Arkansas Region: Spring 2023

Spring 2023: 1 Mar–31 May

Lyndal York

Recommended citation:

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

Seasonal highlights include: Whimbrel, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Hawk, Crested Caracara, Western Kingbird X Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Evening Grosbeak, Lesser Goldfinch, Lark Bunting, Scott’s Oriole.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks continue to expand their range in northeast AR with the observation of six birds in the 1800 block of AR 304, Pocahontas, Randolph Co 22 Apr (Kent Freeman). A very rare Fulvous Whistling-Duck was in the company of 44 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 12 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). A blue morph Ross’s Goose was seen on CR 723, Walnut Ridge, Lawrence Co 26 Mar (Ty Sharrow). A late migrating blue morph Ross’s Goose was observed near Alldon-Marie Road, Conway Co 20 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols) and a late-migrating blue morph Snow Goose was seen the same day and location.

A late-migrating female Bufflehead was spotted on Lake Dardanelle, Yell Co 12 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). A female Common Merganser was found on Meneshea Lake, Crittenden Co 10 Apr (Scott Heppel).  Surprisingly, a hybrid American Wigeon X Green-winged Teal was found in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 1 Apr (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols).    

An Inca Dove was reported at a residence in Conway Co 23 Mar (Anonymous), while two Inca Doves were seen in Oppelo, Conway Co 26 Apr (Jessica Sullivan). A single Inca Dove was reported hanging out at Lucky Landing, Atkins Lake, Pope Co 19 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). White-winged Doves were reported in two different counties: on CR 4, Crossett, Ashley Co 19 Mar (Donna White); Timber Creek Circle, N. Little Rock, Pulaski Co 27 May (Tinna Allen).

Two rare Black-billed Cuckoos were found in two different counties: one was at the Camp Robinson Special Use Area, Faulkner Co 2 May (Roger Massey) and the other was on Mount Sequoyah, Fayetteville, Washington Co 15 May (Juan Garcia).

A King Rail was heard calling in the Choctaw WMA, Desha Co 3 May (Kenny Nichols, Dick Baxter). Surprisingly, a single Virginia Rail was found at a nest near Winslow, Washington Co 25 Mar (Guy Gaesswitz).

One of three Limpkins reported this spring was at Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas Co 5 Mar (Merideth Lusk); another was at Bald Knob NWR, White Co 19 May (Rob Harbin, Bob Foehring) and sighted again 20 May (Deepak Pati); and the last at Big Creek Burntbridge, Columbia Co 27 May (Hazen Taylor).  A first for the county was a Black-necked Stilt at Arkadelphia Oxidation Ponds, Clark Co 13 May (Renn, Terry Tumlison). Seven Whimbrels were photographed at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 14 May (Jim Landrum). A very rare spring Marbled Godwit was observed at Keo Fish Farm, Lonoke Co 12 May (Jeremy Chamberlain, Dan Scheiman). Rare migrating Ruddy Turnstones were found in two counties: an adult male in alternate plumage in Paris Bottoms, Logan Co 9 Apr (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols) and a pair in breeding plumage in the Atkin’s Bottoms, Pope Co 27 Apr (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). A lone Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a very rare spring migrant, was in a low area near AR 155, Yell Co 12 May (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). Surprisingly, 27 Willets were found at Spring Lake, a small lake in a forest, Yell Co 24 Apr (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols).

A Caspian Tern was photographed at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 25 Mar (Jim Landrum). Late-migrating Common Terns were found at three sites: Dardanelle Lock and Dam, Yell Co 5 and 11 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols); Lucky Landing, Lake Atkins, Pope Co 19 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols), three birds; and Lake Dardanelle,Yell Co 25 May(Kenny & Ladonna Nichols), two birds.

A total of two Laughing Gulls were at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam, Yell Co: first to be sighted 1 Apr was a first winter bird that was seen again on 2 and 3 Apr followed by an adult on 5 Apr (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). A late-migrating Ring-billed Gull was noted at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam, Yell Co 27 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). A single Lesser Black-backed Gull in first-winter plumage was found at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam, Yell Co 16 Apr (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols).

A Least Bittern was heard at David D. Terry Lock and Dam, Pulaski Co 26 Mar (Stacy Fox). A very early Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was found at Galla Creek WMA, Pope Co 5 Mar (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). Seen wading in a swampy area were a Glossy Ibis and a White-faced Ibis at Little Rock Port Authority, Pulaski Co 19 May (Ruth Rowe, Jake Marquess).

An Osprey was spotted at Hensley, Grant Co 11 May (William Parker). Two Swallow-tailed Kites were photographed at Warren Prairie Natural Area, Bradley Co 24 Apr (Johnny Aguirre). Seen from above perched in the top of a pine tree was an adult Golden Eagle at Hot Springs NP, Balanced Rock Trail, Garland Co 10 Mar (Jacob Baumgartner). A second Golden Eagle was noted at Jim Kress WMA, Cleburne Co 1 Apr (Robert Harden). Surprisingly, a rare Ferruginous Hawk was photographed at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery. Centerton, Benton Co 15 Mar (Roger Massey).

A female Red-shafted Northern Flicker was seen at Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington Co 1 Apr (Kenny Younger).

A Crested Caracara, very rare for Arkansas, was photographed by Joe Neal. It was first reported by Dale Zigelsky on Harmon Road, Washington Co 27 Apr. Late-migrating Merlins were found in two different locations: in Camp Robinson WDA, Faulkner Co 3 May (Kenny Nichols & Dick Baxter) and in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 19 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols).

A new hybrid for the state was a Western Kingbird X Scissor-tailed Flycatcher photographed off AR 323, Prairie Co 28 Apr (Gale Stewart) and a single Western Kingbird was photographed near Hasley Road, Clark Co 30 Apr (Bart Theriot). A very high count of 205 Eastern Kingbirds was recorded near Roseboro Island Road,  Marion, Crittenden Co 1 May (Rob Harbin).

Early arrival of three Cliff Swallows was noted at Cook’s Landing, Little Rock, Pulaski Co 15 Mar (Leslie Peacock).

A Bewick’s Wren, only the fifth for the county, was reported on Riverview Road, White Co 13 Apr (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

A rare Evening Grosbeak, female, was found eating seeds under a feeder at Elkridge Lane, Paron, Saline Co 13 Apr (Charles Glenn). A late-departing Purple Finch was found in the 190 block of Bear Ridge Road, Carroll Co 10 May (Melissa Versiga). Red Crossbills were found in two different counties: two birds were eating gravel in Ouachita NF, Pine-Bluestem Buffalo Road, Scott Co 28 May (Natalie Rekittke); and a single Red Crossbill was photographed off Hwy 314, Yell Co 4 Mar (Kay, Addie Cox). A very rare Lesser Goldfinch was photographed at a residence in Bella Vista, Benton Co 13 May (Ann, Greg Sherlock). This is the 13th record for Lesser Goldfinch in Arkansas.

A molting male Lark Bunting, the sixth state record, was initially found by Amber Atkinson and photographed on S. Hickory St., Bald Knob,  White Co 6 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols).

Heard singing was a Clay-colored Sparrow, a rare migrant, on Willow Bend Drive, Conway Co 4 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). A late-migrating Harris’s Sparrow was found in Lollie Bottoms, Faulkner Co 5 May (Roger Massey). Late-migrating White-throated Sparrows were found in two counties: a tan morph was seen in Hendrix Creek Preserve, Conway, Faulkner Co 22 May (Kevin Krajcir, Maureen McClung) and another near Delaware Bay, Yell Co 25 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols). A late-migrating Vesper Sparrow on Willow Bend Drive, Conway Co 6 May (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols) was notable.

Surprisingly, three Yellow-headed Blackbirds were photographed on Hasley Road, Clark Co 29 Apr (Bart Theriot). Usually there are several reports of migrating Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

A very rare Scott’s Oriole (only the 10th record for the state) was photographed in a rural area of the Ozark Mountains, Baxter Co 24 Mar (Sara Prough). A flock of 40 late-migrating Brewer’s Blackbirds were located in the Lollie Bottoms, Faulkner Co 23 Apr (Sarah Morris, et al) while three birds were observed at Bald Knob NWR 23 Apr (Michael Linz, Patty McLean, Randy Robinson) and another 47 birds were near AR 41, Franklin Co (Kenny & Ladonna Nichols).

Great-tailed Grackles continue to expand their range in the state with reports from four different counties: there were four males and three females at Caddo Valley near I-30, Clark Co 4 Mar (Renn &Terry Tumlison);  there were two birds at the Shell Station across from Staples, Pine Bluff, Jefferson Co 17 Mar (Lance Hickerson); there was one male at a new location at a Walmart parking lot, Bebee, White Co 1 Apr (Glenn & Michelle Wyatt); and there were two birds in the 1500 block of Main St., Jacksonville, Pulaski Co 1 Apr (Amber Atkinson, Gary Morris).

A seldom-seen Swainson’s Warbler was photographed near Frog Bayou on Lake Shepherd Springs Road, Crawford Co 29 Apr (Cheryl Childers). Either an overwintering or early-arriving Palm Warbler was at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie WMA, Hempstead Co 22 Apr (Paul Lowery).

Three early arriving Summer Tanagers were photographed at Crater of Diamonds SP, Pike Co 22 Apr (Gary McAnelly).

Thirty Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a very high number, were seen at the Gann Farm, Columbia Co 2 May (Jim Gann).

An early-arriving Indigo Bunting was noticed at a home on Berlanga Circle, Garland Co 23 Mar (Jeri, Mario Garcia).

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 07 Feb 2024.

Photos–Arkansas Region: Spring 2023

Seven rare Whimbrels stopped during their migration north at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery in Centerton on 14 May 2023 and were photographed. Seven birds is a large number for Arkansas as there are only 27 records and usually only one or two birds are reported in each record. Photo © Jim Landrum.

Seen foraging on 19 May 2023 in a flooded depression at the Little Rock Port Authority in Pulaski Co, Arkansas was a Glossy Ibis. It is rare to find them in the Little Rock area. Photo © Ruth Rowe.

A Ferruginous Hawk, rarely seen in Arkansas, was photographed at the Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery in Centerton. Most of the 13 reports in the archives are from NE Arkansas in Craighead and Jackson Counties. Photo © Roger Massey.

Dale Zigelsky found the fifth Crested Caracara to be reported in Arkansas. It was eating road kill on Harmon Road in Fayetteville on 27 Apr 2023. The bird flew into a row of trees that were backlit. Joe Neal was able to photograph the bird the next day. Photo © Joe Neal.

A hybrid of a Western Kingbird and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was discovered and photographed off AR323 just after the gravel road turns east off the blacktop, Prairie Co, on 28 Apr 2023. This is the first record of this hybrid in Arkansas. The bird had a white back, a strong black eyeline, and yellowish belly with a long tail edged in white. Photo © Gale Stewart.

Bewick’s Wrens are becoming quite rare in Arkansas; however, one was found on Riverview Road, Searcy, Arkansas on 14 Mar 2023. Photo © Michael Linz.

This Lesser Goldfinch was with American Goldfinches at a seed feeder in Bella Vista, Benton Co, on 13 May 2023. This is only the 13th record for this species in Arkansas. Photo © Ann Sherlock.

This rare Harris’s Sparrow was photographed on 5 May 2023 while foraging in a field near the Conway Airport with a small flock of White-crowned Sparrows. It is rare because of being so far east in Arkansas and for being so late in the season. Photo © Roger Massey.

A rarely-photographed Swainson’s Warbler was near Frog Bayou on Lake Shepherd Springs Road in Crawford County, Arkansas on 29 May 2023. This species is common locally during breeding season. Photo © Cheryl Childers.