Arkansas Region: Winter 2020–2021

Winter 2020–2021: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Lyndal York

Recommended citation:

York, L. 2022. Winter 2020–2021: Arkansas Region. <> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights include Common Merganser, Anna’s Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Prairie Falcon, Tropical Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Townsend’s Solitaire, Evening Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, Yellow Warbler, Summer Tanager.

Swans through Mergansers

Five Trumpeter Swans near Walnut Ridge 2 Feb were a first for Lawrence Co (Kent Freeman). Tundra Swans are annual or nearly so in Cleburne Co; one was at SEECO Lake off Hiram Road 15 Dec (Michael Linz, Patty McLean); quite rare elsewhere, six were at Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 16 Dec (Ron Duvall). Rare in winter, four Blue-winged Teal were counted on the Lake Dardanelle CBC, near Lamar, Johnson Co 1 Jan (Leif Anderson). Very rare in any season a Cinnamon Teal photographed 12 Jan at Pine Bluff (Michael Linz, Patty McLean) was a first for Jefferson Co.

Rare and almost annual, Surf Scoters were well represented with four reports: singles at Lake Sequoyah, Washington Co 4 Dec (Todd Ballinger), Smith Pecan Farm, Phillips Co 9 Jan (Orin Robinson), and Dardanelle Lock & Dam, Yell/Pope Co 18 Feb (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols); two were at Lake Dardanelle, Yell Co 5 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). A White-winged Scoter at Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner Co 22 Feb was the only report of this rare winter visitor  (Michael Linz, Patty McLean). Possibly the rarest of the three scoter species that occur in the state, two Black Scoters were discovered at Lake Columbia, Columbia Co 15 Dec (Jeremy Chamberlain); one was at Lake Millwood, Hempstead Co 13 Dec (Jeremy Chamberlain, Heather Laferte).

Long-tailed Ducks staged a mini-invasion with six separate reports: one photographed at the East Swan Pond, Cleburne Co 13 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean); one at the Alma WTP, Crawford Co 15 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean), three at Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner Co 22 Feb (Michael Linz, Patty McLean), one on Lake Dardanelle, Yell Co 26 Dec (Kenny &LaDonna Nichols); one at Treadway’s Minnow Farms, Prairie Co 24 Jan  (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols) and an amazing nine on the Lake Dardanelle CBC, Yell Co 1 Jan (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols, Karen Holliday).

Mergansers also made an above average showing this season with six reports: one was at Cabin Creek Rec Area, Johnson Co 1 Jan (LA); one was at East Swan Pond, Hiram, Cleburne Co 13 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean); one was at Lake Sequoyah, Washington Co 9 Feb; six at Helena Harbor, 21 Feb (Matt Sutton Delaware) were a surprising first for Phillips Co; two were at Rec Area, Yell Co 19 Feb and 16 were north of Lake Dardanelle State Park, Pope Co 18 Feb (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). Very uncommon in winter, a male Red-breasted Merganser was at Lake Maumelle, Pulaski Co 4 Dec (Dustin Lynch, Brie Olsen).

Doves through Shorebirds

Out-of-range Inca Doves were spotted at Carden Bottoms, Yell Co 30 Dec and 26 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean) and at Scott, Pulaski Co 7 Feb (Araks Ohanyan). Rare but increasing, lone White-winged Doves were at the England Grain Bins, Lonoke Co 24 Jan (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols) and at a backyard feeder at Leachville, Mississippi Co 13 Feb (Jansen Hawkins).

Extralimital hummingbirds this season included a Black-chinned Hummingbird, present at a feeder in Austin, Lonoke Co 29 Jan–5 Feb (David & Gabriele Bitner, Michael Linz, Patty McLean); an Anna’s Hummingbird at a residence in Vilonia, Faulkner Co 30 Jan (Tracie Lemar, Michael Linz, Patty McLean); and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird photographed at a backyard feeder in Wynne, Cross Co 3 Dec that represents just the fifth occurrence in the state (Retha & Bob Hayes). Rufous Hummingbirds are rare but regular during the winter season and this year there were no less than five reports: an immature at Alexander, Saline Co 14 Dec (Rhonda & Danny Townsend); an adult male at Hampton, Calhoun Co 18 Dec (Charles & Michelle Brandon); one at Little Rock, Pulaski Co 14 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean); one photographed in North Pulaski Co 11 Feb (Kaye Osburn); and one near Lake Ouachita, Garland Co 14 Feb (Reed & Jane Kilgore).

There were numerous Virginia Rail reports with the most impressive being four counted at Alcoa Bottoms, Clark Co 8 Feb (Michael Linz, Patty McLean). The season’s only Sora report was a bird in rural Lonoke Co 27 Dec and 17 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean). Single Sandhill Cranes were at Arkadelphia, Hot Springs Co 19 Dec (Leif Anderson) and Lonoke, Lonoke Co 27 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). Very rare in winter, two American Avocets were seen on the Lonoke CBC, Lonoke Co 27 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

Rare shorebirds this season included an exceptional 100 Dunlin, counted in a flooded field east of Egypt, Lawrence Co 6 Dec (Alex Worm, Emily Donahue), and Spotted Sandpipers photographed at Lake Dardanelle State Park, Pope Co 15 Dec  (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols) and Two Rivers Park, Pulaski Co 13 Feb (Johnny Walker). A Pacific Loon on Lake Hamilton, Garland Co 20 Dec was the only report of this rare winter visitor (Leif Anderson). Very rare in winter, Anhingas were spotted at Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas Co 18 Dec and 28 Jan (Gabrielle Hargrove, Rosemary & Jessica Joganic) and the St. Francis National Forest, Lee Co (Leif Anderson). An American Bittern photographed at DeWitt, Arkansas Co 18 Feb (Mickey Smith) was the only report of this very rare winter visitor. Lingering Cattle Egrets were at Bald NWR, White Co 4 Jan (Glenn & Michelle Wyatt) and Hazen, Prairie Co 24 Jan (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). A high number, 75, of overwintering White Ibis were found near the intersection 71 N and Hwy 108, Miller Co 16 Dec (Bob Boyd).

Flickers through Blackbirds

A “Red-shafted” Northern Flicker observed at Horseshoe Bend 1 Jan was a first for Izard Co (David Martin). Rare falcons this season included Peregrine Falcons at the AGFC Nursery Pond near Knoxville, Johnson Co 1 Jan (LA), one chasing ducks on Lake Dardanelle, Yell Co 17 Feb  Kenny & LaDonna Nichols), and a Prairie Falcon photographed south of Blackwell, Conway Co 13 Jan (Glenn Wyatt). Very rare in winter, a Myiarchus sp. flycatcher was found at Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area, Pulaski Co 1 Jan (Doug Zollner). Just the second ever for the state, a Tropical Kingbird at Lake Saracen, Pine Bluff, Jefferson Co 7 Dec was undoubtedly the same bird that lingered in the area the previous winter (Delos McCauley).

Very rare overwintering White-eyed Vireos were at Lake Saracen, Jefferson Co 10 Dec and 29 Jan (Michael Linz & Patty McLean, Nancy & Joe Gieringer) while two separate individuals were found on the White River NWR, Arkansas Co 18 Dec (Alex Matthews, Lindsey Martin-Krikorian). Annual or nearly so, a Rock Wren at the Alma WTP 13 Jan was a first for Crawford Co (Sandy Berger). Rare and seriously declining, a Bewick’s Wren photographed at Little Rock 18 Feb was the first for Pulaski Co in over three years (Misty Ladd).

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are rare but annual in winter; one was in rural Cleveland Co 2 Jan  (Michael Linz, Patty McLean) and one was at Lake Felsenthal, Union Co 26 Dec (Leif Anderson). About the 12th for the state, a Townsend’s Solitaire was photographed at Devil’s Backbone Natural Area, Izard Co 16 Jan (Heather & Tony Cook).

A Gray Catbird on the Pine Bluff CBC, Jefferson Co 28 Dec was the season’s only report (Leif Anderson). The Evening Grosbeak invasion that began in late November continued throughout the winter season with five reports: one in Little Rock, Pulaski Co 8 Dec (Gary Morris); one at Kingston, Madison Co 15 Dec (Beth Weaver); six at a feeder in Lonsdale, Saline Co 15 Dec (Matt & Melanie Guthrie); seven at a feeder in Pangburn, Cleburne Co 31 Jan (Forest & Barbara Hembree); and six at Hot Springs, Saline Co 15 Feb (Sherry Clifton).

Very rare in winter and the first for Stone Co, a Common Redpoll was photographed east of Mountain View 1 Jan (Megan Foil). Three Red Crossbills on the Ozark NF, Pope Co 15 Dec were the only report of the season (Leif Anderson). Rare but annual, a Spotted Towhee was at Fayetteville, Washington Co 16 Feb (Sara & Bob Caulk). Very rare in winter, a Yellow-headed Blackbird was at Springdale, Washington Co 17 Feb (Richard & Donna Apfel).

Orioles through Dickcissels

Baltimore Orioles are considered to be very rare winter visitors. There were too many to list here but the number of sightings (15!) during the winter of 2020–2021 was exceptional by any standard. To put this into perspective, prior to the winter of 2020–2021, there were a grand total of 18 winter season sightings.

Just the third winter record, a Yellow Warbler was photographed at Rogers, Benton Co 16 Jan (Jeremy Cohen, Erin Sauer). A female Wilson’s Warbler at Knoop Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co 8 Jan represents just the fifth winter occurrence (Ragan Sutterfield, Dan Scheiman).

Though considered very rare in winter, Summer Tanagers were well represented with five sightings: one at Fayetteville, Washington 1 Dec (J.D. Wilson); one at Jonesboro, Craighead 3 Dec (Than Boves); one at Little Rock 10 Jan (Michelle Hansen, Caroline Hunt); one photographed in Fayetteville, Washington Co 10 Feb (Tayla & John Boerner); and another photographed in Fayetteville, Washington Co 12 Feb (Michael Lehmann).                                                                                                                 

An extremely rare xanthochromic “yellow” Northern Cardinal was photographed visiting a feeder at Caldwell, St. Francis Co 30 Dec (Phyllis Russell, Niki Jones, Cooper Jones, Carter Jones, Dawn Gray). Very rare in winter, Black-headed Grosbeaks were at Monticello, Drew Co 28 Dec (Ryan Askren) and Lake Erling, Lafayette Co 18 Feb (Phillip Abernathy). Very rare in mid-winter, a Dickcissel was found on the Pine Bluff CBC, Jefferson Co 28 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 4 Apr 2023.

Photos–Arkansas Region: Winter 2020–2021

This photo of a Common Merganser was taken at the East Swan Pond in Hiram, Cleburne Co on 13 Jan 2021 and is representative of the 26 individuals seen in six Arkansas counties. This is an unusually high number for the state. Photo © Michael Linz.

A rare Anna’s Hummingbird was photographed in a yard on Deerfield St. in Vilonia, Faulkner County, Arkansas on 30 Jan 2021. The bird stayed only a few days. Photo © Michael Linz.

During a few snowy days Kye Osburn found this Rufous Hummingbird visiting her feeder in North Pulaski County, Arkansas on 11 Feb 2021. Rufous Hummingbirds are rare in Arkansas although five were reported at different locations this season. Photo © Kaye Osburn.

Although Cattle Egrets are common in most seasons in Arkansas, they normally do not overwinter. This wintering individual was photographed at the Bald Knob NWR on 4 Jan 2021. Photo © Glenn Wyatt.

Seventy-five White Ibis were discovered in rural Miller Co, Arkansas on 16 Dec 2020. The two in the photo had some disagreement. This group of birds stayed in the area up into February. Photo © Bob Boyd.

This Prairie Falcon was seen in a farm field located south of the village of Blackwell, Arkansas on 13 Jan 2021. Prairie Falcons are occasional visitors to Arkansas in the winter. Photo © Glenn Wyatt.

A very rare Tropical Kingbird was discovered at the area around Lake Saracen in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on 7 Dec 2020. This date is within a week of when a Tropical Kingbird was seen at the same location last winter, suggesting the same bird returned. The bird spent the winter in the area. Photo © Delos McCauley.

A rare winter appearance of a White-eyed Vireo was documented by Nancy & Joe Gieringer at the area around Lake Saracen in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on 10 Jan 2021. Photo © Nancy Gieringer.

On a foggy day January 2021 in the Arkansas Ozarks Heather & Tony Cook found a decidedly rare Townsend’s Solitaire sitting in a small tree. There are only about a dozen records of this species in the state. It is usually found on Mt. Magazine in West Central Arkansas. Photo © Tony Cook.

Evening Grosbeaks are episodic in Arkansas; however, this was a banner year with reports from five counties totaling 21 individuals. On 15 Feb 2021 Sherry Chilton photographed two of six birds coming to her balcony feeder in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. The birds stayed for most of the winter. Photo © Sherry Chilton.

Common Redpolls are rarely seen in Arkansas; however, Megan Foil was able to capture this image of one in the Ozark Mountains near Mountain View on 1 Jan 2021. This is the first record for Stone Co. Photo © Megan Foil.

A very rare wintering Yellow Warbler was photographed at Rogers, Arkansas on 16 Jan 2021. Photo © Jeremy Cohen.

Although very rare in Arkansas in the winter, this was a banner year for overwintering Summer Tanagers with singles being reported in five counties. Michael Lehmann was able to photograph one at his feeder in Fayetteville, Arkansas on 12 Feb 2021. Photo © Michael Lehmann.