Arkansas Region: Winter 2022–2023

Winter 2022–2023: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Lyndal York
lrbluejay@gmail.com

Recommended citation:

York, L. 2023. Winter 2022–2023: Arkansas Region. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gOg> North American Birds.

Seasonal highlights include: Dark Ross’s Geese, Limpkin, Short-billed Gull, American Tree Sparrow, Spotted Towhee.

Geese through Limpkins

Six dark morph Ross’s Geese were counted among a group of 23,000 Ross’s Geese during the Pine Bluff CBC, Jefferson Co 28 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). Perhaps this is the largest number of Ross’s Geese observed at one location in the U.S.

The report of two immature Trumpeter Swans at Spring Lake, Garland Co 6 Jan (Ashlyn McKayla Ohm) is a first for that county.  Despite the fact that Tundra Swans are rare in Arkansas, ten were observed in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 28 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). Two additional Tundra Swans were found at the Clay Road Pond, White Co 13 Jan (Michael Linz, Patty McLean) while one was found on the East Pond, Cleburne Co 14 Jan (Heather & Tony Cook).

There were several additional rare ducks reported for the winter season. Two Surf Scoters, male and female, were observed at Norfork Lake, Quarry Park & Campground, Baxter Co 8 Dec (Heather & Tony Cook) and one Surf Scoter at Lake Dardanelle, Inner Delaware Bay, Logan Co 6 Jan (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).  The extremely cold weather in December brought three Long-tailed Ducks to Arkansas: at Lake Dardanelle, Delaware Recreation Area, Yell Co 5 Jan (Roger Massey); at Lake Dardanelle, Inner Delaware Bay, two females, Logan Co 7 Jan (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols, Steve Warmack, Clay Hooten); and at Anderson’s Minnow Farm, Lonoke Co 25 Jan (Robert & Anne Watson).

Rare wintering Common Mergansers were reported at four different locations: one bird at Lake Fayetteville, Mulhollan Blind, Washington Co 18 Dec (Kevin Krajcir, Robin Buff, Bill Rosser, Heather & Tony Cook); an astounding eight males and three females at Lake Dardanelle, Logan Co 24 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols); three birds at Lake Elmdale, Washington Co 26 Dec (Leslie Ford); and two birds at Lake Dardanelle, Delaware Recreation Area, Yell Co 5 Jan (Roger Massey).

Red-breasted Mergansers were found at four different locations: at Sunnymede Park, Ft. Smith, Sebastian Co 10 Dec (Jerry Wofford); at Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner Co 11 Dec (Michael Linz, Patty McLean); a pair at Lake Dardanelle, Pope Co 24 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols); and four birds at Frog Bayou WMA, Crawford Co 28 Dec (Sandy Berger).

Only one unusual dove species was observed: three Inca Doves in a yard at McNeil, Columbia Co 16 Dec (Katheryn Watson).

Limpkins continued into the winter at the Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc WMA, Hempstead Co 16 Oct (Robert Holt); 24 Oct (Keith McFaul, Charles Mills); and 27 Dec (Timothy White). An additional Limpkin was spotted near the Big Creek Site 21 Reservoir, Jonesboro, Craighead Co 1 Feb (Steven Mullen).

Sandpipers Through Hawks

A Spotted Sandpiper was found in frigid conditions with temperatures in the single digits and 20 mph winds at the Dardanelle Dam riprap, Pope Co 23 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

Very rare in Arkansas, a Black-legged Kittiwake in first winter plumage was photographed at Dardanelle Rock Natural Area, Riverview Recreation Area, Yell Co 23 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

And adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, first winter plumage was discovered at Dardanelle Rock Natural Area, Riverview Recreation Area, on 16 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls in first winter plumage were present at the same location 23 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

An exceedingly rare Short-billed Gull was photographed at the Dardanelle Rock Natural Area, Riverview Recreation Area, Yell Co 29 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols). This is only the second record for this species in Arkansas. About a month later another Short-billed Gull, third state record, was found and photographed at Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner Co 2 Feb (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

Surprisingly, an Anhinga, a common summer resident in South Arkansas, was found in the dead of winter at Spirit Lake, Lafayette Co 24 Dec (Jeremy Chamberlain, Heather Laferte). Also, unusual were ten adult and ten subadult plumaged Black-crowned Night-Herons roosting in a small cypress swamp north of Bob Long Road, Lonoke Co 18 Dec (Kenny & LaDonna Nichols).

An over-wintering Osprey was seen catching fish in a farm pond at Brookhill Ranch, Garland Co 19 Jan (Jeri & Mario Garcia).

Golden Eagles were reported on four occasions: at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie WMA, Hempstead Co 6 Jan (Paul Lowery); at Chaney Road; about 2 miles east of Highway 15, Lonoke Co 16 Jan (Glenn Wyatt); and twice at Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 26 Jan (Ronald Duval), and 9 Feb (Eric Monaghen).

A very dark subspecies of the Red-tailed Hawk was reported on Wet Prairie Road, Benton Co 25 Jan (Betty Evans, Heather Cook).

Flickers Through Grosbeaks

A Red-Shafted (western morph) Northern Flicker was noted at Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington Co 25 Dec (Todd Ballinger, Michael Slay, Gramm Bertram).

A Merlin was sighted in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 19 Feb (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

Continuing during the winter for several years was a Prairie Falcon in the Atkins Bottoms, Pope Co 19 Feb (Michael Linz, Patty McLean).

Surprisingly in an urban area was a rare Vermilion Flycatcher in Don Hughes Park, Pulaski Co 28 Feb (Robert & Christine Becker).

An over-wintering Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was spotted at Cook’s Landing, Little Rock, Pulaski Co 17 Dec (Stephanie Sexton, Lance Runion.

A Gray Catbird was in a backyard in Fayetteville, Washington Co 30 Jan (Mike & Christy Slay).

The winter’s snow and ice brought two American Tree Sparrows to Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington Co 16 Dec (Mitchell Pruitt). Five Smith’s Longspurs were photographed at the Magnolia Municipal Airport, Columbia Co 19 Dec (Jeremy Chamberlain). This is the first report of Smith’s Longspurs in Columbia Co.  Henslow’s Sparrows are not usually found in NW Arkansas during the winter; however, one was reported at the Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington Co 8 Jan (Taylor Long).

Spotted Towhees were reported in three different locations this winter: on Blue Hole Road, White Co 3 Dec (Michael Linz, Patty McLean); on Bracebridge Street, Bentonville, Benton Co 31 Jan (Bobbi Bradford); and about 3.5 miles from Butterfield on Gourdneck Valley Road, Hot Spring Co 19 Feb (Cindy Franklin).

Rarely seen in Arkansas was an Evening Grosbeak in a yard on W. War Eagle Road, Springdale, Washington Co 1 Dec (Kevin Inkster).

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 07 Feb 2024.

Photos–Arkansas Region: Winter 2022–2023

Six very rare blue morph Ross’s Geese were photographed while feeding with about 23,000 Ross’s Geese in area 6 of the Pine Bluff CBC, Jefferson Co on 28 Dec 2022. This is the largest flock of Ross’s Geese recorded in Arkansas. Photo © Kenny Nichols

Two very rare Limpkins were photographed at Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc WMA, Hempstead Co, Arkansas on 16 Oct 2022. One Limpkin was still at this site on 28 Dec. Photo © Robert Holt

A Black-legged Kittiwake, rarely seen in Arkansas, was photographed on 16 Dec 2022 at Dardanelle Rock Natural Area/Riverview Recreation Area, Yell Co. The bird was in first winter plumage. Photo © Kenny Nichols

A Short-billed Gull was found by Kenny and LaDonna Nichols resting on the beach with Ring-billed Gulls at Dardanelle Rock Natural Area/Riverview Recreation Area, Yell Co, Arkansas on 29 Dec 2022. This is only the second record of this species in Arkansas. Photo © Tammy Block

A Short-billed Gull was photographed by Michael Linz and Patty McLean resting on the beach with Ring-billed Gulls at Beaverfork Lake, Faulkner Co 3 Feb 2023. This is the third record for this species in Arkansas. Photo © Michael Linz

Two American Tree Sparrows were found among five Field Sparrows after an ice/snow storm at Woolsey Wet Prairie, Washington Co 16 Dec 2022. Before last February’s report, the last reported American Tree Sparrow in Arkansas was in the winter of 2016. Photo © Mitchell Pruitt

A Spotted Towhee, occasionally seen in winter, was found along Blue Hole Road, White Co, Arkansas 3 Dec 2022. This year two additional Spotted Towhees were reported from Benton and Hot Spring Counties. Photo © Michael Linz