Wildlife and Water Birds of Arkansas
here there is water, there is wildlife. Waterfowl. Bear. Deer. These, and many other species, can be found at Arkansas Rivers
, lakes and streams accessible by the state parks.
Take one of the many guided tours led by park interpreters, or venture out on Arkansas wildlife canoe trips
with a good birding book and binoculars. Walk the trails of White Oak Lake to see white-tailed deer, or Arkansas canoeing
down the White River and spot a bald eagle or many other birds native to Arkansas
perched high in the treetops.
Bull Shoals-White River State Park
Bull Shoal-White River State Park is home to many wildlife species and water birds of Arkansas. You can enjoy nature from your riverside campsite, on one of the park's nature trails, or one of the many guided Arkansas wildlife canoe trips on the White River or Bull Shoals Lake. These waters provide a flyway for migrating bird species, so this area offers an excellent setting for spotting birds native to Arkansas in the late fall and early spring. Each winter bald eagles make their way to the lakes and rivers in the Ozark Mountains including 45,440-acre Bull Shoals Lake. America's national bird is featured in the park's Eagle Awareness program, one of the largest annual eagle events in the state. With over 10 miles of hiking, biking, and ADA-accessible trails, the park offers ample opportunities to observe the abundant wildlife species while exploring the diverse ecosystems found in the park. Regular sightings include the Great Blue Heron. Occasionally, a Red Fox will come into view. Park interpreters lead guided jon boat, canoe and kayak tours on the river. Along the way, your guide will relate river history and point out wildlife and unique geological features. As you paddle down this renowned Ozark Mountain stream, look for herons and hawks soaring in the sky above. Look-or fish-for trout in the cool waters below. Now you, too, will understand why this is one of Arkansas's natural treasures. For details about Bull Shoals-White River State Park, call 870-445-3629 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/BullShoalsWhiteRiver.
Cane Creek State Park
Cane Creek State Park's location where the West Gulf Coastal Plain and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain meet provides visitors the opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife and birds native to Arkansas. Regular sightings of white-tailed deer, turkey, red fox, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, armadillos, and turtles are enjoyed in the park and from the lake. Year-round paddlers can view beaver lodges or see the assorted birds of Arkansas that visit the lake. On sunny days, watch for egrets, herons, waterfowl, and a variety of woodpeckers as they fly overhead, and see fish snatching insects right below the bow of your boat. You might glimpse an osprey, a threatened species that lives here throughout the year. In the colder months, look for wintering bald eagles. This is also an especially good place to introduce kids to birdwatching. Bring along your rod and reel and as you fish from your kayak, enjoy the wildlife watching, too. For details about Cane Creek State Park, call 870-628-4714 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/CaneCreek.
Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area
Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area stretches for 12 miles along the wild and scenic Cossatot River and includes a variety of protected wildlife habitats, from a dry open shale pit to a mature shortleaf pine and hardwood forest. To learn more about the area's wildlife, visitors can explore several park trails, wade in the river, or check out the interactive exhibits inside the park's new discovery center. For details about Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area, call 870-385-2201 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/CossatotRiver.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
There are many things to do at Crater of Diamonds State Park besides dig for diamonds. Be sure to check out the Diamond Discovery Center, enjoy Diamond Springs water play area, and talk a nature walk on the River Trail, the longest wheelchair accessible trail in southwest Arkansas. For details about Crater of Diamonds State Park, call 870-285-3113 or visit: www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com.
Crowley's Ridge State Park
Crowley's Ridge State Park offers a number of opportunities for birding and wildlife watching. White-tailed deer, turkey, fox, and raccoons live in the park and can be seen on the trails and around the two lakes. The park has a butterfly garden that is the perfect place to look for these flying jewels. A wide variety of birds makes their home in the park and can often be seen singing, hunting for food, and tending nests. For details about Crowley's Ridge State Park, call 870-573-6751 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/CrowleysRidge.
Daisy State Park
Daisy State Park is a great park for watching wildlife. Driving through the park you are likely to see wildlife including squirrels and white-tailed deer. The park is home to many birds native to Arkansas that live here throughout the year. Bald eagles winter on Lake Greeson from fall to early spring and nest around the shoreline. For details about Daisy State Park, call 870-398-4487 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/Daisy.
Davidsonville Historic State Park
Fishing is a major activity at Davidsonville Historic State Park, both in the 12-acre lake and in the adjacent Black River. Experienced anglers know they can experience excellent birdwatching and wildlife viewing opportunities while waiting on the fish to bite. For details about Davidsonville Historic State Park, call 870-892-4708 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/OldDavidsonville.
DeGray Lake Resort State Park
With its vast expanse of water, 13,800-acre DeGray Lake is famous for its eagle watching opportunities. In fact, since wintering bald eagles are so abundant here on the lake, DeGray Lake Resort State Park is home to the state's longest-running eagle awareness program, the annual Eagles Et Cetera program that occurs each January. The event is celebrated with programs and activities centered on eagles and other birds of prey. Bald eagles can be spotted around DeGray Lake during October through February. Many other birds also make DeGray Lake their destination as well and can be observed throughout the year residing or passing through the area. Here you can also see loons, grebe and a variety of ducks. Many other wildlife species live in and around the lake and can be best seen in early morning or late evening throughout the 938-acres of the state park, so it's a great place for Arkansas wildlife canoe trips. Park visitors often report seeing white-tailed deer, skunks, fox, armadillos, and raccoons in the park. For details about DeGray Lake Resort State Park, call 501-865-5810 or visit: www.DeGray.com.
Devil's Den State Park
Located on 2,500 acres within the Boston Mountain Plateau, the oak-hickory forest, crevices and crevice caves, and Lee Creek valley all add to the beauty and diversity of habitats at Devil's Den State Park. The park's wild inhabitants include 170 species of birds, a variety of mammals including two endangered bat species (the Ozark-big eared bat and the Indiana bat) as well as white-tailed deer, raccoons, foxes, groundhogs, bobcats, and many others. The Devil's Den Trail, one of the most popular trails within the park, features two fracture caves: the Devil's Den and the Devil's Icebox. [NOTE: All caves in the park are closed to the public as Arkansas and other states try to protect hibernating bats from White-nose Syndrome.] Gravity flow springs, peculiar erosional remnants of sandstone strata, wet weather waterfalls, and lush Ozark plant and animal life are just a few of the sights you can expect as you wind through the rugged Boston Mountain terrain found here. The park is also home to several species of reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. For details about Devil's Den State Park, call 479-761-3325 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/DevilsDen.
Lake Catherine State Park
Regular sightings of Great Blue Herons await you on the shore's edge of 1,940-acre Lake Catherine. From late fall to early spring, get your binoculars ready to spot a couple of bald eagles that winter on the lake. Lake Catherine State Park is your gateway to this lake. The park in rich in birding and wildlife viewing opportunities, too. Here, you will also find white-tailed deer, squirrels, turkey, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, and armadillos. Park visitors can enjoy hands-on exhibits at the nature cabin (open seasonally), participate in an interpretive program (including guided lake tours), or hike one of the park's nature trails through the pine and hardwood forest to see a variety of animal life, birds and plant life. This park provides many opportunities for photographing birds and wildlife. Streams and cascades along the trails are great for providing solitude and attracting the keen eye of the photographers, too. For details about Lake Catherine State Park, call 501-844-4176 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeCatherine.
Lake Charles State Park
Lake Charles offers many ways to observe wildlife. Silently glide along the lake shore in a kayak, relaxe aboard the pontoon boat for a morning or evening lake cruise, or simply grab your binoculars and take to a trail. A wide variety or birds and animals call the lake and its environs home. White-tailed deer are never far from the White Oak Trail. Fox kits can often be seen frolicking across the cove from the swimming area, and the resident bald eagle makes a regular appearance. For details about Lake Charles State Park, call 870-878-6595 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeCharles.
Lake Chicot State Park
Although it may never again experience the power of rushing waters, 20-mile long Lake Chicot, the largest natural lake in Arkansas, has established its own place in history with a unique and diverse natural heritage seen in the variety of birds and wildlife that live in the park or visit here each year. Located in the Mississippi Flyway, Lake Chicot offers some of the best year-round birding opportunities in Arkansas. Because of this, Lake Chicot State Park is one of the hottest birding spots in southeast Arkansas due to the excellent low-land habitat which makes for a wide variety of summer and wintering residents as well as spring and fall migrants. Sights include Prothontary Warbler, American Red Start, and wood storks. The park interpreter offers lake tours, levee tours and other opportunities for you to view a variety of birds and other wildlife. Many animals call Lake Chicot State Park home. With the diversity of habitats, you will find numerous birds, mammals, and reptiles such as red foxes, alligators, and red-headed woodpeckers throughout the park and surrounding areas. Some of the best areas to see wildlife include the following habitats:
The cypress-tupelo swamp found across the lake is a safe haven for many water and shore birds in addition to aquatic reptiles, mammals, and fish throughout the year. An excellent way to discover this hidden habitat is through a guided Barge Tour offered at the park. During the winter, one of the best spots to look for birds is Lake Chicot itself. Sitting at one of the docks, you can scan both the shoreline and open waters for a variety of migrating water and shore birds. You can spot other animals such as raccoons getting a drink at the waters edge usually around dawn and dusk. The Delta Woodland Trail is a great spot to search for wildlife year round. This one mile loop gives you the opportunity to see song birds, woodpeckers, reptiles, mammals including red foxes and many, many more. Another wildlife hotspot is the Mississippi River Levee. Migrating hawks, kites, and shorebirds as well as wild turkey can be seen on the levee. Other finds include deer, rabbit, the occasional herd of horses (tame), alligators, and much more! You can begin your wildlife expedition at the park visitor center with the wildlife viewing window found in the Discovery Room and the Butterfly Garden in front of the center. Watch for red-headed woodpeckers, Monarchs, Carolina Chickadees, squirrels, many common backyard birds, Swallowtail, plus other wildlife.
For details about Lake Chicot State Park, call 870-265-5480 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeChicot.
Lake Dardanelle State Park
Lake Dardanelle has been named an Audubon Society Important Birding Area. During the fall and winter months birds of all types retreat to the lake from their homes up north. Bald eagles nest on Lake Dardanelle and they can frequently be seen soaring and searching for fish. Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfishers and Canada Geese call the park home throughout the year. Seasonal species include red-winged black birds, scissor-tail flycatchers and Osprey. You can see snow geese and white pelicans, too. The best birding sites in the park are along the rock breakwater, along the bank throughout the park or at the bird observation deck along the Meadowbrook Trail. The park is also home to many of Arkansas's common mammals such as white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, and opossum. These mammals can frequently be seen around dusk throughout the park and along the wooded Meadowbrook trail. Park interpreters offer programs, tours and boat cruises throughout the year that provide unique opportunities to view these creatures in their habitat. For details about Lake Dardanelle State Park, call 479-967-5516 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeDardanelle.
Lake Fort Smith
Lake Fort Smith is a 1,490-acre mountain reservoir built on Frog Bayou. It supplies several communities' drinking water including Fort Smith. Lake Ft. Smith is surrounded by the Boston Mountain range of the Ozark Mountains making it among the most picturesque lakes in the state. This area with the mountains, wetlands, and the lake offer an ideal area for birding and wildlife watching. Along the lakeshore you'll have good chances of seeing a Blue Heron, Kingfishers, Wood ducks, and, during the winter, bald eagles. Sightings might also include Bluebirds, Summer Tanagers or Roadrunners. Almost any evening you can hear the distinctive call of a Barred Owl. Almost daily you can see White-tail deer and raccoons, and occasionally you will see a black bear or bobcat around the park and lake. For details about Lake Fort Smith State Park, call 479-369-2469 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeFortSmith.
Lake Frierson State Park
The park's 114 acres are situated along the eastern shoreline of peaceful Lake Frierson. The wooded hillsides and lake environments provide productive habitats for nearly 100 species of resident and migrant birds. The park also provides home to a variety of wildlife such as woodchucks, squirrels, foxes, and white-tailed deer. For details about Lake Frierson State Park, call 870-932-2615 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeFrierson.
Lake Ouachita State Park
Located in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, 40,000-acre Lake Ouachita offers visitors the opportunity to observe and photograph an abundance of wildlife. Featuring 975 miles or pristine shoreline, the lake is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest. Lake Ouachita State Park on the lake's eastern end, offers two hiking trails where you might encounter white-tailed deer, butterflies, lizards, and a variety of birds. Along the shoreline, you might see beaver, otter, turtles, or other wild animals. At dusk, you may see a bat or an owl flying nearby. Several locations in the park provide opportunities for wildlife watching. One of the most popular and sought after species to see is the wintering bald eagles that arrive in November and depart in February. Park interpreters offer covered barge tours throughout the season in search of these magnificent birds. Often, other wintering waterfowl are seen such as loons, grebes, osprey, and a number of other ducks and geese. Check the park program schedule for dates and times of the tours. For details about Lake Ouachita State Park, call 501-767-9366 or visit: www.ArkansastateParks.com/LakeOuachita.
Lake Poinsett State Park
For birding and wildlife watching, the 1.1-mile Great Blue Heron Trail at Lake Poinsett State Park can be enjoyed in a leisurely 45-minute hike. Activities offered by park interpreters include trail walks, guided kayak and canoe tours, and birding and watchable wildlife excursions. For details about Lake Poinsett State Park, call 870-578-2064 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakePoinsett.
Mammoth Spring State Park
A National Natural Landmark, Mammoth Spring is Arkansas's largest spring and the second largest spring in the Ozark Mountains. Flowing nine million gallons hourly, Mammoth Spring forms a 10-acre lake in the park, then flows southward as the Spring River, a popular trout and float stream, which is also good for birding and wildlife watching. For details about Mammoth Spring State Park, call 870-625-7364 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/MammothSpring.
Millwood State Park
Songbirds, shore birds, aquatic birds and birds of prey can all be found in abundance in and around Millwood Lake. Visitors to the area can walk the lake trails or take to the open waters to see resident birds such as cardinals, egrets and herons. During the migratory season, sea gulls, pelicans, ducks and bald eagles make Millwood their southern destination. Area visitors can also spot other wildlife including whitetailed deer, beaver, nutria, and an occasional bobcat. A healthy population of alligators also calls Millwood home, and can be seen basking along the shorelines or floating in the river. Millwood State Park offers guided nature hikes and lake tours designed to introduce visitors to the natural wonders of Millwood and the inhabitants that abound there. A series of boat lanes meander through timber, marshes and oxbow cutoffs, making Millwood Lake a tree-filled fishing and birdwatching haven. Over 330 bird species have been spotted in the Millwood Lake area. For details about Millwood State Park, call 870-898-2800 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/Millwood.
Petit Jean State Park
Stout's Point is just one many places to watch for wildlife in Petit Jean State Park. Here, visitors watch for hawks, vultures, pelicans, and other birds in the Arkansas River Valley. On the park's 20 miles of hiking trails, be sure to look for deer, songbirds, and other wildlife. For details about Petit Jean State Park, call 501-727-5441 or visit: www.PetitJeanStatePark.com.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Mountain State Park's diversity of habitat, from high rocky ridgetops to extensive cypress swamps, provides excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. The park's 2,100 acres present a vast diversity of habitats for wildlife, and wildlife viewing opportunities especially off the regular paths. Classified as a birding hotspot, the park offers opportunities to see bald eagles at the vistas and the rare Swainson?s Warbler at the increasingly rare cane thickets along the Little Maumelle River. For details about Pinnacle Mountain State Park, call 501-868-5806 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain.
The almost 7,000 acres of Village Creek State Park abound with wildlife. Some of the park's more easily seen wildlife include deer, raccoons, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, nine banded armadillos, and eastern cottontail. The more patient observer may be rewarded with a glimpse of a beaver, gray fox, muskrat, or possibly even a bobcat. For the bird lover, 205 species of birds that can be found in and around Village Creek State Park. The park attracts a wide variety of migratory birds as well as being the permanent home of many species of song and game birds. The park's year-round residents include Eastern Bluebirds, white-breasted nuthatches, Carolina Wrens, Pileated Woodpeckers, Wild Turkeys, Barred owls, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Carolina Chickadees. Migratory species include Mississippi Kites, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, yellow-rumped Warblers, Prothonotary Warblers, Summer Tanagers, and Indigos Buntings. For details about Village Creek State Park, call 870-238-9406 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/VillageCreek.
White Oak Lake
Rich in wildlife, White Oak Lake State Park offers regular sightings of great blue herons, egrets, osprey and green herons along the lake. On the park's nature trails, be sure to watch for white-tailed deer, armadillos, and other mammals. For details about White Oak Lake State Park, call 870-685-2748 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/WhiteOakLake.
Visitors to Withrow Springs State Park appreciate this quiet getaway within an hour's drive of the hustle and bustle of nearby Fayetteville and Eureka Springs. Be sure to hike the War Eagle Trail to watch for wildlife and see caves, rock formations, and views of War Eagle Creek. For details about Withrow Springs State Park, call 479-559-2593 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/WithrowSprings.
Woolly Hollow State Park
Nestled in the Ozark foothills, this state park is a serene getaway overlooking 40-acre Lake Bennett. Visitors can watch for birds and other wildlife at the lake's edge at dawn and dusk. The park also offers a nature trail for more adventurous wildlife watchers. For details about Woolly Hollow State Park, call 501-679-2098 or visit: www.ArkansasStateParks.com/WoollyHollow.