Arkansas-Louisiana: Winter 2019–2020

Winter 2019–2020: 1 Dec–29 Feb

Paul Conover, Louisiana

Kenny Nichols, Arkansas

Recommended citation:

Conover, P. and K. Nichols. 2021. Winter 2019–2020: Arkansas-Louisiana. <> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights include Brown Pelican, Great Crested Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, American Redstart, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Observers (subregional editors in boldface)

Leif Anderson, Todd Balinger, Katie Barnes, Bonnie Taylor Barry, James W. Beck,  Rrik Beck, Wendy Wilson Billiot, Gary Broussard, Jacque Brown, Robin Buff, Bill Burnham, Terry Butler, Lynn Christie, Pat Clanton, Paul E. Conover (Louisiana), Matt Courtman, Ivory Detter, George Dokes, Susan Edmunds, David Finch, Robert Foehring, Megan Foil, Francine Forester, Cindy Franklin, Joan Garvey, Dawn Gray, Tad Guidry, Idun Gunther, Gabrielle Hargrove, Suzanne Harrison, Karen Hatcher (KHa), Hubert Hervey, Karen Holiday (KHo), Ann Honeycutt, Erik I. Johnson, Oscar Johnson, Rick Jones, Camryn Keil, Linda Kingsland, Kevin Krajcir, Vivek Govind Kumar, Daniel F. Lane, Ed Laster, Christopher Lindsey (CLi), Michael Linz, Charles Lyon (CLy), Michael Mahoney (MMa), Daniel Mason (DMa), Megan Massa, Ethan Massey, Delos McCauley (DMc), Terry McCormick, Patty McLean, Charles Mills, Sarah Morris, Michael J. Musumeche, Kenny Nations (KNa), Joe Neal, John Nelson (JNe), Kenny Nichols (Arkansas), LaDonna Nichols, David Oakley, Araks Ohanyan, Glenn Oussett, Kelly Panneck, Ronnie Pate, Dave Patton, Malise Prieto, Kathy Rhodes, Janine Robin (JRo), John Redmon, Rene Sawyer (RSa), Adam Schaffer, Dan Scheiman, Samantha Scheiman, Vicki Sensat, Michael Seymour, Peter Shaffer, Roy Stoval (RSt), Ragan Sutterfield (RSu), Tom Trenchard (TTr), Tim Tyler, Noel Venezia, Johnny Walker (JWa), Phillip A. Wallace, Melvin Weber, Jacob Wessels (JWe), Jon Wise (JWi), Bill Wood.

Waterfowl through Ibis

A Trumpeter Swan at Anderson’s Minnow Farms 15 Dec (DS, m.ob.) was a first for Lonoke, AR. Rare but annual in Arkansas, nine Tundra Swans were at Atkins Bottoms, Pope 19 Jan (MM). The three Blue-winged Teal observed on the Bayou DeView CBC, Monroe 22 Dec were the season’s only Arkansas report of this rare winter resident (LA). Rare in winter in Arkansas, Surf Scoters were reported from Lake Georgia-Pacific, Ashley 12 Dec (LA) and Conway 7 Feb (ML, PM). Louisiana’s only White-winged Scoter report for the season was of two birds at Metairie, Jefferson 1–8 Feb (JWi, JWB. RB, LK). A Long-tailed Duck was at Slidell, St. Tammany, LA 11–24 Jan (JRo, TTr, RSa, GO). 

Quite rare in Arkansas away from the Ft. Smith area, a White-winged Dove was photographed in Little Rock, Pulaski 12 Feb (DS, SS, m.ob.). Very rare in winter, a Common Nighthawk was observed over Lake Saracen, Jefferson, AR 13 Dec (CLy). The only Broad-billed Hummingbird discovered in Louisiana during the season was banded in New Iberia, Iberia 11 Feb (KB, SE, EIJ). Rarely encountered in winter in Arkansas, two heard-only Soras were reported: one at Lake Georgia-Pacific, Ashley 13 Dec, and one the next day at Arkadelphia, Hot Springs (both LA). Two Common Gallinules were photographed near Gillett, Arkansas 25 Feb (GH); this species is locally rare in the winter months in Arkansas. Limpkins continued their star turn in Houma, Terrebonne with two observed at a “traditional” spot for the third year running 16 Jan (KR). An impressive 527 Sandhill Cranes were east of Texarkana, Miller, AR 23 Feb (CM); this is the second-highest count ever recorded. Rare and almost annual, a Spotted Sandpiper was at the Pine Bluff Wastewater Treatment Facility, Jefferson, AR 13 Jan (TBu, KNa, DF). An Iceland Gull was near Egan, Acadia, LA 25 Jan (PEC, DP). 

Rare loons for the season in Arkansas included a Red-throated Loon at Lake Georgia-Pacific, Ashley 13 Dec and both a Red-throated and a Pacific Loon on Lake Hamilton, Garland 29 Dec (all LA). A Neotropic Cormorant near the Arkansas River, just south of Atkins, Pope 15 Feb was the season’s only Arkansas report of this rare winter visitor (K&LN). Brown Pelican is a very rare visitor to Arkansas; one was at Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff, Jefferson 7 Jan (GD, JR). Rare in winter in Arkansas, an American Bittern was on the Bayou DeView CBC, Monroe 22 Dec (LA). There were three Arkansas Cattle Egret reports: one near Pettus, Lonoke 15 Dec (K&LN); one near Cane Creek SP, Lincoln 15 Feb (CF, BB); and a suprising ten east of Stuttgart, Arkansas 24 Feb (TT). Rare winter ibis sightings for Arkansas included: eight White Ibis photographed at Bundrick Farms, Lafayette 23 Dec (CLi); three White-faced Ibis photographed on Lake Dardanelle, Pope 11 Dec (TM); and Plegadis ibis sightings at two different remote Arkansas locations on 19 Dec (KK, m. ob.) and 24 Feb (TT). 

Eagles through Crossbills

Golden Eagles were sighted in Arkansas on the Ozark NF, near Calico Rock, Baxter 20 Dec (LA); in eastern Stone 30 Dec (MF); and Devil’s Den SP, Washington 15 Feb (DMa). A fresh specimen of a Long-eared Owl was salvaged in Bossier, LA on 5 Jan (FF). Very rarely seen, a Northern Saw-whet Owl was found perched on the observer’s back deck railing near Bull Shoals, Baxter, AR 11 Jan (RSt). There were two Prairie Falcon reports for the season: one photographed at Yellville, Marion, AR 11 Feb (RSt) and one at Atkins Bottoms, Pope, AR 9 Jan (K&LN). Louisiana’s first confirmed wintering Great Crested Flycatcher was near Creole, Cameron 14 Jan (PEC). 

Louisiana had a good showing of Brown-crested Flycatchers, with one in Cameron, Cameron 8 Dec (PEC, DP, PAW); at least one at Bayou Sauvage NWR, Orleans (JG, JNe, MMa); and another in Plaquemines 2 Feb was apparently Louisiana’s second occurrence of subspecies magister (DFL). “Tropical” kingbirds surged full force into the area during the season. In Louisiana, silent Tropical/Couch’s kingbirds were in Sulphur, Calcasieu 15 Dec (VS) and Theriot, Terrebonne 12 Feb (WWB), while vocal Tropical Kingbirds were in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge 28 Dec–2 Feb (OJ, JG) and at Bayou Manchac WMA, St. John the Baptist on 25 Feb (MP, JR). Undoubtedly the highlight of the season for Arkansas, a first state-record Tropical Kingbird was at Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff, Jefferson 13 Dec and continued through the season (JR, DMc, m.ob.). Birds reported as vocal Couch’s Kingbird in Louisiana were near Kaplan, Vermilion 17 Dec (MS); Natchitoches 4 Jan (MC, HH); Lacassine NWR, Cameron 8 Jan (MJM); and Calcasieu 24 Feb (JG); the latter bird may have been the silent Tropical/Couch’s noted above on 15 Dec. A first-ever mid-winter Least Flycatcher was seen and recorded calling at Knoop Park, Little Rock, Pulaski, AR 17–20 Jan (RSu). A Pacific Slope/Cordilleran flycatcher was present 14–15 Jan in Plaquemines, LA (JWB, LK). A Say’s Phoebe was discovered at the WG Huxtable Pumping Station, Marianna, Lee, AR 16 Feb by observers (ML, PM) searching for a Vermilion Flycatcher previously found 15 Feb at the same location (DG). 

Seasonally very rare in Arkansas, a White-eyed Vireo was photographed in Little Rock, Pulaski 14 Dec (DS, SM); another was photographed 5 Jan at Wapanocca NWR, Crittenden (RF). Of the multiple Blue-headed Vireo reports for Arkansas, most interesting were three at Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas 1 Dec (GH) and three at the St. Francis NF, Phillips 19 Dec (LA, IG). The eight Tree Swallows at the Carlisle Wastewater Treatment Plant, Lonoke 15 Dec represent just the sixth December occurrence on file for Arkansas (LC, EL, AH). Very rare in winter, a Rock Wren was found among the rip-rap at Dardanelle Lock & Dam, Pope, AR 3 Jan (K&LN). In Little Rock, Pulaski an American Robin was observed remodeling an old nest several days prior to laying three eggs on 28 Dec! Nesting continued until 8 Jan when the nest was abandoned (EL). A Sprague’s Pipit seen and heard calling at Kibler Bottoms, Crawford 7 Dec (VGK, JN, TBa) was the season’s only report from Arkansas of this rare winter resident. Multiple Red Crossbills were noted in Arkansas on the Sylamore Ranger District CBC, Baxter 20 Dec, and at Felsenthal NWR, Union 15 Dec (both LA). 

Sparrows through Buntings

A very late Clay-colored Sparrow photographed at the University of Arkansas Experimental Farm on the Fayetteville CBC, Washington 16 Dec was just the second December Arkansas occurrence on file (VGK, TBa). Louisiana’s star of the season, a Golden-crowned Sparrow discovered 25 Jan (BW) and present through at least 10 Mar at Red River NWR, Bossier, was just the state’s third and the first since 1999. Very uncommon so far east, an immature Harris’s Sparrow was found just north of Pangburn, Cleburne, AR 22 Jan (TBu). Seasonally rare in the Ozarks, a Vesper Sparrow was at Fayetteville, Washington, AR 15 Dec (VGK, TBa, m.ob.). Lone Spotted Towhees in Arkansas were at Lake Hinkle, Scott 18 Dec (MM); Scatter Creek WMA, Greene 9 Feb (JWe); and Little Rock, Pulaski 21 Feb (JWa). With only five previous mid-winter Yellow-headed Blackbird reports on file for Arkansas, three reports this season was highly unusual; single birds were noted in central Monroe 6 Dec (MM, CK); at England, Lonoke 17 Feb (CF, Kho); and near Humnoke, Lonoke 29 Feb (EM). A Baltimore Oriole at Hensley, Saline 9 Dec was the only report of this rare winter visitor for Arkansas (KHa). Great-tailed Grackles continue their march north and east into Arkansas via truckstops along the I-30/I-40 corridor. Eight were at the busy Galloway exit, Pulaski 6 Feb (DR); elsewhere, an impressive 108 were counted near Knoxville, Johnson 31 Dec–1 Jan (K&LN, LA, ML, PM). 

There were many noteworthy rare seasonal warbler sightings for Arkansas this winter. A fourth-ever mid-winter Tennessee Warbler was photographed 13 Feb in Greene (KP), and there were very late Nashville Warblers in Dardanelle, Yell 5 Dec (K&LN) and Bentonville, Benton 14 Dec (RB, AS). Also in Arkansas, a first-ever December/January American Redstart was photographed at Lake Fayetteville, Washington 15 Dec (PS, JB, DO, RJ) and 2 Jan (VGK, TBa); a Palm Warbler was at Felsenthal NWR, Union 15 Dec (LA); and a very, very early Yellow-throated Warbler was in Hector, Pope 29 Feb (LA). In Louisiana, a MacGillivray’s Warbler was discovered 8 Feb (OJ) on the Mississippi River levee in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge and continued through the end of the season. There were three reports of seasonally rare and possibly over-wintering Summer Tanagers in Arkansas: two were at Millwood SP, Little River 29 Dec (ID); one at a birdbath at Jack’s Isle, Millwood Lake, Little River 22 Jan (RP); and one photographed visiting a suet feeder 24 Jan at Magnolia, Columbia (PC). Very rare in winter in Arkansas, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was photographed visiting a feeder in Mountain View, Stone 4 Feb–18 Mar (SH), constituting the state’s first February record. Black-headed Grosbeaks were abundantly represented in saintly parishes and elsewhere in Louisiana during the season, with individuals in St. Tammany 22 Dec–1 Jan (NV); Cameron 22 Dec (GB); St. Landry 30–31 Dec (BTB); St. John the Baptist 5 Jan (MW); and St. Martin 10–13 Feb (TG). Seasonally very rare, an Indigo Bunting was at Holla Bend NWR, Pope, AR 8 Jan (MM, AO).

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, 29 Jul 2021.

Photos–Arkansas-Louisiana: Winter 2019–2020

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