Some Good in an Ill Wind

Fayetteville CBC, 2015

The wind blew ill and mostly warm (50s) all day across Fayetteville CBC v. 2015, 20 MPH, gusts to 30. Find wind breaks or no birds. That said, we broke 91 species count day. We tallied up at the new home of Doug and Elizabeth James. Doug, who originated this count in 1961, reported results for himself and Liz on their neighborhood survey.

Reading Mitchell’s post about his waterfowl trip yesterday in northeastern Arkansas reminds me he wasn’t in Ozark forested upland habitats. His thousands of geese and ducks compare to our 30 hard working volunteers on yesterday’s Fayetteville Christmas Bird Count. We saw … tah dah …500 TOTAL waterbirds. We were just thrilled to pieces that Andy Scaboo and party came up with harriers (2), Kim Smith and party Loggerhead Shrike (1).

Stand-out surprises included a Spotted Sandpiper at the Nolan Wastewater Treatment Plant, Blue-winged Teal (3) at Lake Elmdale, a Gray Catbird in dense thickets of invasive Amur Honeysuckle and Common Privet, and a Summer Tanager on Haskell Heights a few blocks from the University Campus, with a view of the nosebleed seats at Razorback Stadium.

Song Sparrow Wilson Springs Dec 20, 2015
Song sparrow

Fayetteville CBC has never tallied waterfowl like northeastern Arkansas and never will, even if “Global Warming” suddenly lurches into “Little Ice Age.” Back in olden days, when we had winter, we would have picked up another seven waterfowl species, plus quite a few on down through avian phylogeny, like Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs.

Savannah Sparrow University farm Dec 20, 2015
Savannah sparrow

My old fiend Eleanor Johnson used to say, “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody some good.” As warming swamps humanity’s global lowlands and displaces hundreds of millions of people, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are spending more “winter” in the Ozarks. Yesterday’s 20 wasn’t our highest, but we’d had nothing remotely comparable until the late 1990s.

Our first Summer Tanager was a count week bird in 2002. Then in several subsequent years, we photographed single birds coming to the Caulk’s suet feeder on Mt Sequoyah. Then on December 19 –Twas the Day Before CBC — Don Steinkraus posted photographs on facebook of a Summer Tanager near Wilson Park in central Fayetteville.





Orange-crowned Warbler Fayetteville Dec 20, 2015
Orange-crowned warbler

Meanwhile, Mike Mlodinow had found one at Cave Springs — outside the count circle, but underscoring tanager-wise, something was up. Jane Steinkraus agreed to watch the feeder December 20. Then yesterday, birding-out-of-wind-gust places, Richard Stauffacher, Barry Bennett and I came to a leafless tree bathed in afternoon sunlight. Barry spotted a distinctly yellow bird that generously remained for photos
showing that big yellow bill with a wasp!

Summer Tanager Haskell Heights Dec 20, 2015-1
Summer tanager

Finally, I received a great Christmas gift from party leader Joan Reynolds — Ozark Natural Science Center’s brand new Northern Saw-whet Owl shirt. A Mitchell Pruitt original and a work of avian art! It results from Mitchell’s Honors Thesis project, directed by another party leader and former count compiler Kim Smith.

If you snooze, you lose: better order one before they are all gone. I was so pleased I pulled it on and wore it to bed.

Joe Neal

Cooper's Hawk Fayetteville Dec 20, 2015-6
Cooper’s hawk


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