Arkansas Region: Fall 2023

Fall 2023: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Lyndal York

Recommended citation:

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

Seasonal highlights include: American Avocet, Inca Dove, Piping Plover, Dunlin, Red-necked Phalarope, Little Gull, Swallow-tailed Kite, Say’s Phoebe.

Geese through Limpkins

Early in the season a high number of 400 Ross’s Geese were reported in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 29 Oct (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). A summering population of ten Snow Geese was reported at a Highway 226 pond east of Cash, Craighead Co 23 Sep (Colin Dobson).

Surprisingly, a Surf Scoter appeared at Lake Sequoyah, Washington Co 28 Oct (Todd Ballinger). This is the second record for the county.

A White-winged Dove was found in Black River Overlook Park, Randolph Co 2 Jun (Denise & Danny Smith). This is the first record for the county since 27 Jul 2004. Inca Doves are rare in Arkansas but three were reported during the fall season; there was a second report, since 2021, of an Inca Dove at Murfreesboro, Pike Co 7 Mar (Timothy White); three Inca Doves were photographed in the 200 block of N. Michigan St, Delight, Pike Co 2 Oct (Gary & Sue Mcanelly); a single Inca Dove was heard calling loudly near the 3000 block of Arkansas Dr., Benton, Saline Co 20 Oct (Devin Moon, Raylan Bridges).

The only Black-billed Cuckoo reported was at Hobbs SP while on the Van Winkle Trail, Benton Co, 16 Sep (Kenneth McNease).

There was a significant influx of Limpkins into Arkansas during the fall season. A total of 65 Limpkins were reported in 27 different locations. These observations are catalogued as follows: Crittenden Co 11 Aug (Timothy Stackhouse); Pope Co, Holla Bend NWR 12 Aug (Lori Sitton); Arkansas Co, Five Oaks (restricted) 17 Aug (Ryan Askren,et al); Sevier Co, Pond Creek NWR 27 Aug (Daniel Parnell); Monroe Co, White River NWR 4 Sep (Scott Ellis); Pulaski, Gillam Park, Little Rock, 7 Sep (Ute Meyer, et al); Crittenden, Wapanocca NWR 11 Sep (Cindy, John Martin); Pope, Galla Creek NWR 12 Sep (Ronald Duvall, 12 Sep); Ashley Co, Overflow NWR (Andrew From, Richard Day, 12 Sep); Saline Co, Saline River area, 17 Sep (Tom Wingard); White Co, Des Arc Bayou 17 Sep (Cassandra Barnes); Pulaski Co, Vista Drive 21 Sep (Elizabeth Drinkwater-Beedham; Saline Co, Sunset Lake 25 Sep (Mark Alderman); Hempstead Co, Bois d’Arc Lake 29 Sep (Debra West, et al); Pulaski Co, Willow Beach Lake 1 Oct (LauraJo Prange); Sharp Co, Lake Thunderbird, Cherokee Village 21 Aug (Betty Starnes); Hempstead Co, Bois d’Arc WMA 4 Oct (Daniel McCain); Sharp Co, South Fork Spring River on Flathead Dr. 6 Oct (Josephine Fields Falcone); Garland Co, Lake Coronado, Hot Springs Village 9 Oct (Janet Rowe); Union Co, Calion Lake 9 Oct (Nancy Young); Faulkner Co Camp Robinson Special Use Area, 10 Oct (Stacy Fox); Randolph Co, Baltz Lake 16 Oct (Danny, Denise Smith); Garland Co, Lake Pineda 19 Oct (Jennifer Menge); Little River Co, White Cliffs Public Use Area 20 Oct (Gale Gardner); Desha Co, Silver Lake 22 Oct (Sheila Jarrett); Sebastian Co, Massard Creek at Rogers Ave, 22 Oct (Brian Weindel); Sebastian Co, Massard Creek 23 Oct (Sandy Berger); Sharp Co, Lake Sequoyah, Cherokee Village 27 Oct (Justin & Judy Wiles). Most of these reports were documented with photos.

Avocets through Phalaropes

A single American Avocet, uncommon in NW Arkansas, was photographed at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 16 Sep (Heather Cook).

There were two reports of Piping Plover, rare in NW Arkansas: at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 14 Aug (Ian MacGregory); and two Piping Plovers at Lake Sequoyah, Washington Co 22 Oct (Todd Ballinger).

Although not rare in Arkansas, Semipalmated Plovers are not commonly observed around Bull Shoals Lake; however, because of drought conditions, significant mud flats were available this fall. Four Semipalmated Plovers were photographed at Bull Shoals Lake, Boone Co 3 Sep (Heather Cook).

A Hudsonian Godwit was found at Bald Knob NWR, White Co 20 Aug (Jacob Miranda).

A single Ruddy Turnstone in full breeding plumage was photographed at the dam on Beaver Lake, Carroll Co 7 May (Bonnie Toleman). It is rare to find this species in the Ozark Mtns.

Because of low water levels, mud flats were exposed and eight Dunlin were photographed at East Sugarloaf Creek and Bull Shoals Lake, Boone Co 6 Nov (Heather & Tony Cook). An additional two Dunlin were found on Ozark Isle on Bull Shoals Lake 7 Nov (Heather & Tony Cook).

Uncommon in the Ozarks is Least Sandpiper. Seven were found on the mud flats at East Sugarloaf Creek, Bull Shoals Lake, Boone Co 3 Sep (Heather & Tony Cook).

The last report of White-rumped Sandpiper in Clark Co was an eBird report in 2012. Recently a flock of 14 was photographed flying over the Arkadelphia oxidation ponds, Clark Co 3 Jun (Renn & Terry Tumlison).

Pectoral Sandpipers are very common in most of Arkansas; however, they are rarely seen in the Ozarks because of lack of habitat.  The drought created mud flats in the area of Bull Shoals Lake, E. Sugarloaf Creek, Boone Co 3 Sep (Heather & Tony Cook) where only a single bird was found. One Semipalmated Sandpiper was also found on this same date and location.

Two Short-billed Dowitchers, rare in the region, were photographed at Lake Sequoyah, Washington Co 12 Aug (Todd Ballinger). This is the first record in 34 years.

A single Long-billed Dowitcher was photographed at Bull Shoals Lake, E. Sugarloaf Creek, Boone Co 4 Oct (Heather & Tony Cook). Rare in Boone Co.

A single Red-necked Phalarope was photographed at Bald Knob NWR, White Co (Ken Graves et al). One or two are frequently observed annually.

Gulls through Ibis

Two very rare Sabine Gulls were found on Lake Dardanelle, Nichols Property (restricted access), Yell Co 18 Sep and 7 Oct (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

Rarely seen in Arkansas was a Little Gull, photographed, on Lake Dardanelle–Nichols Property (restricted access), Yell Co 29 Nov (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols, Roger Massey).

Late in migration was a Franklin’s Gull, at Lake Dardanelle SP, Russellville, Pope Co 28 Oct (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

A Herring Gull in 1 winter plumage was observed at Lake Frierson SP, Greene Co 28 Oct (Ty Sharrow, Brody King).

A late migrating Least Tern was found at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 27 Aug (Quin Warsaw).  Surprisingly, there was a very rare (one report in Apr 2009) Gull-billed Tern at a reservoir at Camp Nine Farm near Arkansas City, Desha Co 4 Jul (Dick Baxter).

A Red-throated Loon, a rare winter visitor, appeared on Lake Dardanelle and was photographed from Nichols Property, (restricted access), Yell Co 29 Nov (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols, Roger Massey).

An early American Bittern was photographed at the Bald Knob NWR, White Co 28 Aug (Roger Massey, Simon Kiacz).

This is the first report of a Snowy Egret at Bull Shoals Lake, Ozark Isle, Marion Co 20 Sep (Heather & Tony Cook). This species is not normally seen in the hill country of the Ozarks.

Two very late in migration Western Cattle Egrets were found near the junction of US165/AR381, Pulaski Co 25 Nov (Ed Laster).

Two late-to-migrate White Ibis were found at the Bayou Meto WMA, Halowell Reservoir, Arkansas Co 8 Nov (Tim Tyler).

Kites through Shrikes

Swallow-tailed Kites were found in four different locations: Holla Bend NWR, Pope Co 9 Aug (Jason C. Martin); Winrock Drive on Petit Jean Mtn, Conway Co 11 Aug (Rachel & Shane Engebrecht); AR-26, 1/2mi west of AR-67 near Gum Springs, Clark Co 5 Sep (John Matejka);  Turner Tract on Dale Bumpers White River NWR, Arkansas Co 5 Sep (Jay Hitchcock).

Surprisingly, a Golden Eagle was found in the 1500 block of Thirteen Terrace, Barling, Sebastian Co 29 Sep (Pamela Carney, Donna Harman).

A very late-to-migrate Broad-winged Hawk was observed in the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Washington Co 10 Nov (Carol Joan Patterson).

A Northern Saw-whet Owl, responding to a tape, is the first for Washington Co, Ozark NF, Wedington WMA, Washington Co 1 Nov (Todd Ballinger).

A rare wintering Prairie Falcon, perhaps the same bird seen here for several winters, was found in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 30 Oct (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). The bird was seen again in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 3 Nov (Roger Massey).

Two rare Say’s Phoebes were found this fall season: one at Sunnymede Park, Ft. Smith, Sebastian Co 10 Sep (Sandy Berger); the other in the Kibler Bottoms, Crawford Co 10 Nov (Sheryl Childers, et al.).

Unexpected in the fall season in the Ozarks was a Loggerhead Shrike at Crooked Creek, Mark Oliver Access, Marion Co 23 Sep (Heather & Tony Cook). An out-of-season and early arriving Loggerhead Shrike was at the Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 24 Aug (Quin Warsaw).

Nuthatches through Warblers

A group of 5 Brown-headed Nuthatches was observed caching sunflower seed in pine tree bark crevices at the USFS office at Hector, Pope Co 7 Oct (Leif Anderson).

The early arrival of a Brown Creeper was noted in the Ozark NF, White Rock Mountain Recreation Area, Franklin Co 15 Sep (Gerald Wofford).

A Marsh Wren appeared very early in the fall season at Bald Knob NWR, White Co 26 Aug (Dan Scheiman, et al.).

A Clay-colored Sparrow, an uncommon migrant, was seen on Booker St, Little Rock, Pulaski Co 7 Sep (Ragan & Emily Satterfield). An early-arriving White-crowned Sparrow was seen on Pinnacle Mtn, Pinnacle Mountain SP, Pulaski Co 23 Sep (Christian Herzog). An early-arriving Harris’s Sparrow was found at Flint Creek Power Plant, Eagle Watch Nature Trail, Benton Co 19 Aug (Carol Joan Patterson, Donald Ouellette); a Henslow’s Sparrow, rarely seen in the Ozarks, Washington Co 16 Oct (Carol Joan Patterson, Donald Ouellette); another migrating Henslow’s Sparrow was noted at Cooks Landing on the Arkansas River, Little Rock, Pulaski Co 19 Oct (Ragan Satterfield).

Two early arriving Yellow-headed Blackbirds were found at Bald Knob NWR, White Co 29 Aug (Richard Preston, et al.).

Five hundred Brewer’s Blackbirds were seen at the corner of Cherokee St/Willow Bend Dr (West of AR21 and US6), Conway Co 2 Aug (Cindy Franklin).

A Blackburnian Warbler, an early arrival, was observed at the Water Conservation Resource Center, Dead Horse Mountain Rd, Fayetteville, Washington Co 2 Aug (Heather & Jay Costello).  Also, an early-arriving Chestnut-sided Warbler was found at Millwood Lake, Beard’s Bluff, Hempstead Co 28 Aug (Simon Kiacz).

Late in migration was a Blue Grosbeak at the Bernard Holland Ball Park, Benton, Saline Co 10 Nov (Mark Alderman).

Photos–Arkansas Region: Fall 2023

A single American Avocet, uncommon visitor to NW Arkansas, was photographed at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co on 16 Sep 2023. The bird was feeding with a group of Blue-winged Teal. Photo © Heather Cook.

An Inca Dove, rare but increasing in Arkansas, was discovered on Michigan St. in Delight, Pike Co on 2 Oct 2023 by Gary and Sue McAnelly. Photo © Timothy Tyler (from an earlier sighting in Pike Co).

Two Piping Plovers were located at Lake Sequoyah in Washington Co on 22 Oct 2023. There are only two previous records for this species in NW Arkansas. The last record was 34 years ago at Lake Sequoyah. Photo © Todd Ballinger.

The lower water levels on Bull Shoals Lake due to drought exposed mud flats which are not normally present. A number of shorebirds were found using the mud flats and have not been previously reported for the county. Eight Dunlin were found on 6 Nov 2023 at Sugarloaf Creek on Bull Shoals Lake, Boone Co, Arkansas. Photo © Heather Cook.

During the fall migration, a Red-necked Phalarope is an occasional visitor to Arkansas. Indeed, one was photographed at Bald Knob NWR, in White Co on 17 Aug 2023. Photo © Ken Graves.

Very rare but occasionally seen in Arkansas was a Little Gull on Lake Dardanelle, from Nichols restricted property, on 29 Nov 2023, Yell Co. Photo © Roger Massey.

Swallow-tailed Kites are rare but seen annually in Arkansas. A total of seven Swallow-tailed Kites were seen this fall in four different counties. Four individuals were found in the Turner Tract of the Dale Bumpers White River NWR on 5 Sep. The photo shown here was taken at Holla Bend NWR, Pope Co on 9 Aug 2023. Photo © Jason C. Martin.

Two Say’s Phoebes, seen annually, were observed in two different counties. There was one bird in the Kibler Bottoms, Crawford Co 10 Nov 2023 reported by Cheryl Childers. The bird shown here was photographed at Sunnymeade Park, Sebastian Co 9 Sep 2023. Photo © Sandy Berger.