Woody the Ivory Bill (not)
Sorry for the poor photo, but this big fellow was at our nearly-empty bird feeder today (two days in a row) and all I had was my iPhone camera. But seeing this Red-headed Woodpecker (rare at home feeders) reminds me of our area’s unique location for bird watching.
Birding (bird watching) is very popular here due to Randolph County’s location on two of the main bird migration routes in the U. S.—the Central Flyway and the Mississippi Flyway. These merge just north of us, and their routes narrow here, concentrating the bird population as many, many bird species use these routes when flying to and from South America and the Caribbean during their seasons of migration, many nesting here each year. When birding here, be sure to watch for bald eagles, white pelicans, and the rare and feared extinct ivory billed woodpecker.
Our county offers excellent opportunities for bird watching as it contains both the uplands of the Ozarks and the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta. Two of the best spots for observing birds are the county’s two Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).
The Dave Donaldson WMA along the Black River in east central Randolph County offers, at various times of the year, one of the western hemisphere’s greatest concentrations of waterfowl. It’s also an excellent place to view the many species that nest or live year around in the riparian zones along the river and the wetland and forest areas. Access is at Shaver’s Eddy, 800 Hite Road, Biggers, AR.
The R. L. Hankins Upland WMA located in the foothills of the Ozarks in north central Randolph County offers the birdwatcher a chance to see an even larger number of bird species. Take the county road off Arkansas Highway 115 at Middlebrook as indicated by the WMA direction sign.
One of the most colorful birds that nests here each year along our rivers and in wetland areas is the beautiful Prothonotary Warbler. This bird, with its bright golden yellow, rose, and slate blue coloration, nests in the cavities of hardwood trees in riparian and wetland situations here.