The 120th CBC in Arkansas

Weather is always a factor, but Arkansas has had two years in-a-row of record mild years.  Only 14% of the counts were moderately impacted by fog or drought and 3% were severely impacted by fog.  Overall 17% of the counts were impacted in some form, which was 17% below the 13-year average. 

In Arkansas 29 counts were submitted, with 12 counts having more than 90 species.  Holla Bend N.W.R. (117), Lake Dardanelle (115), Pine Bluff (113), Arkadelphia (111), Bayou DeView (111), Lake Georgia Pacific-Felsenthal N.W.R. (109), Lonoke (105), Hot Springs N.P. (104), Conway (100), White River N.W.R. (101), Little Rock (96), and Fayetteville (91).  The high species count of 117, was average.  Jonesboro (79), Lake Georgia Pacific-Felsenthal N.W.R. (109), and Sylamore Ranger District (70) set new species highs.  Bentonville-Bella Vista-Centerton had the most new or unusual species (9) and Mississippi River S.P. had the most species high counts (17).  Holla Bend N.W.R. had the most hours (76.3) and Fayetteville had the most observers (36).  The 172 species statewide was seven species above average.

The numbers for the following bird highlights are normalized by dividing by the party hours.  The best number of species (130) occurred 12/31-1/5.  The best number of individuals (398,068) occurred 12/31-1/5.  Statewide-total number of individuals (846,594) was 21% below the average and the worst in 10 years.  The best number of species occurred in the Mount Magazine area, followed by Pine country of the South Central Plains and the Grand Prairie eco-regions.  The best number of individuals occurred in the Arkansas River valley/hills, followed by the Grand Prairie and the Mississippi River Alluvial Plain/Crowley’s Ridge eco-regions.  For the 2nd year in-a-row Lake Dardanelle had the most individuals (293,138). 

In the broad groups, geese set a record last year, followed by a 47% reduction this year, but was still the tenth best flight of 67 years; dabblers had their 26th best flight; divers had their 29th best flight; semi-hardy waterbirds were 216% above average and had their 6th best flight; raptors had their 6th best flight; shorebirds had their 21st best flight; gulls were +412% and have had two record years in the last four years; semi-hardy lingerers had their best flight in 26 years and their 17th best numbers; grassland species had their 65th worst flight; irruptives were –54%, had their worst flight in 17 years and 58th worst numbers; blackbirds were -96% and had their 45th worst flight; western species were +114% and had their 7th best flight; frugivores had their 56th worst flight; and upland game-birds had their worst flight in nine years and the lowest numbers in 66 years.

Setting new 67-year highs were Greater White-fronted Goose (5th record high in nine years); Common Merganser; Red-shouldered Hawk (5th record high in thirteen years); Virginia Rail (2nd record high in six years); Ring-billed Gull (2nd record high in four years); White-winged Dove (4 record highs in six years); Red-bellied Woodpecker (5 record highs in six years); Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Downy Woodpecker; Pileated Woodpecker; Eastern Phoebe; the wrens put in a strong showing with Carolina Wren setting two record highs in-a-row, as well as House, Marsh and Sedge all setting record highs; and Great-tailed Grackle was missed last year and now set a record.

Blue Jay had their strongest flight in 15 years; Brown Creeper was 61% above average, has had two strong years in-a-row and had the best flight in 14 years; Ruby-crowned Kinglet had their best flight in 10 years; Pine Warbler had their best flight in 24 years; Eastern Towhees was +36% and had their best flight in 44 years; and Field Sparrows were 21% below average, but had their best flight in 12 years; 

Meanwhile, a 67-year low was set by Loggerhead Shrike (For the 5th year in the last six years. A one year decline of 25% and a six year decline of 59%)

Ring-necked Duck was 38% below average and had the worst flight in 15 years; European Starling was -98% and had the worst flight in 12 years; Dark-eyed Junco was -32% and had the worst flight in 16 years; Lapland Longspur was -97% and had the worst flight in 27 years; and Brewer’s Blackbird was -88% & had the worst flight in 12 years.    

Patterns within species of interest were:  Bonaparte’s Gull had three strong years followed by this year’s 65% decline; woodpeckers – four species set record highs and Red-headed had their best flight in 17 years and Hairy set a record high last year, followed by a strong flight this year. The only “woodpecker” that showed a small decline was Yellow-shafted Flicker; Blue-headed Vireo set two records in-a-row and was followed this year by a strong flight; and Common Yellowthroat set a record last year and followed it with a strong flight this year. 

Irruptives, normalized by party hours:  Cedar Waxwings had their sixth best flight in 67 years; Red-breasted Nuthatch had a median flight; Red Crossbill was found on only two counts but was the sixth best flight in 19 years; Purple Finch had their 65th worst year of 67 years; and Pine Siskin had a median flight.

The 120th CBC missed only one common/uncommon occurring species – American Black Duck (Missed in ten of 67 years, with five misses in the last 12 years).

Species found only on one count included:  Inca Dove and American Tree Sparrow (Arkadelphia); American Bittern and Western Sandpiper (Bayou DeView); Bewick’s Wren and Nashville Warbler (Bella Vista-Bentonville-Centerton); Krider’s Red-tailed Hawk (Big Lake N.W.R.); American Redstart (Fayetteville); White-winged Dove (Fort Smith-Moffett); Pacific Loon and Lark Sparrow (Hot Springs N.P.); Rock Wren and Yellow Warbler (Holla Bend N.W.R.); Mute Swan (Jonesboro); Lesser Black-backed Gull (Lake Dardanelle); Surf Scoter and Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Lake Georgia Pacific-Felsenthal N.W.R.); Rufous Hummingbird (Little Rock); Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitcher and Tree Swallow (Lonoke); Little Blue Heron (Mississippi River S.P.); Tropical Kingbird (Pine Bluff); and Golden Eagle (Sylamore Ranger District).

Species found only on two counts included:  Eared Grebe, Osprey, and White-eyed Vireo (Arkadelphia); Clay-colored Sparrow and Harris’s Sparrow (Bella Vista-Bentonville-Centerton); Palm Warbler (Conway); Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Harris’s Sparrow (Fayetteville); Common Merganser Holla Bend N.W.R.; Red-throated Loon (Hot Springs N.P.); Trumpeter Swan (Hot Springs Village); Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk and Lesser Yellowlegs (Jonesboro); Eared Grebe and Great-tailed Grackle (Lake Dardanelle); Red-throated Loon, American Woodcock, Palm Warbler, and Red Crossbill (Lake Georgia Pacific-Felsenthal N.W.R.; White-eyed Vireo (Little Rock); Trumpeter Swan and Cattle Egret (Lonoke); Common Merganser (Mountain Home); American Woodcock (Pine Bluff); Red Crossbill (Sylamore Ranger District; Great-tailed Grackle (Texarkana); Osprey (Wapanocca N.W.R.); Cattle Egret, Glossy/White-faced Ibis, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Forster’s Tern (White River N.W.R.). 

In a normal year the Nashville Warbler at Bella Vista-Bentonville-Centerton, or the Yellow Warbler at Holla Bend N.W.R. or the American Redstart at Fayetteville would be great birds.  But this was an exceptional year with all the above being present and the first Arkansas state record Tropical Kingbird at Pine Bluff being the bird of-the-year.

This year’s sponsors were The Audubon Society of Central AR; Buffalo River Partners Inc.; City of Hot Springs; The Disorganized Bird Club; Felsenthal N.W.R.; Friends of Holla Bend N.W.R.; Garland County Audubon; Holla Bend N.W.R.; Hot Springs N.P.; Hot Springs Village Audubon; Lake Catherine S.P.; Lake Ouachita S.P.; Mississippi River S.P.; Mount Magazine S.P.; North Central AR Audubon Society; NorthWest AR Audubon Society; Ouachita-Caddo Bird Club; Ozark-St. Francis N.Fs.; Tenn. Ornithological Society; Texarkana Audubon Society; Three Rivers Audubon Society; and Village Creek S.P.       

It can never be said frequently enough:  All the compilers, co-compilers and volunteers deserve a big “THANK YOU” for your hard work!

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.