Date: 9/24/18 3:57 am
From: Joseph C. Neal <joeneal...>
Indigo Buntings (8) in that amazing plumage of rich brown mixed with blue were bathing in a mud puddle yesterday on a lightly traveled, graded county road immediately east of Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. I turned sideways in the road and observed for 2-hours (no traffic). Also watched a couple of other puddles on the series of graded roads. Birds were bathing in puddles or foraging in open fields and shrubs: Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Palm Warbler (brown, western form), Common Yellowthroat, Wilsonís Warbler, and Canada Warbler. Others: Summer Tanager, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Phoebe, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Clay-colored Sparrow, Gray Catbird, House Wren, etc.

Clay-colored Sparrow was a first of season for me. It made repeated trips to bathe in the puddle.

Baltimore Oriole exhibited serious bill damage. In fact, it seemed to have no bill past the base.

Birds attracted to this most excellent mud puddle came as welcome consolation. Earlier in the day, Iíd been at Craig State Fish Hatchery in Centerton a few miles north. Second half of September has been a peak period for Sora migration in past years. I did see a Sora, but it was dead on the road just east of the hatchery. As our native seasonal wetlands shrink due to rapid development for housing, roads, schools, and businesses, Soras arriving here in migration are exposed to all manner of new hazards.

I think a reasonable case can be made that our human communities benefit by willingly and deliberately sharing Earth with creatures like Soras. Also, harm to Soras is harm to us. Sora dead on a road is a gruesome and profound message concerning increasing damaged and disappearing spring-fed seasonal wetlands.

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