Spring has sprung in the Ozarks

 Spring has sprung in the Ozarks

The falls at Lake Ann. Photo: Dana Johnson

Life in springtime Bella Vista, Arkansas.

The human residents of Bella Vista may be hunkered down at home, their usual to and fro habits severely restricted in an attempt to stem the earth wide Covid 19 pandemic, but life in the natural world continues on, blithely oblivious, or maybe relieved to be a little less traveled.

Fewer planes in the air and cars on the road and longer warmer days bring a range of new visitors to this nature’s gem of the Ozarks.  Forests, meadows, streams—and Bella Vista backyards–are wide open for business.  Kitchen windows offer a changing parade of migrating butterflies and birds. 

Swallowtails and herons are really residents, not visitors but are showing off their spring-time colors and young families.

Wildflower expert and Master Naturalist, Cheryl Hall captured a swallowtail butterfly foraging in a wild plum. Males and females look very similar except for a band of blue spots along the hindwing. If you look closely, you can just see a flash of blue—or maybe not?

Swallow tails don’t migrate as Monarchs do through NWA, but do suddenly appear in the spring when they emerge from their cold winter month hibernation to raise several broods. Swallowtails hibernate in the chrysalis stage. The green eggs are laid singly on Ash trees, Willows, Cottonwoods, Poplars,  Tulips, Wild Black Cherries and other plants of the families Magnoliaceae and Rosaceae.

Young caterpillars are brown and white; older ones are green with two black, yellow, and blue eyespots on the thorax. The caterpillar will turn brown prior to pupating. It will reach a length of 5.5 centimetres (2.2 in).The chrysalis varies from a whitish color to dark brown.

Our talented chronicler of the Bella Vista bird community, Quin Warsaw of Snappy’s View, gives us a up-close and personal window into a Great Blue Heron family hanging out together at home. The heron rookery on Berksdale is home year ‘round for the Bella Vista population. Earlier this year Snappy and photographer, John Huse helped us watch them find mates, build their nests, and settle in to raise a family. Welcome to Bella Vista little guys. It’s a great place to visit. And an even better place to live.


Like many Bella Vista homeowners, Quin has turned his backyard into a very popular rest stop for a variety of migrating birds. This summer, he’s tracked over 40 species stopping in for a snack or even long enough to raise a family.

Everyone waits eagerly for the first humming birds to find their way back to Bella Vista. Not everyone has the patience to wait until a hummingbird pauses for a few frames as this Ruby-throated Hummingbird did for Quin.

When asked who we should be expecting to be ignoring traveling restrictions and visiting Bella Vista this month, ornithologist and owner of The Bluebird Shed in Bella Vista https://www.thebluebirdshed.com/about-us, Butch Tetzlaff said “migration is in full swing right now and will be until about Mid-May. The hummingbirds are back and are passing through. Of course, some will remain here for the summer. Baltimore Orioles are in their way here as well as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. I’d say before the end of the week we’ll start hearing reports of them in Bella Vista.”

Other notables now here: Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Have you sighted these travelers?

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