Photos: Dowitchers

Long-billed Dowitcher on May 7 at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge

This month, I was able to get a better look at long-billed and short-billed dowitchers. I consider that a great feat for me. The two species are very similar in appearance – notes you tell them apart by the short-billed dowitcher having a shorter bill (although there can be an overlap in bill size) and a slimmer underbelly. The best way to tell them apart is by their call.

Short-billed Dowitcher on May 14 at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge

Photos: Birding around Conway/Mayflowers

Prairie Warbler

On Sunday, I decided to revisit the Hendrix Creek Preserve in Conway to find the visiting rare Limpkin, and ended up stopping in Mayflower on my way home to tour through Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area, Lake Conway and Camp Robinson Special Use Area.

It was a birdy trip with my most exciting sight being the above Prairie Warbler. I’ve heard them before but it was the first time I was able to see and then photograph one. Here are a few others found:

Photos: Migration Craziness


My birding trips have picked up recently. I’ve found a birding buddy to go on weekly birding trips to different parts of the state, and we’ve been taking advantage of the current bird migrations to see as many birds as we can. Here’s a few of what we have seen so far:

I also spotted this adorable turtle.

Photos: Identifying Falcons

Prairie Falcon

Earlier this year, my winter bird to find was the Prarie Falcon. It look me months but I finally spotted the above one on February 11 in Atkins Bottoms. Prairie Falcons are typically found more west of Arkansas; the non breeding season has them in the states bordering Arkansas to the west. Several are still typically found in Arkansas each year – with the one photographed being reported at Atkins Bottoms off and on for weeks.

I got lucky. I just happened to spot it flying toward me before it disappeared. A fellow birder who was just minutes away from me could not relocate it.

My next goal was to find a Peregrine Falcon. No such luck. That is until May 16 when I got an email from an eBird reviewer. A person looking through eBird photos had reported my photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk taken on May 1 at Alcoa Bottoms in Clark County. What was wrong with the photo? Well, it wasn’t a Red-shouldered Hawk. It was a Peregrine Falcon.

Peregrine Falcon

So, basically, I found my target bird without even realizing it. Peregrine Falcons are found in Arkansas during migration season. Did you know they can fly up to 25-34 mph when traveling and up to 69 mph when pursuing prey? The falcon can be found on all continents except Antartica, and was also eradicated from eastern North America due to pesticide poisoning. Recovery efforts have allowed the falcons to make a incredible rebound, according to

Photo: American Bittern

The American Bittern has been my goal bird for 2023. And for weeks I kept missing it despite other birders seeing it just minutes before or after I visited a spot. Heck, a person I bird with spotted one flying across the road while in the same car as me. I saw it land in the field but I did not get a good enough view of it for the sighting to count (at least for me). That bittern landed by another vehicle of birders who confirmed its identity.

I finally spotted the above American Bittern earlier tonight. It was an especially great sighting because it happened on my 500th day of submitting a daily eBird checklist.

American Bitterns are heard more often than seen, and pass through Arkansas during migration, according to Another birder actually told me to not expect to get a photo of one because they are hard to spot, much less photograph. The American Bittern is found in marsh areas, and typically are found with their necks stretched and bill pointed upward (which helps them hide better among the reeds they are usually found in). Mine was found on the edge of a ditch at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge in the same spot that other birders reported finding one in several times over the past few weeks.

Now that I’ve found and photographed an American Bittern, I haven’t decided what my next goal bird will be.

Photos: Alcoa Bottoms

Northern Waterthrush

I recently visited Alcoa Bottoms near Arkadelphia to see if the Couch’s Kingbird was still there. It wasn’t. But here’s a highlight of what I did find, including my first Northern Waterthrush.

Photos: Migration Season

Lark Bunting

I’ve been heavily birding the past few weekends to take advantage of the birds passing through Arkansas. And I’ve gotten lucky with my sightings so far. This past weekend, a Lark Bunting was spotted in Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. Luckily, I was able to head that way about an hour or two after it was first reported. Boy, am I glad I headed that way. I went back the next morning and the bird could not be refound.

Lark Buntings are not common for Arkansas, but more to the mid-west of us. Think Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and moving up from there to parts of North Dakota, Montana, and Canada during the breeding season. Nonbreeding season is spent in Central Arkansas and parts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Here are a few other birds – and animals – I was excited to find:

Swamp Rabbit
Western Kingbird

Photos: Lollie Bottoms

Lark Sparrow

One bird I’ve wanted to see this year has been the Lark Sparrow. Lark Sparrows, which have a harlequin facial pattern and white tail spots, breed in Arkansas. I finally saw several Lark Sparrows on Sunday when I joined five other birders to visit Lollie Bottoms near Mayflower and Conway. Lollie Bottoms winds through agricultural fields and the area circling the Conway airport. It’s an eBird hotspot during winter and the spring/fall migration.

The trip turned out to be extremely birdy with us finding 433 birds of 45 different species. Some firsts for me were Brewer’s Blackbirds and Upland Sandpipers. We thought we’d found a Piping Plover, which would have been another first but it later turned out to be a Semipalmated Plover instead. I also saw some birds I don’t see often like a Lincoln’s Sparrow, a Sedge Wren and a Warbling Vireo. The Warbling Vireo was actually found in a spot that we typically don’t expect to find one so that was interesting. The Warbling Vireo is typically found in deciduous forest, and we found our bird in a patch of trees/brush on the corner of an agricultural field.

Warbling Vireo

Photos: Kibler Bottoms

Swainson’s Hawk

Saturday marked my first time to Kibler Bottoms in Crawford County. Kibler Bottoms is a roughly loop drive that goes south into agriculture fields in the bottoms of the Arkansas river Valley.

While there, I got my first glimpses of Swainson’s Hawks. The three Swainson’s Hawks we found were in adult light morph, meaning they had darker heads, white on the upper part of the underwings. The underwings were darker moving down and out. Typically found in grasslands, range maps on show they are typically found in the United States during breeding season. Their breeding season range is more west of Arkansas, but I’m told Kibler Bottoms is a great place to spot them around this time in Arkansas.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Another rare bird found was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that foraged in a field alongside American Golden-Plovers, a Horned Lark. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was also sitting in the field nearby. The migration range of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper just passes through western Arkansas so we didn’t expect to see one Saturday. This sandpiper is typically found in dry, grassy habitats according to They nest only in the High Arctic of northernmost Alaska and Canada and then migrate to South America.

Overall, we found 218 birds of 24 species. Here’s photos of some of the other birds spotted:

Photo: Forster’s Tern

We recently discovered 19 Forster’s Terns at Boyd Point Water Treatment Plant during a recent birding field trip with a local Audubon society. Forster’s Terns are found in Arkansas during the migration season, and are medium-sized terns with a longer tail and, in nonbreeding plumage, a black eye patch (which we saw during this sighting). The terns were mixed in with Bonaparte’s Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls.

Forster’s Tern along with Bonaparte’s Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls