Arkansas-Louisiana: Winter 2018–2019

Winter 2018–2019: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Paul Conover, Louisiana

Kenny Nichols, Arkansas

Recommended citation:

Conover, P. and K. Nichols. 2021. Winter 2018–2019: Arkansas-Louisiana. <> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights include Hudsonian Godwit, Long-eared Owl, Crested Caracara, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, and Gray-headed Junco.

Observers (subregional editors in boldface) 

Leif Anderson, David Booth (DaB), Robert Boyd, Dottie Boyles (DotB), Chuck Broussard, Ellen Carpenter, Candace Casey, Lynn  Christie, Paul E. Conover (Louisiana), Jim Delahoussaye, Robert C. Dobbs, Rob Doster, Todd Fitzgerald, Brent Franklin, Kent Freeman, Anthony French, Bob Harden, Gabrielle Hargrove, Ron Hoff, Bill Holimon (BiH), Kevin Krajcir, Vivek Govind Kumar, Daniel F. Lane, Ed Laster, Joseph Ledvina, Michael Linz, Irvin Louque, Dustin Lynch, Glenn Manning, Cody Massery (CMa), Patty McLean, Michelle McLindon, Joseph McPhail, Charles Mills (CMi), Brad Moon, Devin Moon, Rose Must, Dollyann Myers, Kenny Nations (KNa), Joe Neal, Nancy L. Newfield, Kellie Nichols (KelN), Kenny Nichols (Arkansas), LaDonna Nichols, Mark Nolen, Ken Oeser, Araks Ohanyan, Kathleen O’Shaughnessy (KO’S), Jim Perkins, Rhett Raibley (RhR),  James Van Remsen, Eric Ripma, Randy Robinson (RaR), Lance Runion, Samantha Scheiman, Inga Schmidt, Vicki Sensat, Diana Soteropoulos, Butch Tetzlaff, Phillip A. Wallace, Jacob Wessels, Paul Yakupzack.

Whistling-Ducks through Hummingbirds

A first for February, and a high count in any season, 67 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were at Friendly Acres Park, Judsonia, White, AR 8 Feb (K&LN). The 25 Tundra Swans counted among 44 Trumpeter Swans south of Atkins, Pope 13 Jan (K&LN, LR) were, by far, the most ever counted in Arkansas. Quite rare in winter in Arkansas, two Blue-winged Teal were observed during the Pine Bluff Christmas Bird Count at Boyd Point Wastewater Treatment Facility, Pine Bluff, Jefferson 31 Dec (RD, GM, GH). An impressive 229 Canvasbacks were counted on Lake Maumelle, Pulaski, AR 20 Jan (LR). Rare in winter in Arkansas, lone Surf Scoters were observed at Lake Wilhelmina, Polk 11 Dec (BF, TF), and Heber Springs, Cleburne 13 Feb (KNa); there were as many as two at Lake Maumelle, Pulaski 30 Dec–9 Jan (LR, PM, ML, DotB, EL, K&LN). There were only two reports of White-winged Scoter in Louisiana this season: two were at Rutherford Beach, Cameron 23 Dec (PEC), and another was more interesting inland at Spanish Lake, Iberia 9–11 Feb (RCD, ER). A Black Scoter at Lake Maumelle 29 Dec and 6 Jan (MN, LR) was the only Arkansas report of this rare sea duck for the season. Rare in winter, single Long-tailed Ducks were found in Arkansas near Hickory Plains, Prairie 11 Dec (K&LN); Beaver Lake, Benton 13 Jan (JN, JR); and Heber Springs, Cleburne 13 Feb (KNa). In Arkansas, single Common Mergansers were sighted at Big Lake WMA, Mississippi 3 Jan (RhR, JW); Hulsey Fish Hatchery, Garland 29 Dec (LA, EC); Crowley’s Ridge SP, Greene 2 Dec (JW, RhR, JM); Dardanelle Lock and Dam 10 Dec (K&LN); and Delaware Bay, Logan, where there were three 1 Jan (K&LN). There were several Arkansas Red-breasted Merganser reports, with the most interesting being that of a group of 16 individuals on Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner 7 Dec (ML, PM). 

A Western Grebe at Cabin Creek Recreation Area on Lake Dardanelle, Johnson, AR 1 Jan (LA) was the season’s only report of this rare winter visitor. Out-of-range Arkansas Inca Dove reports included two in Pine Bluff, Jefferson 31 Dec (RD, GM), and one photographed at feeders west of Dardanelle, Yell 3 Jan (K&LN). A first for Hempstead, AR, two White-winged Doves were photographed in Hope 10 Feb (DM). Louisiana Broad-billed Hummingbird reports included those of a continuing bird at Gramercy, St James through 10 Jan (banded NLN), and another in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge 10–16 Feb (MH, banded NLN). Reports of Broad-billed Hummingbird have increased in recent years, but it is uncertain whether this increase reflects a change in status or coverage.

Rails through Falcons

Locally rare in winter in Arkansas, Virgina Rails were found at Pine Bluff, Jefferson 31 Dec; Lake Dardanelle, Johnson 1 Jan; near Brinkley, Monroe 2 Jan; and Big Lake NWR, Mississippi 3 Jan (all LA). Very rare in winter in Arkansas, especially so far north, a Sora was heard and seen at Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington 3 Feb (VGK). Locally very rare in winter in Arkansas, nine Common Gallinules were found at Bois d’Arc WMA, Hempstead 10 Feb (DM). Louisiana’s Limpkin story continued to intrigue as a third location for the species was discovered at North Turtle Bayou, Terrebonne 13 Feb (PY); first discovered in the state in Dec 2017, the species was soon reported breeding—and the supply of habitat and apple snails seems limitless. Rare but increasing in Arkansas, Sandhill Cranes were reported from three locations: one south of Paris, Logan 3 Dec (K&LN); six at Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas 15 Dec (GH); and two flyovers south of Atkins, Pope 12 Jan (K&LN). Louisiana’s first winter record of Hudsonian Godwit was near Welsh, Jefferson Davis LA 3–26 Jan (ER, m.ob.). 

There were three Iceland Gull reports for Louisiana, near Welsh, Jefferson Davis 9 Dec, and near Egan, Acadia 6–13 Jan and 25 Feb (all PEC). Forster’s Terns are very rare in winter in Arkansas anywhere outside the southern quarter of the state. One was seen on the Lake Dardanelle Christmas Bird Count near Cabin Creek Recreation Area, Johnson 1 Jan (LA), while another was at Lake Conway, Faulkner 7 Feb (K&LN). Rare but now nearly annual in Arkansas, a Pacific Loon was on Lake Hamilton, Garland 29 Dec (LA, EC). Very rare in winter in Arkansas, two Black-crowned Night-Herons were discovered on the St. Francis NF, Phillips 20 Dec (LA). The 300 White Ibis counted in northern Miller 1 Feb (RB, JP) represent one of the highest counts ever for Arkansas. Most of these birds were adults. 

Rare in winter in Arkansas, especially so far north, an Osprey was near Cabin Creek Recreation Area, Lake Dardanelle, Johnson 1 Jan (LA). Single Golden Eagles were at McCrory, Woodruff 16 Dec (DS, JL); near Calico Rock, Baxter, AR 21 Dec (LA); and Holla Bend NWR, Pope, AR 20 Jan (CMa). A Harris’s Hawk was near Sulphur, Calcasieu, LA 7 Jan (VS), and an adult White-tailed Hawk was documented in Cameron and Calcasieu, LA 16 Dec–10 Jan (JD, BM, JVR, PAW). A roadkilled Long-eared Owl found 8 Jan just west of the MO/AR bridge over the St. Francis River, Clay, was the first occurrence for Arkansas since 2011 (KF). A Crested Caracara photographed in Texarkana, Miller 23 Dec (IS) represents just the third occurrence for Arkansas. Rare in winter in Arkansas, a Peregrine Falcon was in eastern Miller 18 Feb (CMi). Very rare in winter, Prairie Falcon sightings this season include a bird photographed in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope, AR 8 Jan (CC) and one observed in eastern Miller, AR 18 Feb (CMi). 

Flycatcher through Dickcissel

It was a great season for rare and out-of-season flycatchers. A Tropical/Couch’s kingbird was near Welsh, Jefferson Davis, LA 28 Jan (KO). An amazing three Fork-tailed Flycatchers were reported in Calcasieu, two together near Sweet Lake 17 Dec–11 Jan (IL, m.ob.), and a single near Vinton 12–27 Jan (DaB, m.ob.); despite the dovetailing dates, photo analysis revealed different birds were involved in the two sightings. Louisiana’s third-ever Gray Flycatcher was at Diamond, Plaquemines 26 Jan–10 Feb (MM, JVR, m.ob.). A very cooperative Say’s Phoebe south of Atkins 3 Feb was the second for Pope, AR (BoH, LC). Rare and now nearly annual, a Vermilion Flycatcher east of Colt 22 Dec was a first for St. Francis, AR (BoH, AF). 

Rare in winter in Arkansas, Blue-headed Vireos were found on three different Christmas Bird Counts: one on the Pine Bluff CBC, Jefferson 31 Dec (K&LN); one on the Big Lake CBC, Mississippi 3 Jan (LA); and an impressive four were on the Lake Georgia Pacific/Felsenthal CBC, Union 28 Dec (LA). A Brown-headed Nuthatch on the Ozark NF, south of Calico Rock 21 Dec, was a first for Baxter and now represents the northeast limit of this species’ range in Arkansas (LA). Very rare in winter, a Rock Wren atop Pinnacle Mountain, Pulaski 5 Jan (KelN) was the first sighting in Arkansas since 2013. There were a surprising four Blue-gray Gnatcatcher sightings for the season in Arkansas: at Bald Knob NWR, White 15 Dec (RH, DM); near Turner, Monroe 19 Dec (RhR, KK); north of Pine Bluff, Jefferson 31 Dec (K&LN); and south of Knoxville, Johnson 1 Jan (LA). A Gray Catbird discovered on the Holla Bend CBC, Pope 4 Jan (LA) was the season’s only report of this rare winter resident in Arkansas. A poor irruption year yielded just one Red Crossbill report: a flyover at Hector, Pope 2 Feb (LA). 

Rare and very local in Arkansas, Smith’s Longspurs were found at their usual haunts: four at the Stuttgart Airport, Prairie 26 Dec (ML, PM), and 30 at the Newport Airport, Jackson 15 Jan (RhR). Spotted Towhees were well represented in Arkansas with three reports this season: singles in Bentonville, Benton 16 Dec (BT); western Pulaski 19 Jan (RaR); and Little Rock, Pulaski 23 Feb (DS). Louisiana hosted single Spotted Towhees at Pecan Island, Vermilion 12 Jan (PEC, PAW) and Lafayette, Lafayette 10–11 Feb (CB, KO’S), as well as two at Grand Chenier, Cameron 21–25 Jan (PEC, PAW). This species is a rare but regular winter resident in Arkansas, and rare and seemingly irregular in Louisiana. A “Gray-headed” Dark-eyed Junco at Hobbs SP, Benton 23 Dec (JN, JR) was just the third for Arkansas, and undoubtedly the same bird that wintered at this location last year. 

Very rare in winter in Arkansas, an adult male Yellow-headed Blackbird photographed at a camera trap south of Blackwell, Conway 19 Feb (AO) now represents just the second February occurrence on file. A Bullock’s Oriole was at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA 29 Dec–19 Feb (RM). A well-described Nashville Warbler in Little Rock, Pulaski 17 Dec (SS, BiH, DL) was just the third-ever December occurrence for Arkansas. A presumed Tropical Parula x Northern Parula was near Pecan Island, Vermilion LA 13 Jan (PEC, PAW). Rare in winter in Arkansas, Palm Warblers were found on the Hot Springs CBC, Garland 29 Dec; Pine Bluff CBC, Jefferson 31 Dec; and the Big Lake CBC, Mississippi 3 Jan (all LA). Single Black-headed Grosbeaks in Louisiana were at Lafayette, Lafayette 7 Jan–11 Apr (RM), and at Diamond, Plaquemines 10 Feb (DFL). Very rare in winter in Arkansas, an Indigo Bunting was photographed at a feeder in Gillett, Arkansas 12 Jan (GH). A Dickcissel photographed 6 Dec east of Brookland, Craighead AR (JW) represents a very rare winter sighting of this common summer resident.

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 primarily taken from rare bird reports submitted to the Louisiana Bird Records Committee (LBRC) and to the Louisiana birding listserv (LABIRD) and Facebook group. More detailed information on Louisiana rarity reports can be found at County and parish names are italicized.

Report processed by Amy Davis, 28 Jul 2021.

Photos–Arkansas-Louisiana: Winter 2018–2019

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