Missouri & Arkansas May 04—13, 2018

Posted by Steve Hilty

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Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of Venezuela, both by Princeton University Press, as well as the popular Birds of ...

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Our visit to Prairie State Park in western Missouri started with “…a Barred Owl perched in the open on an electric wire at dawn.” 

I wrote that sentence last year. But exactly the same thing happened again this year. In early morning light, about 0610 a.m., we watched this same owl (presumably) hunting, staring downward intently, once dropping to the ground, and then moving to a slightly different location on the wire to continue staring down at the grass in the ditch!

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler— Photo: Steve Hilty

 

A little background regarding the spring weather this year adds some perspective to what follows. Much of south Missouri-northern Arkansas experienced record-setting cold temperatures in April, but near normal rainfall. However, the rains abruptly stopped at the beginning of our trip, and suddenly we were experiencing near record high temperatures—close to 90F some days. With clear skies and high temperatures, migratory birds moved northward quickly. Prairie State Park teemed with birds—migrating Eastern Kingbirds, Summer Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, and many warblers. Resident breeders such as Dickcissels, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Brown Thrashers, Bell’s Vireos, and other prairie birds were much in evidence. We coaxed a curious little Henslow’s Sparrow into view and even found a little Sedge Wren in the prairie. But, because of previous cold temperatures, prairie flowers were late. We did not see great displays of flowers, although we did find reasonably good floral diversity–Yellow Star Grass, Wood Betony, Rose Verbena, False Garlic, and Cream Wild Indigo among many others. By late afternoon we were in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with time for a brief tour of this unusual city, which boasts more than 90 natural springs and some of the most ornate old Victorian homes to be found anywhere (plenty of employment for painters).

Read Steve’s full report in his Field Report.