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Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Neal’

  1. Season of Migrants and Baby Birds

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    May 8, 2012 by Joseph C. Neal

    Killdeer nest with eggs.

    It’s the season of migrants and baby birds. Speckle-breasted baby American Robins are out in the yard, hunted by neighborhood cats. Owls are out in the day light, trying to feed ravenous young.

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  2. For Bobwhites and Buses

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    April 23, 2012 by Joseph C. Neal

    Northern Bobwhite male - r

    Everywhere I go in northwest Arkansas giving bird programs people ask me about birds they used to see here, but don’t see now very often. Lots of the old-timers remember bobwhite quail, that pleasant, whistled BOB WHITE! So do I. My answer to such questions is usually the same: it’s about habitat. Like people, birds have specific needs. If the habitat needs aren’t met, it’s . . . well . . . bye bye birdie. Washington County voters have an opportunity on May 22 that speaks to part of this issue. Birds won’t be on the ballot, but the question considered can help. The ballot involves one penny tax on each four dollars spent, with pennies and dollars set aside to support and expand local transportation for all the people — I’ll just say buses for short. More buses and more ways and places to ride them ultimately translates into fewer cars and less habitat destruction. During the past 40 odd years I’ve had chances to vote on vexing issues involving sales taxes. I have usually favored lower taxes and so I’ve voted against many taxes. But expanding towns and cities have reduced quality habitat for all kinds of plants …

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  3. White Rock in Mid-Winter

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    February 8, 2012 by Joseph C. Neal

    120126 Hermit Thrush Slate Gap

    White Rock is way out in the middle of the Ozark National Forest and the Boston Mountains. Birding is good with Hermit Thrushes and Golden-crowned Kinglets in a stand of native shortleaf pines. Male Purple Finches are enjoying coralberries and tree buds right alongside Forest Service Road 1505. Flocks in scattered weedy openings include juncos, gold- finches, and cardinals. Field Sparrows decorated twigs poking out of an old rock wall in the ridgetop farming community of Bidville. Despite a record-breaking ice storm, a forest-decimating outbreak of borer beetles, and relentless cutting of the Federal budget, the Forest Service has managed to keep difficult, mountainous, winding roads to White Rock safe, open and even improved in places, including attractive road signs. From Combs in Madison County, I drive along Mill Creek, where in early January Hamamelis vernalis, Ozark Witch Hazel, is covered with rather elegant reddish blooms. Unfortunately, off-road vehicles are damaging Mill Creek bottomlands. Freshly eroded tracks and huge mudholes are visible without effort. Fresh nobby tracks go right past “Road Closed” signs. From Mill Creek, the forest road ascends toward White Rock. Along some of those high ridges another Hamame- lis species, American Witch Hazel with cheery yellow flowers, …

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  4. Among the Flock of Books, One Soars the Highest

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    January 12, 2012 by Kelly Gass

    Province_wAmazon

    I started reading In the Province of Birds by Joseph C. Neal book about a week ago at my step-daughter’s home in Royal Arkansas – basically on the edge of the Ouachita National Forest. The next morning, on a gravel lane outside her home, I chanced upon two pileated woodpeckers working on separate trees. That was the first time I’d seen that type of scenario, so I was really excited and primed to read and review this month’s book selection. The book’s author, Joseph Neal, is also a regular contributor to this newspaper. Perhaps you have read his interesting articles on birds in Western Arkansas. So when it was brought to my attention that this local author recently had his book published and released on Amazon.com, I thought it would be a great time to review it. This is a prime time of year for bird watching and for reading books related to the subject. From time to time, I pull my Stokes Field Guide To Birds from the shelf and use it to identify or refresh my memory on a bird that shows up at one of the bird feeders in our yard. The main theme that permeates throughout the …

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  5. ‘I Don’t Like People Taking Pictures of My Cows’

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    December 10, 2011 by Joseph C. Neal

    Common Grackles and European Starlings appear to be the main components of large blackbird roosts developing in my Fayetteville neighborhood. This is an annual event, as soon as we begin to have nighttime freezing. The birds roost together for various reasons, but a key one is that they are warmer in mass than individually.

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  6. The Eagle Has … Returned

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    November 24, 2011 by Joseph C. Neal

    eagle

    We have Bald Eagles every year in Arkansas, including nesting birds. But there was a time, 25 years ago, when Bald Eagles were all but extinct in the state. Just to remind everybody: these eagles plus many other kinds of large birds, including many hawks and pelicans, were hard hit by the widespread use of certain chemicals on crops. The most infamous was DDT. When DDT began to show up in human mother’s milk, protective laws were finally enacted. What was designed to protect mother also protected big birds, like Bald Eagles. They bounced back from a single nest in the entire state in the early 1980s, to over 100 now. There are at least three known nests around Beaver Lake. ​ The take home message: sensible laws that protect our health and well-being can also protect the health and well-being of creatures with whom we share earth. Well, this is a long-winded introduction to the arrival in Northwest Arkansas of eagles that nested up north. They have come south for winter. Folks who spend a fair amount of time watching water birds in Arkansas know that as American Coots begin arriving here in big numbers, eagles come in on about …

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  7. ‘Ducks on the Pond’

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    November 12, 2011 by Joseph C. Neal

    neil icon

    ​The above is a phrase that Arkansas native — and in past days, an extremely famous and highly successful St. Louis Cardinal pitcher — Dizzy Dean employed in reference to runners on the base. He also stated, among other things, “The Good Lord was good to me. He gave me a strong right arm, a good body, and a weak mind.” Ole Diz is long gone, but there are still ducks on the pond, especially this month, when the feathered type that nested up north are now migrating through western Arkansas. There are now ducks on every large pond and lake in western Arkansas. Of course, green head Mallards are everywhere. They must be out on your pond, even now as you read. So too perhaps are the less famous but also numerous Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers. These are all referred to as dabbling ducks, because they feed in shallow waters by tipping bottom up for food in the shallows. As we begin to have colder weather – which means much colder weather north of us – it’s like November’s heavens have suddenly opened. Claiming for avian royalty a new land as young-of-the-year ducks make their first trip south. Masses of Polar air add …

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