Bird Island, home to Lake Ouachita’s ‘tornado of birds’, is located in the middle of Lake Ouachita. The island is known as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society. The narrow spit of land hosts 30-50 thousand purple martins in late July and early August. The birds convene there after nesting. There, they stage with thousands of others before their long migration to Brazil.
Lake Ouachita State Park in Mountain Pine has announced the 2013 Bird Island Tour schedule care of a news release sent by Park Interpreter Susan Adkins. According to the release, ‘After nesting, the birds convene there with thousands of others before their long migration to Brazil. While the roost is active, Lake Ouachita State Park gives barge tours out to observe the birds flying low across the lake, swirling around Bird Island, and finally cascading into a small grove of cypress trees just as the sun sets. While visiting the evening martin roost, tour guests may find the nesting egrets and herons equally captivating. If lucky, guests may also catch a glimpse of other wading bird alongside the martins, egrets and herons.’
Purple martins are colony nesters who depend on houses people provide across the US. Loved for their graceful flight and insect consumption, they catch their food and water mid-flight. Native Americans, Chicasaw and Choctaw hung gourds for the birds outside their homes.
The 2013 tour schedule includes trips to the island several evenings per week in July and August. A visit to the park’s webpage at www.ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeOuachita will get you a detailed schedule of upcoming programs, activities and tours. Reservations are required and space is limited. Tickets are $9 plus tax for adults, $5 plus tax for children age six to twelve and free for those under age six. To make reservations, purchase tickets, or for more information; contact the visitor center at 501-767-9366. Below is a video about Bird Island via Exploring Arkansas on AETN.