Joe's report is below the photos.
Joe Neal said by email: We have another 8 inches of fresh snow as of this morning in Fayetteville. We?re shut. Everything including the University of Arkansas is closed. All kinds of blackbirds have come to town and my yard, driving my indoor cat crazy as they crowd the feeder. I am doubly glad I made another effort yesterday (when the roads were relatively clear) to get up into extreme NW Arkansas, roughly from Siloam Springs up through Gentry, Maysville, and back through Gravette. This basically involves highways 59, 12, 43, and 72. There were flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, meadowlarks, Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, Northern Cardinal, and Harris?s Sparrows (one flock of 7 at Maysville), more or less in that order of abundance, along the roads. Plus big flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starlings, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and a few others including Rusty Blackbird and Common Grackle (plus, I have heard reports for a few Yellow-headed Blackbirds). This is poultry country and a lot of chicken feed gets spilled/drifted along the highways. Since everything else is covered with ice and snow, plowed roadsides and feedlots are crowded with hungry birds. There is also a LOT of car and truck traffic along these roads, so the birds are constantly flushed. It is a sign of hungry times that they flushed and come right back, flush and come right back. At the Vaughn dairies I saw Great-tailed Grackles in one place ? walking around in the hay and manure under and alongside big dairy cows ? quite a scene really, an island of life in a vast snowfield. Yesterday, under these conditions ? with shoulders iced-over or with big plowed drifts ? and feed trucks trying to keep the poultry houses supplied ? and everyone trying to get to the store before the storm we have today -- it wasn?t easy to obtain real flock sizes. I throw on the flashers, pull over as far as I can and rapidly count everything I can see. The stress on hungry sparrows is apparent. I saw several Savannah Sparrows that were sluggish and barely moved or didn?t move at all. I photographed a lone Lincoln?s Sparrow at Maysville that ignored me. In a few places with less or little traffic, or when I just got lucky and caught a break in the traffic, I felt like I was seeing and able to count entire flocks. There were 58 tree sparrows in one flock along 43 between Cherokee City and Maysville and 42 and 20+ in fields along the road adjacent the state fish hatchery at Centerton. I had 254 tree sparrows for the day and that did not include the many flocks I couldn?t safely stop for. If I could have stopped it would have been 2X that. Horned Lark flocks were abundant along 72 E of Maysville. The handistop store at Maysville is open again, with gas, snacks, deli sandwiches, and daily lunch specials. This is an asset for birders visiting this area and I encourage everyone to stop and spend to keep it open. Gas prices are always competitive and the sandwiches have been great. -- JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas