Come visit one of Arkansas’ best birding spots. Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge in White County, Arkansas, encompasses almost 15,000 acres of diverse habitat for wintering waterfowl. The acreage includes croplands, bottomland hardwoods, cypress/tupelo brakes, and other natural wetlands. This expansive refuge provides a diverse array of habitats along the Little Red River.
Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge protects and provides feeding and resting areas for migrating waterfowl. The refuge was a rice farm before the government purchased it in 1993 as part of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
Rather than dismantle the extensive irrigation systems that were in place, they were left to continue growing rice, soybeans, maize, and other grains – only now for the birds! The irrigation systems also provide habitat and simulate natural flooding that normally occurs in hardwood forests of this type. Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge staff have also restored upwards of 5,000 acres of wetlands with native bottomland hardwoods.
Since the transition from a farm to a refuge, Bald Knob has become a migratory mecca for ducks and geese. Mallards, blue-winged teal, wood ducks, Canada geese, white-fronted geese, and lesser snow geese all stop here. In fact, Bald Knob plays host to the largest concentration of wintering pintail ducks in all of Arkansas!
But Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge sees more than just ducks and geese. Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds and waders use the refuge as a migratory stopover. Commonly spotted visitors include Rosette Spoonbill, White Ibis, American Golden-Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Wood Stork, Marbled Godwit, Spotted and Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Surrounding woodlands see Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, and Yellow Warbler, while Common, Least, and Black Terns have been spotted around the ponds.
In the winter, Bald Knob even sees bald eagles!
Of course, all these wonderful birds concentrated together in one spot also attracts another transitory type of creature. Birders! According to records, some 40,000 people visit Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge every year!
Not all are bird watchers, of course. Seasonal hunting for ducks, geese, white-tailed deer, rabbit, and squirrel is legal in certain areas. Fishing is also a popular pastime in the refuge. Other mammals found in the refuge include raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, river otters, and beaver.
Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge
1439 Coal Chute Rd, Bald Knob, AR 72010
The refuge is closed from November 15 – February 28 as a waterfowl sanctuary. Learn more by visiting www.fws.gov/baldknob.
Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge Lodging
Locally owned and operated Arkansas Bed & Breakfast Inns offer uncommonly good amenities, delicious breakfasts, and a friendly advice about what there is to see and do in the area. Why stay in some stale, corporate, cookie-cutter motel or hotel when you can get real value for your dollar at an Arkansas B&B? Find your Arkansas Bed and Breakfast Inn today!