For the past few days now, a Red-necked Grebe has been spotted at the city park in Jonesboro, Ark. Today marked my fourth visit to find this rare-to-Arkansas grebe. It was actually becoming frustrating because people would see it right before and right after I was there – I just wouldn’t see it.
This visit started off on a good note. I parmed near the entrance to the park with the plan to walk around the lake and not leave until I saw it or it got dark. With minutes, I found Eastern Bluebirds and Yellow-rumped Warblers flinging in the trees overhead while Mallards, Canada Geese and American Coots scrambled after the food a family was tossing to them. I walked the gravel trail along the water for a minute or two to discover Ruddy Ducks in the water and a Red-breasted Nuthatch in a nearby tree.
Immediately after these sightings, I found a Horned Grebe. This grebe is common in the state during its non breeding season especially in October when it’s migrating, according to All About Birds.
I sat and watched the Horned Grebe for a little bit before deciding to move on. But, I only took a few steps before I saw a water bird fly in just ahead of me. It was the Red-necked Grebe and it swam along the shoreline toward me so I just sat back down.
Red-necked Grebes are not common to most of the United States – their range crosses a little over the nation’s northern border, according to All About Birds. They typically are found in Canada and Alaska. The last time one was found in Arkansas was two years ago, and this is probably the 11th time one has been spotted in the state.
I was at the park for 30 minutes max, but it turned out highly successful.
I was taking a photo of a Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs (pictured at the bottom of the above photo) when a Sora casually walked out of the rice and began walking around. I definitely wasn’t expecting that to happen. I was snapping photos when, all of a sudden, a second one appears.
Soras are a secretive marsh bird that can be found throughout the United States at various points in the year, according to AllAboutBirds.org. They can be found in Arkansas during migration season. However, they aren’t expected to be sighted at the moment in Arkansas.
Today’s a state holiday and we’re snowed in. So, it was the perfect day to birdwatch. We had 23 total bird species visit our feeders today – and that doesn’t include some birds we typically see like the American Crow and White-breasted Nuthatch (both were present yesterday but not today 🤷🏼♀️). Here’s a few of my favorite visitors today:
No, I didn’t spend all day simply watching my feeders. There was also tax work and a walk around the neighborhood. I’ll let you guess which one was my favorite.
Tonight, we headed out to a nearby wildlife management area to get a better glimpse of the Christmas Star (which is when Jupiter and Saturn are really close in the sky, appearing as if they are one shiny, single star).
I finally saw my first owl. Well, actually it was three Great Horned Owls — a mother and two juveniles nesting near the top of a pine tree. I visited the area twice, taking pictures from across the street before I finally saw the first baby. I was pretty excited.
Great Horned Owls are common to the United States year-round. However, it was still my first time to clearly see an owl in the wild. I visited the nest mid-morning and late afternoon and, surprisingly, the mid-morning visit yielded the best results.
After the sighting, I had to go to allaboutbirds.org to read up on the Great Horned Owl. It was neat to learn that it is the “only animal that regularly eats skunks” and that they often take large prey, such as other owls, nesting Osprey and falcons.
The Great Horned Owl is also regularly harassed by flocks of American Crows that mob owls and “yell” at them for hours. According to allaboutbirds.org, “the enmity of the crows is well earned, however, as the owl is probably the most important predator on adult crows and nestlings.”
Here’s some more pictures of the Great Horned Owl nest:
I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.