Arkansas Region: Fall 2021

Fall 2021: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Lyndal York

Recommended citation:

York, L. 2023. Fall 2021: Arkansas Region. <> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights: Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Piping Plover, Black-legged Kittiwake, Neotropic Cormorant, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cave Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Bewick’s Wren, and Clay-colored Sparrow.


Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are suspected to be breeding at the Arkadelphia Oxidation Ponds (restricted access), Clark Co since two adults and three fledged young were seen here 12 Sep (Renn & Terry Tumlison). Five adults had been seen at this location in March and April. A very high number of 175 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, mixed adults and juveniles, was reported from Miller Co 28 Nov (Kenneth Karwowski, Elizabeth Farnum). Eight very rare Fulvous Whistling-Ducks were photographed at Bald Knob NWR, White Co 7 Aug (Clifford VanNostrand). This species has been slow to move into Arkansas.

A Greater White-fronted Goose x Canada Goose hybrid was seen on Senteney Road, Poinsett Co 12 Oct (Kevin Krajcir). Cackling Geese are not common in Arkansas. One was seen at Bald Knob NWR, White Co 26 Oct (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

Cinnamon Teal are rare in Arkansas and particularly in Washington Co as the last one reported there was in 1996. Now there is a new report from Lake Sequoyah, Washington Co 5 Sep of a Cinnamon Teal in a large mixed flock of ducks (Salvador Barraza Lopez, Michael Slay, Christy Slay, Erin Sauer, Jeremy Cohen). Nine Common Mergansers were on Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner Co 16 Nov (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

Doves to Shorebirds

An Inca Dove appeared in a yard in Cabot, Lonoke Co 16 Nov (Joe, Amy Hall). It was a surprise when a White-winged Dove appeared at the Little Rock Port Authority, Pulaski Co 14 Nov (Ragan Sutterfield).

Black-billed Cuckoos are rare fall migrants in Arkansas. Nonetheless one was seen at a private residence on Lake Dardanelle, Yell Co 29 Sep (Kenny Nichols).

Three Virginia Rails were seen and heard at sunrise in a cattail marsh adjacent to the Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville, Washington Co on 17 Oct and again on 20 Oct (Todd Ballanger, m.o.b.). Virginia Rails are rare transients in NW Arkansas with fewer than 12 being reported over the years in Washington Co. A juvenile Piping Plover was photographed at the Boyd Water Treatment Plant, Pine Bluff, Jefferson Co 30 Aug (Carol Tucker-Jackson).

Most surprising was a flock of 20 Sandhill Cranes in the Ouachita Mountains, Scott Co 21 Oct (Kevin McGann). It is most unusual to find this species in the hill country.

Forty-six Buff-breasted Sandpipers were found in the Kibler Bottoms, Crawford Co 5 Sep (Joe Neal). This is a good location to find them during fall migration. A single non-breeding adult Red-necked Phalarope was found close to Huntsman Road in the Bald Knob NWR, White Co 29 Aug (Christian Herzog) and two were found at the same location 22 Sep (Michael Linz, Patty McLean). Red-necked Phalaropes are rare but one or two are seen annually.

Gulls to Falcons

An exceedingly rare Black-legged Kittiwake was photographed below the James W Trimble Lock and Dam 13 on the Arkansas River, Crawford Co 6 Nov (Brian Weindel). It was identified by the M pattern on back and black mark across back of neck.

Betty Evans reports two very early Common Loons at Dam 2 on Beaver Lake, Carroll Co 8 Sep.

First reported county record of a Wood Stork was by Michael Linz and Patty McLean, who found seven birds 22 Sep near the White River Bridge, US 64, Woodruff Co.

Rare but occurring annually, two Neotropic Cormorants were discovered near the Eagle Watch Nature Trail (Flint Creek Power Plant), Benton Co 23 Aug (Joe Neal, Mike Martin). A single Neotropic Cormorant was photographed at Burnt Lake, Dale Bumpers White River NWR, Arkansas Co 4 Sep (Gabe & Pam Faulkner).

A single Mississippi Kite was being mobbed by a group of about 20 American Crows on North Mountain, Hot Springs NP, Garland Co 20 Oct (Ashlyn McKayla Ohm). Swainson’s Hawks occur annually in low numbers in the Chesney Prairie Natural Area, Benton Co. One was seen there 7 Aug (Joe Neal). A Rough-legged Hawk was reported around 5 miles south of Walnut Ridge, Lawrence Co 23 Nov (Rick Folkening). Two Prairie Falcons were reported with one sitting in a tree and the other flying nearby in the Chesney Prairie Natural Area, Benton Co 5 Nov (Michael Slay).

Flycatchers to Gnatcatchers

Glenn and Michelle Wyatt report a Western Kingbird at Cherokee Street and Willow Bend Drive, Conway Co 25 Oct. A group of 150 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were struggling against the wind while waiting out a storm during migration near Harp’s Grocery Store, Elkins, Washington Co 13 Oct (Mitchell Pruitt).

A rare Vermilion Flycatcher, often seen each year, was photographed at Holla Bend NWR, Pope Co 10 Oct (Lori & Steve Sitton).

Cave Swallows have continued to move into the middle of the state through SW Arkansas although nesting has not been documented. Recently, four birds have been photographed at Bald Knob NWR, White Co 6 Sep (Lance Runion, Stephanie Sexton). This location is the furthest north that Cave Swallows have been observed.

An early-arriving Red-breasted Nuthatch was observed at the USFS office in Hector, Pope Co 9 Sep (Leif Anderson).

There are three reports and a photograph of a very-slow-to-migrate Blue-gray Gnatcatcher from the Chesney Prairie Natural Area 1, Benton Co just a few days apart: 3 Nov (Betty Evans, Heather Cook); 5 Nov (Michael Slay); 6 Nov (Jeremy Cohen, Heather Cook).

Wrens to Grosbeaks

There are two reports of Bewick’s Wrens this fall although they are very rare. First is an observation from Bald Knob NWR on the north end of Coal Chute Road, White Co 12 Oct (Cheryl Johnson, Kim Harper) and second is a report at a residence on Cleburn Street, Fayetteville, Washington Co 24 Oct (Joe Neal).

A late nesting record for an American Robin was established by the observation of a fledgling being fed by an adult at a home on Beechwood Street, Little Rock, Pulaski Co 25 Oct (Dan Scheiman). The fledgling was still being fed 13 Nov at the same site.

A high count of 280 Lapland Longspurs was seen in Kibler Bottoms, Crawford Co 29 Nov (Joe Neal). Only the second report of a Clay-colored Sparrow at the Bald Knob NWR, White Co 26 Oct was noted by Glenn and Michelle Wyatt. Another Clay-colored Sparrow was found at Searcy, White Co 1 Nov (Jane Wiewora, Samantha Circle). For four minutes a Nelson’s Sparrow gave the observer good looks at Bell Slough WMA, Faulkner Co 8 Oct (Randy Robinson).

Although Great-tailed Grackles are not rare in Benton Co, a flock of 44 males in the Walmart parking lot in Siloam Springs, Benton Co 3 Sep (Patty Kirk) was surprising. A month later 50 Great-tailed Grackles were counted in the same parking lot 5 Oct (Joe Neal, Joe Woolbright).

Notable warbler observations include a Bay-breasted Warbler, Pea Ridge National Military Park, Benton Co 30 Sep (Joe Neal); and a late-to-migrate Yellow-throated Warbler, Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington Co 21 Nov (Kevin Krajcir, Robin Buff).

A late-migrating Painted Bunting was at Holla Bend NWR, Pope Co 18 Oct (Roger Massey).

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 4 Apr 2023.

Photos–Arkansas Region: Fall 2021

A surprising eight Fulvous Whistling-Ducks were found at the Bald Knob NWR in White Co, Arkansas on 7 Aug 2021. This species is very rare in Arkansas. Photo © Clifford VanNostrand.

A juvenile Piping Plover was photographed at the Boyd Water Treatment Plant in Pine Bluff, Jefferson Co, Arkansas on 30 Aug 2021. Photo © Carol Tucker-Jackson.

Black-legged Kittiwake is a very rare winter visitor. The last report was six years ago. This individual was photographed at the James W Trimble Lock and Dam 13 on the Arkansas River on 6 Nov 2021. Photo © Brian Weindel.

A single Neotropic Cormorant was photographed in the Dale Bumpers NWR in Arkansas at Burnt Lake on 4 Sep 2021. Photo © Gabe Faulkner.

A female Vermilion Flycatcher was sighted hawking insects at the Bald Knob NWR, Arkansas on 10 Oct 2021. The species is rare but one or two are seen annually. Photo © Lori Sitton.

Cave Swallows this far north in Arkansas is unheard of but these were photographed at Bald Knob NWR on 6 Sep 2021. Photo © Lance Runion.

A late-migrating Blue-gray Gnatcatcher appeared in the Chesney Prairie Natural Area in Benton Co on 6 Nov 2021 for a photograph. Several individuals are often found to overwinter in Arkansas each year. Photo © Jeremy Cohen.

Bewick’s Wrens have become rare in Arkansas with global warming. The last observation at Bald Knob NWR was in 2016. This bird was photographed there on 12 Oct 2021. Photo © Cheryl Johnson.

his Clay-colored Sparrow posed for a picture at Bald Knob NWR in White Co, Arkansas on 26 Oct 2021. Photo © Glenn Wyatt.