Arkansas Region: Winter 2021–2022

Winter 2021–2022: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Lyndal York

Recommended citation:

York, L. 2023. Winter 2021–2022: Arkansas Region.<> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights include: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, Snowy Owl, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Summer Tanager.

Geese through Hummingbirds

A very high count of 6,038 Ross’s Geese were found on HWY 79 just north of the Arkansas River and north of Pine Bluff, Jefferson Co 28 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

The report of 14 Trumpeter Swans at a pond on Clay Rd. in Pangburn, White Co 7 Jan and 80 in an agricultural field off Highway 16, White Co 7 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean) was a surprise since they are rarely seen in White Co. The first report of Trumpeter Swans in Independence Co 9 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean) occurred at an agricultural field off Highway 157.

There were two reports of rare Tundra Swans: 15 were observed in a flooded field along Hwy 412E, Greene Co 4 Dec (Kelly Panneck); two were found in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 26 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

A single Blue-winged Teal was at Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 9 Dec (Heather Cook).

There were three reports of Common Mergansers: one at Heber Springs Water Treatment Plant, Cleburne Co 14 Jan (Heather & Tony Cook); five at Big Lake NWR, Bald Cypress Wildlife Drive, Mississippi Co 8 Feb (Michael Linz), and five, two drakes, at Lake Charles, Lawrence Co 6 Feb (Kent Freeman).  A single Red-breasted Merganser was photographed at Lake Willastein, Maumelle, Pulaski Co 7 Jan (Deborah Moore).

Inca Doves were seen at two different locations: Three individuals at Kirby, Pike Co 9 Dec (Jessica Sirmon); two individuals at Horatio, Sevier Co 31 Dec (Jennifer & Devin Moon). A single very rare Common Ground Dove continued at Ferguson Street, Cossett, Ashley Co 23 Dec (Bobby Schat). A single White-winged Dove was at President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home, Hempstead Co 2 Jan (Emily Conant) while a single White-winged Dove was noted on Delfore Road, just south of Leachville, Mississippi Co 7 Feb (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). This is the third record for Mississippi Co with the first being in 2015.

It was a surprise when a Black-billed Cuckoo was spotted on personal property along the bank of Lake Dardanelle, east of Dardanelle, Yell Co 28 Sep (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

Hummingbirds are rare in Arkansas during the winter; nonetheless a Ruby-throated Hummingbird was found by the homeowner at a private residence in West Little Rock, Pulaski Co 6 Dec (Michael Linz, Patty McLean). The bird spent the winter in the area and was last seen 3 Mar 2022. An Anna’s Hummingbird, a rare visitor, was photographed at a residence on Thida Rd., Thida, Independence Co 7 Dec (Janet Rochner). This bird was still present and photographed on 9 Jan (Michael Linz). A Rufous Hummingbird was at a feeder on Oakbrook Dr., Benton, Saline Co 15 Dec (Steven Vaughn). The bird was still present on 15 Jan when it was photographed by Michael Linz. A Rufous/Allen’s Hummingbird was photographed at two locations during December: at a residence in Little Rock, Pulaski Co 6 Dec (Cathy Morris); at a residence in Vilonia, Faulkner Co 23 Dec (Susan & Bob Shreck). Both birds were photographed by Michael Linz.

Cranes through Falcons

Ten Sandhill Cranes were found in an agricultural field on Vaughn Rd, Montgomery Co 31 Jan (Paul Vaughn). This is the first record of Sandhill Cranes in Montgomery Co.

A very late out of season Black-necked Stilt was discovered in a drained fish pond in Prairie Co 3 Dec (Glenn & Michelle Wyatt).

A Pacific Loon (only one or two seen annually in Arkansas) was noted on Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner Co 2 Jan (Mitchell Pruitt).

An Anhinga, rarely seen in winter, was near Sheridan, Grant Co 6 Feb (Laurette Williamson. Another Anhinga was found at Five Oaks Ag Research Center, Arkansas Co 11 Feb (Tyler Connell).

Approximately 10,000 Double-crested Cormorants were seen moving across from Delaware Bay on Lake Dardanelle, Yell Co 1 Jan (Kenny Nichols). This is perhaps the largest flock of Double-crested Cormorants reported in Arkansas.

Cattle Egret are not known to overwinter with any regularity in Arkansas; however, there were three reports this winter. The first is a CBC report of five birds in Lonoke, Lonoke Co 19 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). The second is a report of a single bird on Stadium Blvd, Jonesboro, Craighead Co 5 Jan (Jacob Wessel). Lastly, 13 birds were found in a Humnoke wetland, Lonoke Co 23 Jan (Dan Hays).

A flock of eight White Ibis was photographed at Felsenthal NWR, Lake Jack Lee, Union Co 18 Jan (Eli Wess) while a single Glossy/White-faced Ibis was photographed on a farm pond in the Ozarks, Madison Co 21 Dec (Deborah Hoskins). Seventy-five Glossy/White-faced Ibis were photographed by Ryan Askren at Five Oaks Ag Research Center, Arkansas Co 6 Feb (Tyler Connell).

A single Golden Eagle was seen soaring with three immature Bald Eagles at Big Lake WMA, Mississippi Co 7 Feb (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). A Ferruginous Hawk was observed flying around the Stuttgart Municipal Airport, Prairie Co 14 Jan (Bala Chennupati).

This winter was atypical in that it was an invasion year for Snowy Owls. The first Snowy Owl was photographed on a power unit in a rice field at the Cache River NWR, Woodruff Co 3 Jan (Jason Key). There followed numerous reports with photographs: two, male and female, flying over an agricultural field and calling east of Swifton towards Village Creek State Park, Jackson Co 28 Jan (Gary Morris); one sitting in a fallow field near HWY 226 near Craighead Co line, 6 Feb (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols); and one sitting in a field along County Road 197 Loop, Cash, Craighead Co 10 Feb (Pullen Watkins). This bird was also reported near the same location 11 Feb (Michael Linz, Patty McLean and Randy Robinson) and 12 Feb (Dan Scheiman).

A Prairie Falcon continued this winter in the Atkins bottoms, Pope Co 26 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

Crows through Tanagers

Surprisingly, 359 Fish Crows were calling around East End, Pear Orchard Subdivision, Saline Co 20 Dec (Devin & Jennifer Moon).

Two slow-to-migrate Tree Swallows were found flying about First Old River Lake, Miller Co 6 Jan (Charles Mills).

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were found overwintering in four different counties: a first for the county was one at Sunnymede Park, Ft. Smith, Sebastion Co 3 Jan (Sandy Berger); three individuals were noted at Big Lake WMA, Mallard Lake, Mississippi Co 17 Jan (Ashley Flory); a single bird in Jefferson Co 28 Jan (Stevey McCall); and a single bird on east H Ave, North Little Rock, Pulaski Co 30 Jan (Kathy Knierim).

A first record for Arkansas was a report with photos of two Eurasian Tree Sparrows at a farm feeder near Leachville, Mississippi Co 4 Feb (Jansen Hawkins). The report was confirmed 7 Feb (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols) and photographed on 8 Feb (Michael Linz). These birds most likely are migrants from St. Louis or Southern Illinois.

A very rare winter nesting of House Finches occurred on Glenridge Road, Little Rock, Pulaski Co 21 Jan (Eric McDaniel and documented by Dan Scheiman). The parents fledged a total of six in two nestings during frigid temperatures of Jan and Feb 2022. A single female Red Crossbill was observed at Warren Prairie Natural Area, Drew Co 25 Feb (Douglas Zollner).

Eight Smith’s Longspurs, rare in winter away from Stuttgart Airport, were at two locations in Kibler Bottoms, Crawford Co 4 Feb (Vivek Govind Kumar, Joe Neal).

There were two reports of unusual wintering sparrows in Arkansas. A Grasshopper Sparrow, a second record for Faulkner Co, was photographed at Old Conway Airport, 6th Street, Conway, Faulkner Co 6 Feb (Gail Miller). Snow and icy conditions brought two American Tree Sparrows to Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Benton Co 8 Feb (Jim Landrum).

A Dark-eyed Junco (Pink-sided from the Rocky Mountain region) was noted at a seed feeder at a residence in Bella Vista, Benton Co 29 Dec (Quin Warsaw).

Great-tailed Grackles continue to move into Arkansas. One hundred were reported on County Road 1650, Johnson Co 20 Dec (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

Two wintering warblers were noted in Arkansas; a late-migrating or overwintering Common Yellowthroat was photographed in a cattail marsh, Lake Sequoyah, Washington Co 4 Dec (Todd Ballinger), and five overwintering Palm Warblers were observed at Big Lake WMA, Mallard Lake, Mississippi Co 17 Jan (Ashley Flory).

Late migrating Summer Tanagers were found in three different counties: a male at Mt. Sequoyah, Skyline Drive, Fayetteville, Washington Co 4 Dec (Sara Caulk); a female at a mealworm feeder in Bella Vista, Benton Co 18 Dec (Quin & Michele Warsaw); and a female at a backyard feeder in Greene Co 28 Dec (Kim, Walt Shaw).

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 07 Feb 2024.

Photos–Arkansas Region: Winter 2021–2022

A wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Arkansas is an exceedingly rare event. This bird arrived at the home of Carole Myerdirkin 6 Dec 2021 and was last seen 11 Mar 2022. Photo © Michael Linz

An Anna’s Hummingbird, exceedingly rare in Arkansas, first appeared at the home of Janet Rochner in Thida, Independence Co on 6 Dec 2021. It was photographed here 9 Jan 2022. Photo © Michael Linz

There were several Snowy Owls that invaded Arkansas this winter. The Snowy Owl shown here was photographed sitting on a power station in a large rice field in Woodruff Co, Arkansas on 3 Jan 2022. Photo © Jason Key

There were reports of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in four different counties in Arkansas over the winter season of 2021-22. This photograph of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was taken at Big Lake WMA, Mallard Lake, Mississippi Co 17 Jan 2022. Three Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were recorded in the area. Photo © Ashley Flory

Two Eurasian Tree Sparrows, first record for Arkansas, were found at a seed feeder with a number of House Sparrows in a rural farmyard near Leachville, Mississippi Co 4 Feb 2022 by Jansen Hawkins. Others reported seeing at least one bird on 7 and 8 Feb. Photo © Michael Linz

Only the second record of a Grasshopper Sparrow in Faulkner Co, Arkansas was documented 6 Feb 2022 at the old Conway Airport by Gail Miller. Photo © Gail Miller

Low temperature and ice brought two American Tree Sparrows to Charlie Craig Hatchery, Benton Co 8 Feb 2022. This is the first report of an American Tree Sparrow in Arkansas since 2016. Photo © Jim Landrum

Five Palm Warblers were counted at Big Lake WMA, Mallard Lake, Mississippi Co on 17 Feb 2022 by Ashley Flory. Frequently, a Palm Warbler or two may be in Arkansas during the winter but five in one location is noteworthy. Photo © Ashley Flory

Overwintering Summer Tanagers occur on occasion in Arkansas. This winter there were reports from three counties. Pictured here is a female Summer Tanager at a feeder in rural Greene Co, Arkansas 28 Dec 2021. Photo © Kim & Walt Shaw