Arkansas & Louisiana: Winter 2016-17

Winter 2016-17: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Paul Conover (LA)

Kenny Nichols (AR)

Recommended citation:

Conover, P., and Nichols, K. 2021. Winter 2016-17: Arkansas & Louisiana. <> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights include Black Scoter, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, and Chestnut-collared Longspur.

Weather across the region was typical with the exception of an early January freeze that extended as far south as the Gulf for >24 hours. 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).

Contributors: (subregional editors in boldface):

Leif Anderson, Dick Baxter, Stacey Benson, Than Boves, Dottie Boyles (DotB), Bill Burnham, Emma Burson, Katie Chapman (KaC), Kelly Chitwood, Paul E. Conover (Louisiana), Kay Dillard, Robert C. Dobbs, Rob Doster, Cindy Franklin, Karen Garrett, Joan M. Garvey, Sally Jo Gibson, Mark Greene, Judith Ann Griffith, Mike Harris, Dave Holdermann, Karen Holiday, James Holmes Jr., Ann Honeycutt, Judy Hunt, Erik I. Johnson, Herb Jordan, Janice Jordan, Chris Kellner, Joe Krystofik, Laura Lea, Michael Linz, Stephen M. Locke, Charles Lyon, Glenn Manning, Mary Mehaffey, Charles Mills, Michael J. Musumeche, B. Mac Myers III, Kenny Nations (KNa), Joe Neal, Nancy L. Newfield, Kenny Nichols (Arkansas), LaDonna Nichols, Dave Patton, Leslie Peacock, Syeve Picou, Jelmer Poelstra, J. Van Remsen, Janine Robin (Jro), Joan Reynolds, Randy Robinson, Patricia Rosel, Lance Runion, Rosemary Seidler (RSe), Cliff Shackelford, Terry Singleterry, Roy Stout (RSt), Jeremy Tenhaken (JerT), Brad Townsend, Danny Townsend, Rhonda Townsend, Jean Trahan (JeaT), Jeff Trahan (JefT), Phillip A. Wallace, Becky Wheeler, Jane Wiewora, Rod Wittenberg, Sarah Wittenberg, Glenn Wyatt, Michelle Wyatt

Abbreviations: County and parish names are italicized. Identifying state abbreviations are used in the accounts only in the first mention of a place/county/parish name unless confusion is otherwise unavoidable, and in regard to the following locations: Lake Dardanelle (Lake Dardanelle, Yell, AR), Bundrick Farms (Bundrick Farms, Lafayette, AR), Nichols Fish Farms (Nichols Fish Farms, Lafayette, AR), Millwood Lake (Millwood Lake, Hempstead, AR).

Whistling-Duck through Ibis

Very rare in Arkansas in winter, 14 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were counted at Judsonia, White 27 Dec (JW). An exceptional count of 9615 Greater White-fronted Geese was made at Bundrick Farms, Lafayette 7 Dec (CL, JefT & JeaT). In recent decades, Canada Goose has been known almost exclusively as a feral/introduced species in Louisiana; a Canada Goose with wild geese near Lacassane Lodge, Cameron on 16 Dec (PAW) may have been a legitimately wild bird or a drifter from the feral flock at nearby Lake Arthur. Just the tenth occurrence for the state, a Mute Swan was at Magness Lake, Cleburne, AR 28 Jan (LR). Rare but almost annual, two Tundra Swans were observed near Wilburn, Cleburne 1 Jan (DT, RT). A Tundra Swan observed by many at Cameron Prairie NWR, Cameron, LA 14-29 Dec was Louisiana’s first since 2002. Very rare in winter, two Blue-winged Teal were at Bundrick Farms, Lafayette 11 Jan (CL). Possibly the highest count ever for the state, 14,000 Green-winged Teal were tallied at Bundrick Farms, Lafayette 21 Dec (CL). A White-winged Scoter was at Holly Beach, Cameron, LA on 3-28 Jan (PEC), while rare winter sea ducks in Arkansas included a White-winged Scoter at Beaver Lake, Benton 5–6 Feb (RW, SW, JN, JR, KG); a Black Scoter on the Lonoke CBC, near Pettus, Lonoke 28 Dec (K&LN); and Long-tailed Ducks at Cabin Creek Rec Area, Johnson 1 Jan (LA) and two on Beaver Lake, Benton 9 Feb (JN). Long-tailed Duck, not seen every year in Louisiana, was also well represented by several sightings during the period: one at Holly Beach, Cameron on 18 Dec (BMM III); a different individual also at Holly Beach 15 Jan (PEC, DP); one 28 Jan-5 Feb at Rutherford Beach, Cameron (PEC).

There were four Common Merganser reports for Arkansas for the season: singles at Lake Maumelle, Pulaski 5 Feb (LR, DotB, KH) and Pine Bluff, Jefferson 27 Dec (RD); five on Lake Dardanelle, Yell 21 Dec (K&LN) and an amazing 15 at Magness Lake, Cleburne 2 Feb (KNa). Very uncommon in Arkansas in winter, two Red-breasted Mergansers were at Benton, Saline 24 Jan (D&RT); three were at Millwood Lake, Hempstead 17 Feb (CL, JeaT, RSe); and six were at Lake Saracen, Jefferson 27 Dec (RD). Rare mid-winter grebes for Arkansas included single Eared Grebes at Lonoke, Lonoke 18 Dec (CF, BB, LP, BW) and Lake Dardanelle, Johnson 1 Jan (LA); two Western Grebes on Beaver Lake, Benton 21 Dec (JN), and a single on Lake Dardanelle, Yell 10 Dec (K&LN). Quite rare in Arkansas in winter, six Cattle Egrets were spotted at Felsenthal, Union 18 Dec (KC, EB); a lone bird was at Nichols Fish Farms, Lafayette 7 Dec (CL, JeaT, JefT). Very rare in Arkansas in winter and perhaps just the second February occurrence, a Green Heron was at Bois d’Arc WMA, Hempstead 25 Feb (JefT). Very rare in winter and one of the highest counts ever for the state, an amazing 57 Black-crowned Night-Herons were counted at Nichols Fish Farms, Lafayette (CL). The 98 White Ibis at Queens Plantation, Miller, AR 1 Feb (CL) were a good count of this very uncommon winter visitor. Thirty-eight White-faced Ibis at Bundrick Farms, Lafayette 21 Dec (CL) was the first December record since 2008. Wood Storks are rare in Louisiana in winter; one was in Covington, St. Tammany, 10-12 Jan (JMG, MM).

Osprey through Hummingbirds

Very uncommon in Arkansas in winter, single Ospreys were spotted at Lonoke, Lonoke 13 Dec and Maumelle, Pulaski 3 Jan (both CF & BB). There were three Rough-legged Hawk reports for the season in Arkansas: one near Forrest City, St. Francis 1 Jan (MG); one near Harrisburg, Craighead 11 Feb (ML, RR); and what was most likely a returning bird on the White/Jackson line near Possum Grape 27 Dec–29 Jan (GW, MW, LR). Rare but annual in Arkansas, two Golden Eagles were photographed in rural Madison 10 Dec (JJ, HJ); another was seen near Eureka Springs, Carroll 4 Feb (KaC). Rails are rare, local and often overlooked in winter in Arkansas. A single Virginia Rail was sighted near Peckerwood Lake, Prairie 24 Jan (CF, BB); two were east of Pine Bluff, Jefferson 29 Dec (RD, GM, JH); and two were heard near Knoxville, Johnson 1 Jan (LA). Two Soras responded to a tape on the Bayou DeView CBC, Monroe 16 Dec (LA, TS) and two responded to playback near Knoxville, Johnson 1 Jan (LA). Overwintering Common Gallinules are only a recent event in Arkansas; 17 were counted at Bois d’Arc WMA, Hempstead 5 Jan (D&RT). A Black Rail was flushed on a nighttime rail survey at Broussard Beach, Cameron, LA 15 Feb (EIJ). Of the season’s numerous Arkansas Sandhill Crane reports, most impressive was an incredible 576 counted in eastern Miller, 25 Feb (CM). Rare so late and a good count, 24 American Avocets were at Nichols Fish Farms, Lafayette 7 Dec (CL, JeaT, JefT); a single at Camp Nine Farms, Desha, AR 2 Jan (DB) was perhaps just the second ever for January. Rare winter shorebirds for Arkansas included lone Spotted Sandpipers at Pine Bluff, Jefferson 24 Feb (D&RT, SB) and Blue Mt. Lake, Logan 31 Dec (LA); 19 Dunlin at Bundrick Farms, Lafayette 11 Jan (CL, JefT, JeaT) and two at Blue Mt. Lake, Logan along with a Western Sandpiper (LA); and an impressive 1868 Long-billed Dowitchers at Camp Nine Farms, Desha 24 Jan (DB). A breeding plumaged Franklin’s Gull identified on Beaver Lake, Benton 7 Jan (JN, JR) was a rare mid-winter sighting. There were two Rufous Hummingbird reports for Arkansas: an adult male returning for a third consecutive winter at a residence in Little Rock, Pulaski 17 & 27 Dec (KH, AH, LL, LR, RSt) and a female near Harrison, Boone 17 Dec–10 Jan (SJG). A Broad-billed Hummingbird banded at Bayou L’Ourse, Assumption, LA on 4 Feb (SML,NLN) was reportedly present beginning the previous November.

Falcons through Finches

Single Peregrine Falcons were noted near England, Lonoke 16 Dec (CL) and Dardanelle Lock & Dam, Pope 24 Dec (K&LN). Very rare in Arkansas in any season, a Vermilion Flycatcher was found near England, Lonoke 16 Dec (CL). Great Kiskadee has recently established a minor foothold in Louisiana; one was near Lydia, Iberia on 16 Feb (MJM). A Couch’s Kingbird was present 2 Dec–4 Mar at Fontainebleau State Park, St. Tammany, LA (JRo, m.ob), and a Brown-crested Flycatcher was at a recent hotspot for the species at Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, St. Bernard, LA 5 Jan (RCD). A Western Kingbird near Beullah, Prairie 16 Dec (CK, JK) was the first ever winter occurrence for Arkansas. A White-eyed Vireo photographed at Sulphur River WMA, Miller on 3 Feb (CL, RSe) was the only report of the season for Arkansas. A pair of Cave Swallows at Texarkana Regional Airport, Miller 15 Dec (CS, DH, MH, BT) represents a first for the winter season. Rare, local and declining, lone Bewick’s Wrens were found in Arkansas near Piney Bay, Johnson 1 Jan (ML); east of Arkadelphia, Clark 17 Dec and near Blue Mt. Lake, Logan 31 Dec (both LA). Rare in winter, Gray Catbirds were spotted at Felsenthal NWR, Union 29 Dec and Blue Mt. Lake, Logan 31 Dec (both LA).

Single Magnolia Warblers photographed at Grand Isle Jefferson, LA on 21 Dec (EIJ) and Buras, Plaquemines 3 Jan (JH) were nice finds. Suspected hybrids between Tropical Parula and Northern Parula have shown up on several occasions in Louisiana; a Tropical Parula-like warbler at Lafayette, Lafayette 22 Jan-5 Mar (PR) showed white feathering around the eyes that indicated Northern Parula somewhere in its lineage. There were three Arkansas Palm Warbler reports for the season: one at Felsenthal NWR, Union 29 Dec; one at Holla Bend NWR, Pope 4 Jan (both LA); and four photographed near Jonesboro, Craighead 26 Jan (TB). A Spotted Towhee at Felsenthal NWR 29 Dec (LA) was a first for Union. Louisiana’s 10th accepted Chestnut-collared Longspur was audio-recorded at Gilliam Airport, Caddo 27 Dec (JP). Rare winter sparrow sightings for Arkansas included three American Tree Sparrows east of Arkadelphia, Clark 17 Dec (LA); single Lark Sparrows at Pine Bluff, Jefferson 29 Dec (RD, GM, JH) and Blue Mt. Lake, Logan 31 Dec (LA); a Henslow’s Sparrow at Warren Prairie Natural Area, Bradley 10 Dec (CL, JeaT, JefT, RSe); a Lincoln’s Sparrow near Knoxville, Johnson 31 Dec (K&LN); and Harris’s Sparrows in rural Little River 30 Dec, Millwood Lake, Howard 9 Dec (both CL, JefT, JeaT) and Felsenthal NWR, Union 29 Dec (LA). Rare but regular in winter, an alternate plumaged male Summer Tanager was in Fayetteville, Washington, AR 13 Jan (JN, JerT) and an adult female was in Little Rock, Pulaski 16 Dec (KD). A male Shiny Cowbird was well-photographed in Venice, Plaquemines, LA 18 Feb (JVR). An adult male Bullock’s Oriole in New Orleans, Orleans, LA on 21-23 December was likely a returning bird from the previous winter (SP). A Dickcissel at Bayou Meto WMA, Jefferson 18 Feb (RT) was the only report of this very rare winter visitor for Arkansas. An impressive 50 Purple Finches were observed visiting a feeder 6 Jan at Ninestone Land Trust, Carroll, AR (JAG).

Report processed by Randi Minetor, 12 Feb 2021.