On Friday the 6th, Charles Mills spotted a Cassin’s Sparrow on a rural road in extreme southwest Arkansas. Once accepted it will be a first state sighting. I thought about making a speed run down there but my Friday was full and Saturday was busy too. Later Karen emailed me to tell me that she and Helen Parker were going Saturday if I was interested. I had National Astronomy Day on Saturday but when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to beg off the early hours of NAD and make a run for it.
The best way to get there is to past Texarkana on I-30 and sneak back up on it from the west, taking “only” three hours to get there. Dennis Braddy had published the GPS coordinates so we drove till the Tom Tom told us to stop and waited. In about 20 minutes the bird made his appearance, making big flying loops while he sang. This behavior is called “skylarking” and I had never seen it before. We were all very happy and glad he had arrived. Then, wait a minute, there was another. We realized there were two birds doing the unique song of a Cassin’s. We spotted the other and soon saw them both at once in case there was any doubt. I was able to get pictures of both birds though not together. I subsequently learned that this small bird, usually no farther east than Dallas was popping up in Louisiana, Illinois, and elsewhere. For reasons not yet know, they’ve made a sudden but probably surge eastward.