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‘Bird Notes’ Category

  1. Creek Walking

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    July 17, 2011 by Joseph C. Neal

    In early July there are serious questions about moisture. All is wilt in my yard. But as I head toward the Buffalo River’s upper valley, the sun is an iridescent orange mass pulsating pinks through a jagged green tree canopy, moisture-laden blue clouds scattered above. A cardinal sings fresh and new at the rise.

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  2. Lost Between the Lines

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    June 30, 2011 by Joseph C. Neal

    If you have some vacation time this summer, it’s inexpensive and not so far up to Pea Ridge National Military Park northeast of Rogers. There’s lots of pioneer and Civil War history and for me, productive birding. My first stop is along Sugar Creek, clear water flowing over attractive yellowish-red chert rubble. An Acadian Flycatcher gives the PIZ-ZA! call. When I stop to see it, I notice a snapping turtle up on a high sandbar where it has dug a hole and appears to be laying eggs. Union soldiers expected attack from Confederates, so they constructed protective works of log, soil, and rock on the ridge overlooking Sugar Creek. I park, and from a thicket comes the song of a Kentucky Warbler. Soldiers cut big virgin hardwoods and made them into breastworks. Today, towering white oaks re-own the place, as do Red-eyed Vireos. And the trail? Water has been busy eroding it away. Roots are pushing up through asphalt. Leaf-cup and wild hydrangea are blooming along trail sides, with patches of Christmas fern. Shady bare spots are colonized by bottlebrush grasses. A Louisiana Waterthrush walks and bobs on the once battlefield. Along Arkansas 72, open fields stretch east and west …

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  3. The Mother Ship Has Landed, or Something

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    June 18, 2011 by Joseph C. Neal

    Have you been hearing a powerful low hum, like the mother ship has landed, unseen? In waves of rising and falling, a shrill hiss has joined hum. It’s like the earth has taken on new breathing.

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  4. Avocet in Northwest Arkansas

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    June 5, 2011 by Joseph C. Neal

    From the perspective of those interested in birds, one of the gifts of living in northwest Arkansas is contained in that word “West.” We are not in the Great American West, exactly, but neither are we in the true East. Speaking biologically, we are at a crossroads.

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  5. Early Birds

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    March 12, 2011 by wcobserver

    By Joe Neal Spring is already here, bird-wise. I had my first Fish Crow on February 15. It flew over giving it’s soft — and to my ear southern-accented —  AH-AH. We have two crow species here: American Crow, present all year, and Fish Crow that heads south for the winter, and only returning when daffodils push up first green. Fish Crows beat daffodil flowers this year. American Woodcocks also migrate north during that part of the year we deem winter. At dusk on February 19 I relaxed in an open field with others from Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society and waited for the opening of intricate male woodcock sky dances performed for the females. As light faded, we had over-flights by Wood Ducks, just returned to the Ozarks. I slapped my first mosquito of the season. Chorus frogs and spring peepers were tuned up in pools left over from the big snow. Then, here came the woodcocks! As we get into March my early bird list includes Ozark arrivals of Black-and-white Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Louisiana Waterthrush. I find myself drawn especially to Devil’s Den State Park, which is something of a magnet for these early birds. You don’t have …

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  6. Pink Flamingoes And Global Warming

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    February 24, 2011 by wcobserver

    During my birding peregrinations I recently came across a pink flamingo standing in a yard. It had been through our snow and ice. At one point it exhibited a pretty good pile of white on its back. I first looked it over with my binoculars, then with my spotting scope. Flamingo! Wow! It wasn’t the first one I had ever seen. When I showed my friend Amy the picture included with this article, she dryly observed that global warming had advanced quite a bit when we have flamingoes right here in the land of eternal snow. The Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber, nests in the Bahamas, Cuba and in the Yucatan and is a rare visitor in Florida. But Winslow, West Fork and northwest Arkansas are not Florida, not the West Indies, and certainly not on a snowy day in February. It might as well be an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Likely some folks have driven right by that same yard and not noticed – or so I thought. One morning I walk into the coffee shop and all eyes are upon me. It’s like they’ve been waiting. Over the years we have hashed over the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. They consider it an upland …

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  7. New Year’s Thoughts About Redbirds

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    January 16, 2011 by wcobserver

    By Joe Neal I receive regular mailings from private organizations and government agencies with lists of rare birds, rare mammals, rare butterflies, rare snails, etc. They are long, fine print columns with common names, Latin binomials, places where the few remaining creatures are still found. These lists contain hundreds and sometimes thousands of names of wild creatures who did nothing to deserve their fate. Since we are at the start of a new year, let me share an example: the prized redbirds in your yard. As rare and endangered, it could appear on a future list as Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis); small local population remains in West Fork, Washington County, Arkansas. If you are of a Christian mind, you operate on the assumption that God put redbirds on the earth for good cause – even if we can’t always discern the reason – and that we still have redbirds because Noah saw fit to bring them two-by-two into his ark, prior to the great flood. On the other hand, if you are more of a scientific turn of mind with or without religion, you might assume that as creatures on the earth evolved one of them, our prized redbird, took …

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