Holimon (BiH), Jay Huner, John James, Sharon James, Erik I. Johnson, Oscar Johnson, Vivek Govind Kumar, Michael Linz, Charles Lyon, Cody Massery, Ethan Massey, Patty McLean, Ronnie Milligan, Hal Mitchell, Steven G. Mlodinow, Devin Moon, David P. Muth, Joe Neal, Nancy L. Newfield, Kenny Nichols (Arkansas), LaDonna Nichols, David Oakley, Pooja Panwar, Jim Perkins, Mitchell Pruitt, David Ray, Larry R. Raymond, J.V. Remsen, Kathy Rhodes, Randy Robinson, Patricia Rosel, Lance Runion, Samantha Scheiman, Rosemary Seidler, Paul Shepard, Don Simons, Terry Stanfill, Butch Tetzlaff, Danny Townsend, Rhonda Townsend, Richard Vaerewyck, Natalie Waters, Jacob Wessels (JaW), Rod Wittenberg, Joe Woolbright (JoW), Lizette Wroten, Glenn Wyatt, Michelle Wyatt.

Waterfowl through Jaegers

Rare sea ducks in Arkansas this season included single Surf Scoters at Lake Monticello Dam, Drew 4 Nov (EM, RV); Lake Frierson State Park, Greene 7 Nov (JaW); Lake Dardanelle 11 Nov (KN) and a Long-tailed Duck 30 Nov at Mallard Lake, Craighead (RM). A Long-tailed Duck at a water treatment facility in Crowley, Acadia LA 3-6 Nov (PJB, OJ, RCD) was a good draw for YRARF participants, but unfortunately spawned an ugly trespassing incident later; no bird is worth breaking a law or risking a popular birding site. Another Long-tailed Duck at a secured facility in St. James, Convent LA 15-16 Nov (HC) was off-limits to birders. A Western Grebe at Lake Dardanelle 19 Oct–20 Nov (K&LN) was the season’s only report. Inca Dove is considered rare and local in Arkansas; reports from non-traditional locations included one to three at the Bunge Plant north of Arkansas City, Desha  20 Aug–9 Sep (DB, K&LN, m.ob.); two at Grider Field, Jefferson 11 Sep (DM); and one in Little Rock, Pulaski 25 Sep (BiH, SS). An Anna’s Hummingbird that remained to winter in Lafayette, Lafayette LA arrived on 17 Nov (ToG, EIJ). Rare but annual in Arkansas, Rufous Hummingbirds were well represented with four reports: one at Social Hill, Hot Spring 12 Aug (LH); one in Pangburn, White 13 Aug that was thought to be a return from the previous year (TB, JB); one west of Hot Springs, Montgomery 9 Oct (PS); and one in Little Rock, Pulaski 9 Nov (TC, m.ob.). A returning female Broad-billed Hummingbird banded the previous winter was recaptured in Houma, Terrebonne LA 28 Oct (NLN) and seen through the end of the period. A Piping Plover, spotted 17 Aug at BKNWR (K&LN, CM) was the only report of this endangered species.

Migrating “grasspipers” are a regular and welcome sight in the Arkansas River Valley. High counts of Upland Sandpiper (28) and Buff-breasted Sandpiper (47) occurred at a sod farm south of Alma, Crawford AR 17 & 24 Aug respectively (JN). Two immature Ruddy Turnstones were observed near Portland, Chicot AR 20 Aug (K&LN). BKNWR has hosted many rarities over the years, and this year was no exception: A Red Knot was photographed 9 & 15 Aug (TB, JB GW, MW); an adult Sanderling was observed 22 Aug, and a Willet was present 17 Aug (both K&LN); a Red-necked Phalarope was photographed 27–28 Aug (LR, BoH, DT, RT); and a Red Phalarope was present 28 Aug–1 Sep (K&LN). A Ruff near Thornwell, Jefferson Davis LA on 3 Nov (JH, EIJ) was another good YRARF find. A GOM pelagic trip out of Venice, Plaquemines LA 2 Sep came across an amazing total of 53 Red-necked Phalaropes (PEC, RCD, LRR, JVR); this almost tripled the total number of previously documented Louisiana individuals. Louisiana’s sixth Long-tailed Jaeger was also photographed on the 2 Sep GOM pelagic trip (PEC, HM, LRR).

Gulls through Flycatchers

Rare, local, and nearly annual in Arkansas, a Sabine’s Gull was observed on Lake Dardanelle 6 Sep (K&LN) and photographed the next day (ML); the species is less than annual in Louisiana, but Cross Lake, Caddo has produced multiple records; one was photographed there on 5 Sep (JD, CL). Rare in any season, a first-winter Laughing Gull was on Lake Dardanelle 16 Aug (K&LN). Rutherford Beach, Cameron LA produced both a “Thayer’s” Iceland Gull and a Great Black-backed Gull on 28 Oct (PEC, SGM). Notable Arkansas Least Tern reports were a good count of 40 at the Alma Wastewater Treatment Facility, Crawford 2 Aug (JN) and 206 at a commercial fish farm near Portland, Chicot 20 Aug (K&LN). A remarkable two Arctic Terns were found in Louisiana during the season: a juvenile on Cross Lake, Caddo on 5 Sep (JD, CL) was the first inland record for the state, while an adult on 23 Sep (PEC, DPM) was the highlight of an otherwise ordinary GOM pelagic trip. The perceived rarity of Cory’s and Audubon’s Shearwater in Louisiana is no doubt a product of limited ventures into pelagic waters; two Cory’s (PEC, RCD, LRR) and seven Audubon’s (PEC, RCD, LRR) were seen on the productive 2 Sep GOM pelagic out of Venice, Plaquemines. The season’s only Arkansas Wood Stork report was that of 2 birds near Portland, Chicot 20 Aug (K&LN). Neotropic Cormorant is rare but regular in Arkansas and appears to be on the increase. One bird was noted at Gentry, Benton 21 Aug (BT); another was near Portland, Chicot 20 Aug (K&LN); and five were observed 9 Sep near Arkansas City, Desha (ML, PM, RR, BoH, KH). Rare and difficult to find in Arkansas, three Tricolored Herons were photographed at Overflow NWR, Ashley 16 Sep (RT). A Black-crowned Night-Heron was unusually late 9 Nov at Bois d’Arc WMA, Hempstead AR (JP). Two immature Roseate Spoonbills north of Arkansas City, Desha 20 Aug (K&LN) were the season’s only Arkansas report. Rare but annual in Arkansas, a Swallow-tailed Kite at New Blaine 8 Aug (DS) was a first for Logan. Multiple Harris’s Hawks in Louisiana were a surprise: one was at Holly Beach, Cameron on 28 Oct (JF); one first reported on 26 November stayed for several weeks at a landfill near Welsh, Jefferson Davis (IF, m.ob.). Two White-tailed Hawks discovered on 8 Oct near Holmwood, Calcasieu (PEC) were in SW Louisiana where the species is becoming regular, but an adult found on Grand Isle, Jefferson on 13 Oct was a stunning first for SE Louisiana (KR); both remained for several months. A Northern Saw-whet Owl heard atop Magazine Mountain, Logan AR 20 Nov (DS) was a nice find of this rare and elusive species. Just the second occurrence for Arkansas, a Crested Caracara was photographed due west of Island 21, Mississippi 20 Sep (MG).

A Brown-crested Flycatcher documented at Chalmette, St. Bernard LA on 26 Nov (RS) may have been a returnee from the previous year. Both Tropical and Couch’s kingbirds turn up in low frequency in Louisiana; a cooperative Couch’s found near Holmwood, Calcasieu 27 Oct (SWC, DLD) stayed through the end of the season, while non-calling individuals that could only be identified to the level of “Tropical/Couch’s” kingbirds were photographed in Lafayette, Lafayette on 2 Sep (PR) and Port Fourchon, Lafourche 25 Oct (NW). A Fork-tailed Flycatcher on 5 Nov at Grand Isle State Park, Jefferson LA was an exciting find (JG). Rare transient Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were at Little Rock, Pulaski 6 Sep (RR) and Arkansas City, Desha 9 Sep (ML, PM). Rare but apparently increasing in Arkansas, a Say’s Phobe photographed southeast of Jonesboro 14 Nov (JaW) was a first for Craighead; another at Chesney Prairie Natural Area 19 Nov (JoW) was the fifth for Benton. Vermilion Flycatcher is a rare and less than annual Arkansas visitor, occuring chiefly during fall and winter. One photographed at Craig State Fish Hatchery, Centerton 30 Sep (KG) was a first for Benton, and an immature female photographed 7 Oct at Bearitage Farms near Whitehall (ASU Bio Blitz) was a first for Cross.

Vireos through Dickcissel

Rare so late, two Blue-headed Vireos were observed 19 Nov at Ninestone Land Trust, Carrol AR (VGK, PP, AD). A Gray Catbird at Dardanelle, Yell 24 Nov (K&LN) was late. Red Crossbills staged somewhat of an invasion over the northwest corner of Arkansas. Up to five were counted near Shores Lake, Franklin 11 Sep (JN, DO); four were seen visiting a feeder in Harrison, Boone 3 Oct (AG, TG); eight were at the Fayetteville Country Club, Washington 23 Nov (JN); and a large flock of 30 at McIlroy Madison WMA, Madison 29 Nov (MP, JN, PP) were recorded to determine call type. Analysis later determined them to be Call Type 2. Rare but regular in Arkansas, transient Clay-colored Sparrows were found visiting a backyard in Cabot, Lonoke 11 Oct (K&LN); Chesney Prairie Natural Area, Benton 12 Oct (ADR); and two were photographed at Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington 29 Oct (VK). A Savannah Sparrow photographed 11 Sep at BKNWR (GW) was the earliest ever. A Nelson’s Sparrow at Chesney Prairie, Benton 12 Oct (ADR) was the season’s only Arkansas report of this rare and difficult-to-find species. Rare but annual in Louisiana, Bullock’s Orioles were noted in Harahan, Jefferson on 7 Nov (LW) and in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge on 18 Nov (OJ).  A Great-tailed Grackle at a truck stop in Benton 27 Nov (K&LN) was a first for Saline AR and further documentation of this species’ range expansion as it leapfrogs its way north and east via truck stops along the I-30 corridor. An Orange-crowned Warbler photographed near Gentry, Benton AR 25 Aug (TS) was earliest ever by nearly two weeks. An “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler in Lake Charles, Calcasieu LA on 20 Nov was presumably a returning bird from the previous winter (CC). A Townsend’s Warbler was at City Park, New Orleans, Orleans LA on 26 Sep (JG). A Scarlet Tanager near Flippin, Marion AR 22 Nov (JJ, SJ) was latest ever by nearly two weeks. An unusually late Dickcissel was photographed 5 Nov at Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton (RW).

Report processed by Randi Minetor, 19 Feb 2021.