IBA Site Descriptions

Learn more about each of Arkansas's Important Bird Areas.

Click on names for site details. Numbers correspond to map (right)

1. Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery
Not all IBAs are natural, native habitat. Artificial impoundments for raising game fish provides waterbird habitat in northwestern Arkansas where little habitat exists otherwise. Therefore very popular birding location in region. Piping Plover and Least Tern in migration. Variety of other shorebirds plus waterfowl and waders. Also rare, out-of-range species such as Eared Grebe, Snowy Plover, Cinnamon Teal, Prairie Falcon, Say’s Phoebe, and Yellow-headed Blackbird.

2. Flint Creek Power Plant
Warm water discharge from the power plant keeps the lake ice-free and attracts large numbers of wintering Bald Eagles and other waterbirds. A nature trail and pavilion at the Eagle Watch area has attracted 10,000 visitors.

3. Cherokee Prairie
Three prairie preserves that support Northern Bobwhite, Short-eared Owl, Bell’s Vireo, Painted Bunting, Henslow’s Sparrow, and other open country birds.

4. Fort Chaffee
Arkansas National Guard training activities maintain exceptional shrub, prairie, and oak savanna habitat. Supports exceptionally large numbers of birds characteristic of these habitats. Bell’s Vireo (2,400 – may be largest in state), Northern Bobwhite (4,100), Prairie Warbler (1,300), Painted Bunting (1,800), Bachman’s Sparrow (1,800), Smith’s Longspur (up to 100), and Bewick’s Wren (10-20).

5. Shortleaf Pine-Bluestem Grass Ecosystem Management Area
USDA Forest Service landscape-scale project (155,000 acres) designed to recover a population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers consisting of 87 individuals in 36 family groups. Habitat restoration of shortleaf pine forest with a grassy understory provides habitat for hundreds of Bachman’s Sparrows, Prairie Warblers, Northern Bobwhites, and Yellow-breasted Chats.

6. Blackland Prairie
Composed of three patches. Blackland prairie once covered much of southwestern Arkansas but now exists as a few patches. Managed with prescribed burns. The prairie habitat and associated shrublands provides habitat for many species of conservation concern that are characteristic of these habitats: Northern Bobwhite, Loggerhead Shrike, Bell’s Vireo, Sedge Wren, Henslow’s Sparrow, and Painted Bunting.

7. Millwood Lake
This reservoir primarily serves as flood control and water supply, but also as bird habitat and a popular birding spot, especially for resident birder (and aptly named) Charles Mills. Of the 400+ birds on the state list, about 80% have been found here, including Arkansas’ first Cave Swallow and many other first state records. Thousands of American White Pelicans, Franklin’s Gulls, and Tree Swallows forage here during migration.

8. Little River Bottoms
Eighteen thousand acres of contiguous bottomland hardwood forest protected as wildlife habitat by private landowners for over a century. Supports the largest known rookery in the state, as well as a significant proportion of the state’s breeding Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Anhingas, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Cattle Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons, White Ibises, Purple Gallinules, and Common Moorhens. Thousands of wintering waterfowl gather in the cypress stands as well.

9. Ozark National Forest
The Main Division is a significant source site for a wide variety of interior forest birds. 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.

10. Mount Magazine
Magazine Mountain (2,753 ft in elevation) is the highest point in Arkansas. Since their discovery in 1972, the mountain has consistently supported 50-100% of the state’s population of Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Prescribed fire and thinning are used to maintain the sparse juniper-hardwood forest with a grassy understory preferred by this species. Neotropical migrants such as Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Hooded Warbler are common breeders. Large numbers of raptors migrate by the mountain each year.

11. Lake Dardanelle
Popular for a variety of recreational activities as well as commercial barge traffic. 10,000 acres supports thousands of gulls, especially Ring-billed and Bonaparte’s. Rare gulls such as Black-headed, Sabine’s and California have been found there. Least Tern nested historically, and habitat exists.

12. Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge
Bottomland hardwood forest, and an oxbow lake. Supports a variety of breeding songbirds including Kentucky Warbler, 6 wintering owls including Short-eared Owl. Dense wintering population of raptors including Northern Harrier, Merlins, and Bald Eagles. Rusty Blackbird, a species that is declining throughout its range winters here.

13. Bird Island
An small island in Lake Ouachita that harbors an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 Purple Martins in late summer. The birds roost on the island each night for about two months. As they leave the roost in the morning and spread out in all directions to feed, the mass can be seen on NEXRAD radar.

14. Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area
Marsh, swamp, and bottomland hardwood forest supports many wading birds, among them Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret, two species of conservation concern. Bewick’s Wren, a species that is losing ground in the eastern portion of its range, is rare in fall and winter. Close to Little Rock.

15. Camp Robinson Special Use Area
Close to Little Rock. Oak savanna and prairie. Burned and mowed to maintain breeding habitat for Bell’s Vireo and Bachman’s Sparrow. Variety of sparrows in winter: Field, Fox, White-crowned, White-throated, Chipping, Vesper, Savannah, Swamp, Lincoln’s, even Le Conte’s, Song, Junco.

16. Magness Lake
The odd duck of our IBA program harbors beautiful swans. This 60 acre privately owned pond supports the largest and oldest wintering population of Trumpeter Swans in the Southeast. Up to 90 birds per season makes this site important for restoration efforts. Pastureland adjacent to the pond provides forage.

17. Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge
Key area for Northern Pintail, also habitat for American Black Duck, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, etc. Managing water levels for shorebirds in migration. 100 Wood Storks – post-breeding dispersal. 33 Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Also Piping Plover, Least Tern. Mix of bottomland hardwood forest and cropland serves both farmers and wildlife through cooperative agreement.

18. Big Lake
Includes Big Lake NWR and Big Lake WMA. Contains cypress-tupelo swamp, bottomland hardwood forest, and oak forest. An Island of natural habitat in an ag and urban landscape. Important stopover habitat for many migrating songbird species along Mississippi Flyway. Provides breeding habitat for King Rails and both Night-Herons. May support 80,000 Mallards during winter.

19. St. Francis Sunken Lands Wildlife Management Area
Bottomland hardwood forests and swamps that support migratory and breeding Swainson’s Warblers, Wood Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Mississippi Kite.

20. Bayou DeView Raptor Area
Mostly privately owned farmland with interspersed hardwood forest and swamp. Part of Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA. Large breeding populations of Red-shouldered Hawks and Barred Owls. Large numbers of migrating raptors: Accipiters, Broad-winged Hawk, Mississippi Kite, Peregrine Falcon. Major concentration of wintering raptors, especially Red-tailed Hawk, with highest winter density ever recorded (Garner and Bednarz 2000). Attracted to high concentration of prey, such as rodents scared up by disking rice fields. High density of breeding Loggerhead Shrikes, a species declining throughout much of its range, including parts of Arkansas, still abundant in the eastern section.

21. Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge
Bottomland hardwoods and cypress-willow swamp. A growing Great Blue Heron rookery (100s) also has Anhingas, and both Night-Herons associated with it. Twenty species of waterfowl with over 100,000 individuals winter on the refuge. Up to 100 Least Terns forage in the fall.

22. Pine City Natural Area
443 acres of pine forest owned by Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and supporting 8 Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, as well as clusters of currently empty cavities maintained for translocated or dispersing individuals. Red-headed Woodpeckers and Rusty Blackbirds are also supported by the site.

23. Stuttgart Municipal Airport
Located in the Grand Prairie region, the airport maintains remnant tallgrass prairie and shrubland patches for birds such as Short-eared Owl, Sedge Wren, Bell’s Vireo, and rarely Henslow’s Sparrow. However, the airport is best known to birders as the most accessible location to find Smith’s Longspurs in the state; small flocks regularly winter in the short Aristida patches that border the runways.

24. Cache-Lower White Rivers
Known as the Big Woods. Two NWRs and three WMAs. Wetland of International Importance. Longest continuous expanse of bottomland hardwood forest in Lower Mississippi River Valley. The first confirmed sighting of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the US since 1944 occurred on the Cache River NWR in April 2004. Before this rediscovery, the site was recognized as an IBA because it has long supported a variety of birds of conservation concern. The site is the most likely to support the return of the Swallow-tailed Kite to Arkansas; since 2002, a pair has nested annually in White River NWR, the first attempts in over 100 years. This is the most important wintering area for Mallards in North America, with an average of 306,000 individuals. Thousands of southbound Mississippi Kites, and hundreds of Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, and Broad-winged Hawks migrate through the region per day. Up to 100 Bald Eagles winter here. Hundreds of post-breeding Wood Storks visit every year. A variety of migratory songbirds breed here, including: Acadian Flycatcher (1000s), Wood Thrush (100s), Prothonotary Warbler (1000s), Hooded Warbler (100s), Swainson’s Warbler (100s), and Cerulean Warbler (1-5).

25. Warren Prairie Natural Area
Saline barrens scattered throughout the site support three-fourths of the state’s wintering Henslow’s Sparrows. Surrounding oak-pine woodlands are managed through prescribed burns and thinning for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Northern Bobwhite, Prairie Warblers, and Bachman’s Sparrows.

26. Shugart/Felsenthal Red-cockaded Woodpecker
A landscape-scale approach to conserving a species whose potential habitat and population is embedded in a large area. Over 1 million acres of loblolly and shortleaf pine forest, the majority of which is owned by timber companies. Also includes pine forests in Felsenthal NWR. Protects 120 Red-cockaded Woodpecker clusters, each with 3-4 individuals. Forests also support Bachman’s Sparrows and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Felsenthal supports 100 nesting pairs and 8 species of wading birds including Little Blue Heron.

27. Choctaw Island Wildlife Management Area
Along Mississippi River. Bottomland hardwood forest, lowland pine forest, riverfront forest, and sandbars. Stopover habitat for migratory landbirds. Significant for Least Tern nesting colony on sandbars.

28. Lake Chicot
The largest natural oxbow lake in North America (5,300 ac) formed 500 years ago when the course of the Mississippi was altered. Over 400 acres of bald cypress. Important stopover along Mississippi Flyway for shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds. Hundreds of post-breeding Wood Storks found there.

29. Overflow National Wildlife Refuge
This refuge provides high quality floodplain habitat, and thousands of acres of impoundment managed especially for ducks and shorebirds. Mottled Ducks and Black-necked Stilts are among the thousands of birds that use the refuge.

30. Arkansas Post National Memorial
A unit of the National Park system located along the Arkansas River, near the confluences with the White and Mississippi Rivers. Its sloughs, bayous, and bottomland hardwoods support Anhingas, Pied-billed Grebes, Common and Purple Gallinules, Least Bitterns, and other waterbirds. Rangers are available 7 days a week to teach visitors about birds.

31. Camp Nine
Proximity to the Mississippi River and land-use practices make this working farm especially attractive to birds. It hosts the largest state populations of several species, and some species found here annually are extremely rare anywhere else in the state at any time. Mottled Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Least Bittern, Least Tern, King Rail, and Common Gallinule are just a few examples. Rarities include Gull-billed Tern, Vermilion Flycatcher, Neotropic Cormorant, Magnificent Frigatebird, Black Rail, Yellow Rail, Long-tailed Duck, Red-necked Phalarope, and Ruff.

31. Woolsey Wet Prairie Sanctuary
Wetland mitigation site quickly colonized by wetland and grassland birds following restoration. Hosts high densities of breeding Dickcissels and Eastern Meadowlarks, and wintering Savannah, Song, and Swamp Sparrows. State and county records include Brewer’s Sparrow, Cassin’s Sparrow, Northern Shrike, and Purple Gallinule.

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