This morning Vivek Kumar and I checked out Stump and Chesney Prairies (Siloam Springs) from about 6:50am until 10:30am.
Highlights from Stump: Bell's Vireo (at least one, possibly up to three spotted by Vivek), flyover Bobolink, Loggerhead Shrike (getting chased by the vireos), and two Dickcissel nests found! This officially marks the start of my summer field work, although I am still doing spring transect surveys. I did hear Bell's Vireo occasionally near Stump last summer, so I imagine they nest there.
Highlights from Chesney: Swainson's Hawk (pair flying and calling over riparian zone, including one bird carrying sticks in her talons (nesting material?)), Sedge Wren (1 singing), Sora (1), Olive-sided Flycatcher (1), and two more Dickcissel nests. This puts me at about a tenth of what I found last year (43), and this is only the first day. We spotted another Swainson's Hawk on the north side of Highway 412 a few miles east of Siloam Springs.
Savannah Sparrows were present at both Stump and Chesney. The Dickcissels were nest building, so no eggs or chicks yet. Some were close to complete, so there should be at least one egg laid within the next few days.
While working at Wild Birds Unlimited on Sunday, a customer came in excitedly telling me that his mom had a tanager visit her feeder just a few days prior (around May 3 I'm guessing). Needless to say I was a bit surprised when he showed me a photo his mom took, not of a Scarlet or Summer, but of a male WESTERN Tanager! This was off of Broyles Avenue in Fayetteville. I presume that it is gone by now, although I wonder if it was the same one Karyn Dillard's son had visiting his feeders?
On May 4 a field volunteer and I kicked up a Le Conte's Sparrow at Callie's Prairie (Springdale). Although late, it is not absurdly so, as there are records from May 2, 3, and 11 from previous years. I got good looks, and it's from a spot where I regularly flush one during my transect surveys. A couple birders and I briefly searched the area again on May 6 and did not find any.
Lastly, I observed a pair Sharp-shinned Hawks on April 20 at Callie's Prairie. The both flew into a tree together and never acted aggressively toward each other. There was a clear size difference, and when I first saw the male I thought it was a Blue Jay. Albeit backlit, I could still make out the diminutive and circular head shape (compared to the more "loggerhead" and larger head shape of a Cooper's Hawk). The female was perched and preening while the male would make a short flight to perch in an adjacent tree, then to another adjacent tree, then fly back to near where the female was. Looking through Arkansas spring/summer records, the majority indicate nesting birds. I have been to Callie's Prairie several times since and have not seen them, but I still suspect that they could be nesting. So if you're out there, keep your eyes out for them!
If you are at Woolsey, Stump, or Chesney Prairies, keep your eye out for nesting dickcissels. If you see one, take detailed notes and take a GPS coordinate and let me know. But please give the birds space so that they don't abandon their nests. If you see any tall flags, keep your distance, as these may be active nests that I have already found. If you have any questions on them, or would like to join me sometime in the field, feel free to contact me. Thanks!