Birding brings year-round joy


You can watch birds year-round in Arkansas and the winter season is a great time to do so.

The sight of wintering eagles found on the state’s larger lakes and rivers is one of Arkansas’s most well-known birding lures.

“Birding is a simple activity that anyone can do,” said Shea Lewis, an Arkansas State Parks Regional Supervisor. “Basically you can start at home with the basic bird feeder. A lot of folks are backyard birders and they keep a feeder up and just kind of keep a list of what they see in their backyard.  Many of our parks offer introductory type programs that you can go to.  The only really basic need you have to get started is a field guide or a field app and a pair of binoculars.”

There are many types of birds you can see within the state, which is related to the natural divisions in the habitats of Arkansas. “We are fortunate to have a lot of wild places, a lot of large scale undeveloped land and rural areas where birding can take place,” said Lewis.

If you look at our birding page here, you can see that ‘winter brings a variety of loons, grebes, gulls, ducks, geese, and sparrows to the state. Major waterfowl concentrations occur along the Mississippi River Flyway in eastern Arkansas, including the largest concentrations of wintering Mallards in the country. Short-eared Owl, Harris’s Sparrow, Lapland and Smith’s Longspur, and Rusty Blackbird are some of the sought-after species that winter here every year.’ The state parks also have eagle watching programs that take place during the winter.

There is also a Birding and Watchable Wildlife brochure you can check out that includes information on different species of birds in the state, viewing locations, and tips for bird watching trips. Speaking of trips, staying at a cozy cabin is a neat idea for when you want to make a trip of birding in the winter.

Birding is an activity that can stay with you not only throughout the seasons, but throughout your life. Lewis has been a birder for around 20 years and started the activity as a seasonal interpreter at Millwood State Park where he realized the park was alive with birds and he didn’t know what they were. Before too long he met friends that were birders and then he became a lister and everything else that goes along with birding. So far he has around 500 birds on his list.