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State of Arkansas

N Mocker
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos ©Robert Royse Website

Birding Arkansas

Arkansas is ideally situated for birds and birdwatchers alike. Its mild southern climate consists of long, warm summers and short, cool winters. Geographically, the Great Plains approach Arkansas' western border in Texas and Oklahoma while the Mississippi River forms the eastern border along Tennessee and Mississippi. Many distinct habitats are contained with these borders, including patches of remnant prairie, upland and bottomland forests, lowland marshes, and many open lakes and rivers. This diversity, along with Arkansas' prime position along the Mississippi flyway and its proximity to typically western and gulf coast birds, yields an impressive state list of 388 species.

Many of the Natural State's prime birding spots are accessible in the form of State or National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Forests, and the Buffalo National River. And although the birding community in Arkansas is fairly active, there are still exciting discoveries to be made. For example, breeding populations of Chestnut-sided and Black-throated Green Warblers were discovered hundreds of miles from their previously known breeding grounds as recently as 1993.

Drawing a line from the northeast to the southwest corner of the state creates the easiest physio-graphic division of Arkansas: above the line are the highlands; below the line are the lowlands. The highlands can be further divided into the Ozark Plateau and the Ouachita (pronounced WASH-ih-taw) Mountains, which consist of mostly oak-hickory or oak-hickory-pine forest. The lowlands are made up of the Gulf Coastal Plain, which runs along the southern border with Louisiana, and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain in the east. The Gulf Coastal Plain is characterized by rolling hills and predominantly pine forest while the Mississippi Alluvial Plain is primarily farming country that has lost most of its trees.

The birds are as varied as the habitats that attract them. As Mel White writes in the Introduction to his A Birder's Guide to Arkansas (1995, American Birding Association, Inc.); Everyplace in Arkansas is great the first week of May. Seeing 100 species in a day is almost easy during the full swing of migration. In addition, breeding Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, and Brown-headed Nuthatch are found in the Ouachitas and southern pine forests. Swainson's Hawk is an annual migrant in the west. Western Kingbirds have been found breeding in the southwest, Harris's Sparrow and Western Meadowlark winter in the northwest. Central Arkansas yields wintering flocks of Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur with Smith's Longspur present in a few locations. In some winters Sprague's Pipit is found with these species. The low wetland areas provide habitat for millions of wintering waterfowl, and Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Anhinga, have all been found along the Gulf Coastal and the Mississippi Plains. Add these possibilities to the expected eastern birds and you have an incredible species assemblage!

The Audubon Society of Central Arkansas' web site houses a checklist of Arkansas birds and maintains a Rare Bird Alert that can also be reached by phone at (501) 753-5853. An annotated checklist that includes notes on distribution and dates of occurrence can be obtained by writing to Max Parker, Curator, Arkansas Audubon Society, 2426 S. Main, Malvern, AR 72104 (copies are 15 cents apiece plus a self-addressed stamped envelope). Birders wishing to document unusual sightings should write to Max Parker at the same address.

Top Sites

Bald Knob NWR

Satellite View

Bald Knob NWR encompasses approximately 15,000 acres of forested wetlands and croplands. Lying along the Little Red River and adjacent to the Henry Gray/ Hurricane Lake State Wildlife Management Area this refuge is an important link in protecting wildlife and its habitat…

Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery

Satellite View

Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, outside Centerton, AR, consists of a series of shallow fish ponds surrounded by pasture and suburban development. It is relatively treeless, and except for a low hill to the west, the terrain is flat. It is owned by Arkansas Game & Fish Commission…

Craighead Forest Park

Satellite View

Craighead Forest Park is located at 4910 South Culberhouse Road in Jonesboro Arkansas. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities including: basketball, softball, horseshoes, volleyball, disc golf, camping, fishing, bike/running trails, bird watching and playgrounds, so there is some disturbance…

Holla Bend NWR

Satellite View

The refuge is situated on a bend of the Arkansas River which was cut off when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened the river in 1954 for flood control. Refuge lands include over 7,000 acres of agricultural fields, bottomland forest, and open water…

Stuttgart Airport

Information

Satellite View

The 2680 acre Stuttgart Airport has 254 acres of unfarmed old fields and 1250 acres in cultivation, primarily rice and soybeans. The City of Stuttgart uses the revenue generated from the farming activities to fund the airport operations. The Stuttgart Airport is very popular with birdwatchers who flock to the airport to look for Smith’s longspurs and Sprague’s pipits in the three-awn grass near the airport runways. The City and its Airport welcome the birdwatchers and promote birding at the Airport.

Contributor

Dan Scheiman

Bird Conservation Director - Arkansas Audubon

birddan@comcast.net

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 417

(As at October 2018)

State Bird - Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

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Useful Reading

A Birder's Guide to Arkansas

By Mel White | American Birding Association | 1995 | Spiralbound | 259 pages, B/w photos, line illustrations, maps |

ISBN: 1878788094

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Arkansas Birds : Their Distribution and Abundance

By Douglas A James & Joseph C Neal | University of Arkansas Press | 2001 | Hardback | 416 pages, Illustrations |

ISBN: 0938626388

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Arkansas Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

By James Kavanagh | Waterford Press | 2002 | Unbound | colour illustrations |

ISBN: 1583551840

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Arkansas Field Guide

by Stan Tekiela | Adventure Publications | 2011 | Paperback | 326 pages, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9781591932611

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Arkansas Audubon Society

Website

One of the objectives of the Arkansas Audubon Society has been to contribute to the knowledge of birds in Arkansas through the permanent maintenance of bird records for the state…

Arkansas Bird Records Committee

Website

One of the objectives of the Arkansas Audubon Society has been to contribute to the knowledge of birds in Arkansas through the permanent maintenance of bird records for the state. The Arkansas Bird Records Committee, a committee of five members chaired by the AAS Curator, is responsible for determining the validity of reports of birds in Arkansas that are rare in the state, difficult to identify, or seen out of season. Noteworthy records that have been accepted by the ABRC appear in the Curator`s report, published each quarter in the AAS newsletter, Arkansas Birds. The ABRC also maintains and periodically publishes the official Arkansas State Bird List.

Arkansas Valley Audubon Society

Website

Due to its unusually large geographic expanse which encompasses several altitudinal life zones and a great variety of habitats, the AVAS chapter area offers outstanding birding opportunities. An example would be the grouse species which range from the high altitude White-tailed Ptarmigan to the Lesser Prairie Chicken of the southeastern plains. Our checklist for the Pueblo area alone contains over 400 species, over a fourth of which may be seen at any time during the year.

Audubon Arkansas

Website

Audubon Arkansas will inspire and lead environmental education, resource management, habitat restoration, bird conservation and enlightened advocacy…

Audubon Society of Central Arkansas

Website

The mission of the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas is to encourage programs and activities supporting all things natural, wild, and free, especially birds, bird habitat stability and improvement, as well as to promote fellowship among members, educate and inspire the public, and champion the highest standards of ethical outdoor conduct.

Audubon Society of North Central Arkansas

Facebook Page

The Audubon Society of North Central Arkansas promotes environmental awareness by educating youth, others in the community, and ourselves about the benefits of preserving our natural habitat.

Garland County Audubon Society

Website

Regular meetings are held at 7:00 P.M. on the second Thursday of each month, except July and August, in Hot Springs, AR. They are held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 3819 Central Avenue (between Chili's and IHOP restaurants).

Hot Springs Village Audubon Society

Website

We enjoy and protect birds through advocacy, education, and conservation. Some of our greatest bird populations are threatened by development, competition for nesting sites, attacks from predators, environmental changes. Become a part of the greater effort to protect birds and other wildlife and share the joy of Arkansas's natural resources. Join our 260+ members.

Little Red River Audubon Society

Facebook Page

Members enjoy birds and nature, host programs and field trips, sell birdseed, and give scholarships to 5th and 6th graders to attend Halberg Ecology Camp.

Nature Conservancy in Arkansas

Webpage

The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas has been working cooperatively with private landowners, businesses, public agencies and other organizations to conserve and restore the lands and waters of the Natural State for people to enjoy since 1982.

North West Arkansas Audubon Society

Website

Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society originated during a period of expanding environmental awareness. Most of those involved were students at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, who found a home in northwest Arkansas and were interested in a way to advocate for the environment.

Tex-Ark Audubon

Information

Join the Tex-Ark Audubon Society for its monthly meeting, tonight at 7 p.m. at Texarkana College – Biology 119 in Texarkana. For more information, contact Don Kyle, President, Tex-Ark Audubon Society at (870) 774-9985.

Three Rivers Audubon Society

Facebook Page

The Three Rivers Arkansas Audubon promotes environmental awareness by educating youth, others in the community, and ourselves about the benefits of conservation.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

Arkansas Acres for Wildlife Program

Webpage

Almost 90 percent of Arkansas’s land is privately owned. Many landowners and managers who are concerned about the environment and wildlife often forget to consider it in their management activities. Many more don’t know where to start. Acres for Wildlife is a free environmental action program of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission which targets all wildlife species and gives special emphasis on species of greatest conservation concern. It improves habitat and encourages landowners to consider wildlife needs in conjunction with good farming, livestock production and forestry practices.

Arkansas State Parks

Website

Clickable map & links about events in Arkansas State Parks…

FP Craighead

Information

Satellite View

Craighead Forest Park opened when the Young Men's Civic Club began work on the lake in 1937. Today the park comprises 692 acres in the scenic beauty of Crowley's Ridge and features a fishing lake, camping facilities, hiking/biking trails, bird watching opportunities, picnic sites, and recreational fields.

IBA Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery

Information

Satellite View

Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, outside Centerton, AR, consists of a series of shallow fish ponds surrounded by pasture and suburban development. It is relatively treeless, and except for a low hill to the west, the terrain is flat. It is owned by Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

IBA Fort Chaffee

Information

Satellite View

Fort Chaffee is a GLOBAL IBA and an active military training facility of the Arkansas National Guard. Fort Chaffee contains extensive amounts of shrub-scrub, prairie and oak savanna habitat. It is the largest landscape-size conservation area in the Arkansas River Valley and may support the largest shrub-scrub habitat in the state. Site regularly supports significant densities of one or more of the bird species considered by Audubon as vulnerable in Arkansas: Likely supports the largest population of Bell's Vireo in the state along with several other important breeding populations such as Painted Bunting, Prairie Warbler, Northern Bobwhite, Red-headed Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, and Grasshopper Sparrow and a regularly occurring population of wintering Smith's Longspur.

NC Little Rock Audubon Center

Webpage

Satellite View

The Audubon Center is adjacent to a 400 acre park that will be used for recreation and field science studies…

NF Ouachita

Webpage

Satellite View

This is the land of True Grit, the novel by Charles Portis later made into a movie starring John Wayne. Wild outlaws and hard-working hill country people are a real part of the history and traditions of these mountains, as much as craggy forests and plentiful wildlife…

NF Ozark

Information

Satellite View

Ozark National Forest is located in northwest Arkansas within the Ozark-Ouachita Physiographic Province and the Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region. The southernmost portion runs along the Arkansas River Valley south to the Ouachita Mountains. The northern boundary extends beyond Lone Rock to Matney Mountain in Stone County. On the west the forest patchwork touches Oklahoma. The Main Division of Ozark National Forest is a significant source site for a wide variety of interior forest birds from Yellow-billed Cuckoos to Worm-eating Warblers. The forest supports more than 1% of the state?s population of 14 species including Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Cerulean Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Chestnut-sided Warbler. Future forest management will provide habitat for woodland and savannah species such as Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman?s Sparrow and Painted Bunting.

NWR Bald Knob

Information

Satellite View

Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1993 to protect and provide feeding and resting areas for migrating waterfowl. Acquired as part of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, this refuge provides a winter home for large concentrations of a number of species of ducks and geese. Located south of the town of Bald Knob in White County, Arkansas, Bald Knob NWR encompasses approximately 15,000 acres of forested wetlands and croplands. Lying along the Little Red River and adjacent to the Henry Gray/ Hurricane Lake State Wildlife Management Area this refuge is an important link in protecting wildlife and its habitat.

NWR Big Lake

Information

Satellite View

Over 227 species of birds have been observed by refuge personnel and visiting ornithologists since 1915. Copies of the refuge bird checklist are available at the headquarters and portions of the refuge are open to birding year-round…

NWR Cache River

Information

Satellite View

…famed for the recent very dubious 're-discovery' of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker… As one of the few remaining areas in the Lower Mississippi River Valley not drastically altered by channelization and drainage, the Cache River basin contains a variety of wetland communities including some of the most intact and least disturbed bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi Valley region. These unique and valuable wetlands have been protected by the RAMSAR Convention as “Wetlands of International Importance”.

NWR Holla Bend

Information

Satellite View

Holla Bend NWR, established in 1957, is located 8 miles down river from Dardanelle, Arkansas. The refuge is situated on a bend of the Arkansas River which was cut off when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened the river in 1954 for flood control. Refuge lands include over 7,000 acres of agricultural fields, bottomland forest, and open water…

NWR Wapanocca

Information

Satellite View

Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife oasis in an agricultural desert. An excellent diversity of habitat exists, comprised of open shallow lake, bottomland forest, cypress/willow swamp, and slowly reforesting old fields, all linked by miles of nature drives, foot and canoe trails. Over 20 species of Waterfowl are observed annually during the winter number 100,000+ and an average of 500 pairs of wading birds are observed in summer annually according to observations of refuge personnel. An average of 1000 shorebirds annually when mud is exposed during migration were observed by Norman and Cheryl Lavers. The Refuge regulary supports significant densitites of one or more of the bird species considered by Audubon as vulnerable in Arkansas. The refuge is particularly rich in numbers of snakes, Broad-banded Watersnakes and Cottonmouths, being the most visible. It also is an excellent place to see Bobcat, River Otter, Mink and Beaver.

NWR White River

Information

Satellite View

Possible Ivory-billed Woodpecker place…

SP Lake Chicot

Webpage

Satellite View

The park interpreter provides a variety of programs including guided walks, barge tours through cypress swamps, nature talks, films, demonstrations, and living history from the pioneer and Civil War periods…

SP Lake Frierson

Webpage

Satellite View

On the eastern shores of the lake is 135-acre Lake Frierson State Park. Added to the Arkansas State Parks System in 1973, the park is fast becoming a popular recreation area where visitors can relax and enjoy the beauty of the forest-covered land…

Warren Prairie Natural Area

Information

Satellite View

The site supports over three-fourths of the Henslow’s Sparrows that are known to winter in Arkansas. The density of Henslow’s Sparrow at Warren Prairie is similar to what is observed in frequently burned long leaf pine savanna, which is considered by many to be the species’ primary winter habitat. In October of 2010, the ANHC began repatriation of a breeding population of the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

WMA Rex Hancock-Black Swamp

Information

Satellite View

...Areas such as Cache River Natural Area represent the last remaining fragments of these once extensive forested wetlands. This natural area lies within the Rex Hancock/Black Swamp Wildlife Management Area and is co-managed with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC)...

Forums & Mailing Lists

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Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2016 [05 May] - Bruce Wedderburn - Southeast USA

Report

This was a two-month trip to southeast USA for Yvonne and myself, from late March through to late May, with a focus on the Spring migration, in particular the highly varied and colourful warblers. The trip commenced in Dallas in early Spring and involved touring through Texas along the Mexican border, following the Gulf of Mexico around to Florida as far south as Key West, then heading north up the east coast of the USA, then inland to the Appalachian Ranges in North Carolina, before heading west for our return trip to Dallas...

2018 [05 May] - Geoff Upton - Canada and USA (inc AK)

PDF Report

A classic road trip down the Mississippi from Illinois to Louisiana, augmented with a visit to our friends in southern Ontario, and extending along the Gulf coast into the Florida ‘panhandle’. This route gave us plenty of opportunities to take in the rich and varied history, music, food and of course the birds. There weren’t many birds I was desperate to see, and I hoped to pick these up along the way rather than going to specific sites.

Other Links

Arkansas Birder

Website

Arkansas Birder has 100+ pages, 1800+ photos of all Arkansas birds, up to the minute RBA info and map, videos, audio recordings, live birdcam, species profiles, birding hotspots, and links to other Arkansas birding websites…

Arkansas Birding & Watchable Wildlife

Webpage

Exciting opportunities for birding and wildlife observation are found within easy reach of every Arkansas community, including the state's largest cities. The success of habitat preservation efforts in The Natural State is evident in several populations of Arkansas wildlife and birds, including the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, the growing herd of elk reintroduced along the Buffalo National River, and in the increasing numbers of American black bears across the state.

Arkansas Breeding Bird Atlas

Website

The Arkansas Audobon Society initiated the Arkansas Breeding Bird Atlas (ABBA) Project in 1994 for the purpose of developing a series of distributional maps for all species of birds that breed within the state. Initial funding of the project came from the Arkansas Game and fish commission, the University of Arkansas, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Washington, D.C. Data collection began in 1994. Success of this project is dependant upon volunteers for data collection among the 875 total blocks within the state.

Birds of Arkansas

Website

Welcome to Birds of Arkansas, a site that provides basic information, photos, and songs for 100 common Arkansas bird species, as well as resources for learning even more. You may sort the list of birds in a variety of ways, including by size or habitat, to make it easier to find and identify a specific bird…

Wings Over Arkansas

Information

Wings Over Arkansas is an award-based program recognizing bird watchers’ contributions to Arkansas’ outdoors. Start a checklist of birds you've seen and receive a decorative pin and certificate identifying your level of birding experience…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Steve Creek

Gallery

Here I will introduce you to my wildlife and nature photography. All of my photos are unique and bring a touch of the outdoors, in. I hope that you find my work artistically inspiring; and through my photos, it is my hope that you find the same passion and admiration for the wild as I enjoy each day throughout my nature walks. There truly are not enough hours in the day to capture all the beauty that nature and wildlife has to offer.