The Arkansas River Trail hosts a variety of land and water birds throughout the year; well over 200 species can be seen on the trail and in the parks along the river. Winter is an especially good time to see water birds. Commonly occurring ducks include Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and Lesser Scaup. Hundreds of Ring-billed and Bonaparte’s Gulls commute to various feeding areas. American White Pelicans are popular attractions as they migrate and loaf along the river. Bald Eagles are possible any time.
Along the shoreline look for wading birds such as Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, and Green Heron. Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret are also possible in summer. Shorebirds such as Spotted, Solitary, and Least Sandpipers feed in mudflats and shallow water during spring and fall migration.
The Arkansas River Trail’s forests and fields are habitat for a variety of birds, some of which are familiar backyard visitors. Carolina Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, and American Robins live here year round. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows, and Yellow-rumped Warblers are winter residents. Summer is the time to find Summer Tanagers, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and Indigo Buntings. Look for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, as well as Baltimore and Orchard Orioles sipping nectar from tubular flowers. A large colony of Cliff Swallows nest on the Big Dam Bridge; they build their nests entirely out of mud.
By knowing when and where to expect birds, you’ll be more likely to see more species.
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. Download the materials on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website.
Click here for a complete list of birds with a chart of their seasonality and abundance throughout the year. This list is generated by eBird, a real-time, online checklist program that lets you enter your bird sightings from anywhere at any time. Create your own free account and contribute your bird sightings along the Arkansas River Trail!
Live in Central Arkansas? Love birds? Want to learn more? Then Audubon Society of Central Arkansas is the group for you. ASCA welcomes bird watchers of all ages and skill levels to attend monthly meetings and monthly field trips. See www.ascabird.org for details.