Waterfowl through Hummingbirds
Two Cackling Geese at BKNWR 16 Oct were earliest on record (GW). Rare but now nearly annual in Arkansas, a Tundra Swan was observed at a farm pond in southeastern Cleburne 19 Nov (RR). Rare so late, three Blue-winged Teal were at Treadway’s Minnow Farms, Prairie AR 7 Nov (K&LN). Rare sea ducks were well-represented this fall with numerous reports. Lone Surf Scoters were spotted at the AWTF 31 Oct (JN) and Harry Saul’s Minnow Farms, DeValls Bluff, Prairie 7 Nov (K&LN); two were at Lake Monticello, Drew AR 23 Nov (KC, GW, MW). Two White-winged Scoters at Norfork Lake 8 Oct (GG) were a first for Baxter AR; a single was at Craighead Forest Park, Craighead AR 22 Oct (RR, JWe, JY), separate singles were photographed at Cameron, Cameron LA 10 Nov (PEC), and another single was there on 18 Nov (PEC). Black Scoters invaded Arkansas in unprecedented numbers: numerous sightings of multiple birds at Lake Monticello, Drew in late November finally yielded a high count of 15 on 24 Nov (ML, PM, KaC, m.ob.); two were at the AWTF 26 Nov (CC); a single at Lake Fayetteville, Washington 7 Nov was just the second for northwest Arkansas (JN, MM). Black Scoters were also widespread throughout Louisiana during the season, with notables at Cross Lake, Shreveport, Caddo 13 Nov (CL), Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge 16 Nov (MLB), and Monroe, Ouachita 16 Nov (CN), and a coastal high count of 33 birds at Rutherford Beach, Cameron 21 Nov (PEC). A Long-tailed Duck at the AWTF 20 Nov (LC) was the season’s only report. A Common Merganser at Crowley’s Ridge SP 14 Nov was just the second for Greene AR (KF).
There were two Arkansas reports of out of range Inca Doves: one near Searcy, White 2 Nov (HM); and one photographed near Lead Hill 21 Oct was a first for Marion (HR, SR). Very rare in any season in Arkansas, a Common Ground-Dove photographed 2 Aug near Waldron (RG) was a first for Scott. Just the third for Boone AR, a White-winged Dove was identified at Harrison 23 Sep (JH, SH). Rare transient Black-billed Cuckoos were at St. Francis River WMA, Poinsett AR 14 Sep (JM) and rural Woodruff AR at Bayou DeView on the late date of 22 Oct (AM, DD). Three Common Nighthawks were photographed at Pine Bluff, Jefferson AR on the very late date of 27 Nov (GW). Typically notably tardy by early November, a group of 35 Chimney Swifts in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge LA 12 Nov dwindled to 20 by 20 Nov, 15 by 23 Nov, and a single bird on 26 Nov (m.ob). Much rarer but overshadowed by the lingering Chimney Swifts, at least 6 Vaux’s Swifts were at the same location (CR). Annual but rare, a Broad-billed Hummingbird was in Gramercy, St James LA beginning 27 Nov (banded; NLN).
Cranes through Shorebirds
Sandhill Cranes are rare transients and rare and local winter residents in Arkansas. With no previous August records, it is unclear what to make of two birds at St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA, Craighead on 14 Aug (JM). A female Whooping Crane from the Louisiana reintroduction campaign was present south of Roe, Monroe AR 10 Nov–6 Dec (KR). The four American Avocets at Heber Springs 14 Oct were just the second record for Cleburne (KNa); elsewhere, good counts of 25 and 35 were made at Anderson’s Minnow Farms, Lonoke AR 7 Nov (K&LN) and the AWTF 11 Oct, respectively (JN, DO). Rare shorebirds reported this season in Arkansas included: a Piping Plover at Anderson’s Minnow Farms, Lonoke 9 Aug (K&LN); a single Marbled Godwit at BKNWR 5 Sep (K&LN) and two at Camp Nine, Desha 22 Aug (DB); two Ruddy Turnstones at Anderson’s Minnow Farms, Lonoke 9 Aug, one at BKNWR 15 Aug (both K&LN) and one at West-Ark Sod Farms, Crawford 16 Aug (JN). Very rare in Arkansas in fall, a juvenile Red Knot was photographed at Saul’s Fish Farms, southeast of Hickory Plains, Prairie 18-21 Sep (K&LN). There were three Arkansas Sanderling reports: one at Brundridge Farms, Miller 12 Aug (K&LN, CL); three adults at BKNWR 15 Aug, and a juvenile at the same location 7 Sep (both K&LN). Eighty Western Sandpipers were carefully counted at Anderson’s Minnow Farms, Lonoke 2 Sep (K&LN). This is an exceptional count of this species. Of the multiple Arkansas Willet reports, most notable were a count of 11 at Brundridge Farms, Miller 12 Aug (K&LN, CL), and a single photographed at William Donham State Fish Hatchery 4 Sep that was a first for Clay (KF). Rare but annual in Arkansas, Red-necked Phalaropes were found at two locations: a single photographed at BKNWR 27 Aug (BH), and one photographed at Boyd Point WTP, Jefferson 28 Aug (ML). Also at Boyd Point, and just the 15th for the state, was a Red Phalarope photographed 14 Aug (DT, RT).
Gulls through Hawks
Also just the 15th for Arkansas and a first for Perry, a Black-legged Kittiwake was photographed at Toad Suck Park 25 Nov (ML, PM). The season’s only Laughing Gull report for Arkansas was that of an adult near Delaware Rec Area on Lake Dardanelle 17 Aug (K&LN). A spectacular find was Louisiana’s second Western Gull, a second-year bird at Cross Lake, Shreveport, Caddo 12 Sep (CL). Louisiana’s only report of California Gull was in Cameron 1 Nov (PEC). An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at BKNWR 19 Aug was the earliest ever and a first for White; an adult at Dardanelle Lock & Dam, Yell 22 Sep was about three weeks early (both K&LN). A first-winter Glaucous Gull photographed in Cameron, Cameron LA 21 October and reportedly found several days before was exceptionally early (PEC). A pelagic trip out of Venice, Plaquemines LA 15 Sep produced a Great Shearwater (DeB, JuB), while a trip from the same location 22 Sep yielded four Cory’s Shearwaters and a Great Shearwater (PEC, EIJ, CR). A Neotropic Cormorant at SWEPCO Lake, Benton 4 Aug was the season’s only Arkansas report (JN, TS). This species is now annual at this location. Perhaps just a very early migrant, an American Bittern at Frog Bayou WMA, Crawford AR 10 Aug (JN) was just the second occurrence during the month of August. Rare in fall in Arkansas, an immature Tricolored Heron photographed at Black River WMA 7 Aug (TJ) was a first for Clay; another immature was identified at Brundridge Farms, Miller 12 Aug (K&LN, CL). The 15 White Ibises observed near Selma 6 Nov (GH) were not only very late but a surprising first for Drew AR; four south of Walnut Ridge 5 Sep were a first for Lawrence AR (JM). A White-faced Ibis photographed at Craig Fish Hatchery, Benton 21 Sep (KG, JB) was the season’s only Arkansas report of this rare but annual visitor. Rare but now annual in fall in Arkansas, Roseate Spoonbills were reported from BKNWR 18 Aug (1 bird) and 7 Sep (4 immatures) (both K&LN); near Magnolia, Columbia 26 Oct (DM, JG); and two near Alma, Crawford 26 Aug provided not just a first for the county but for the northwest corner of the state (JN, BB).
Once very rare in Arkansas, Swallow-tailed Kite sightings continue to increase with each passing year. This season was no different with three sightings—all county firsts: one at Frog Bayou WMA, Crawford 31 Aug–2 Sep (BB, JN, DO); one photographed southeast of Corning, Clay 3–5 Sep (TJ, KF); and one at St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA, Poinsett 14 Sep (JM). A juvenile Golden Eagle at Ninestone Land Trust, Carroll 16 Nov (JAG) was the only report of this rare but regular visitor for Arkansas; Louisiana’s only record for the season was a juvenile beautifully photographed in Mansfield, Red River 21 Oct (CMe). A Harris’s Hawk in an urban setting in New Orleans, Orleans LA 22 Oct-28 Nov was of uncertain origin (JWB, GO). An impressive 500 Broad-winged Hawks were counted soaring over Mt. Nebo, Yell 29 Sep (CP). A Ferruginous Hawk was near Lacassine NWR, Cameron LA 27 October (SWC, DLD).
Owls through Tanagers
A Northern Saw-whet Owl at Ozark Natural Science Center, Madison AR 28 Nov (SD) was somewhat unusual as it was sighted rather than captured in a mist net. Once very rarely encountered, dedicated banding efforts at this location have proved the species to be a rare winter resident. A very early Merlin was spotted near Star City, Lincoln AR 21 Aug (CF, DotB, DorB). Both Arkansas Peregrine Falcon reports came from state fish hatcheries: one at Hulsey State Fish Hatchery, Hot Springs, Garland 21 Aug (PF) and one at Craig State Fish Hatchery in Centerton, Benton 5 Oct (JN). Lingering Western Kingbirds in Little Rock, Pulaski AR resulted in multiple first November records for the state, with the last sighting 9 Nov (CF). Arkansas Cave Swallow sightings continue to increase, most notably in the southwest corner of the state. Interesting was a high count of 8 at Beard’s Lake Rec Area, Millwood Lake, Hempstead 8 Sep (CM). Excellent numbers of migrating Sedge Wrens (16) and Marsh Wrens (11) were counted at Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington AR 7 Oct (VGK, ADR). Rare, local and declining, a Bewick’s Wren was observed near Alma, Crawford AR 17 Oct (SB). A Sage Thrasher was a nice surprise in New Orleans, Orleans 10 Nov (PY). Four Red Crossbills observed near Shores Lake Rec Area, Ozark NF, Franklin AR 16 Oct (JN, PP, AD, DO) were thought to have nested locally. Recordings found them to be of Call Types 2 & 4. Rare so far east, a Clay-colored Sparrow in West Memphis 29 Sep (KM) was just the third for Crittenden AR. Quite rare in fall in Arkansas, particularly in the eastern half of the state, a Yellow-headed Blackbird was carefully identified north of Marked Tree, Poinsett 28 Sep (IG).
A late Ovenbird was closely observed at Village Creek SP, Cross AR 28 Oct (JWe). A Cape May Warbler photographed while foraging in a cypress tree in DeWitt City Park, Arkansas 19 Oct provided just the 12th fall record for Arkansas (GH). A “Mangrove” Yellow Warbler, presumably the same individual recorded the previous winter, was at Grand Isle, Jefferson LA 28 Oct (JG). A Chestnut-sided Warbler with an apparent leg injury was about two weeks late at Jonesboro, Craighead AR 27 Oct (JWe). The first documented fall sighting of a Blackpoll Warbler was a bird photographed at Arkansas State University, Craighead 24 Sep (JWe). A Western Tanager at Judsonia, White 18 Sep (JWi, NP) was just the 12th for Arkansas.
Report processed by Randi Minetor, 9 Feb 2021.