Annual Trek for the Birds
Members of the Connecticut Audubon Society have been visiting Arkansas for winter birding tours since 2007. One of their routine destinations has been Warren Prairie Natural Area (NA), located in Bradley and Drew counties, between the cities of Warren and Monticello. Warren Prairie NA is home to the red-cockaded woodpecker (Dryobates borealis, RCW), listed as federally endangered, and the Henslow’s sparrow (Centronyx henslowii), a rare grassland bird that regularly winters in the saline barrens of the natural area.
Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) Aquatic Ecologist Dustin Lynch was able to lead this year's group on a tour, and once again, the birds did not disappoint our visitors, despite drizzling rain. A total of 27 species were observed, including four Henslow’s sparrows, six brown-headed nuthatches (Sitta pusilla) and an American woodcock (Scolopax minor). The group was also surprised to spot a swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus) and to hear singing of Cajun chorus frogs (Pseudacris fouquettei).
Warren Prairie NA provides critical habitat for the RCW, a keystone species for the area.
Where the RCW makes a comeback, northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and Arkansas’s state butterfly, the Diana fritillary (Speyeria diana) flourish.
A recognized Globally Important Bird Area, Warren Prairie NA is visited by birders from all over the country. As well as being home to many species, the natural area also offers traditional outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting, birdwatching, hiking and nature photography. To learn more about this natural area, visit naturalheritage.com/natural-areas/warren-prairie-natural-area.