Bird Island Lake Ouachita

"Bird Island" in Lake Ouachita which is located close to Hot Springs, Arkansas is designated as an (IBA) Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. This designation was based on the impressive pre-migratory Purple Martin Roost that has been established for a number of years on the Island.

Trees and Vegetation on Bird Island Bird Island GPS - N34 35.698'  W93 19.214'  Purple Martin Boat Tours Other Birds of Bird Island

Bird Island is Arkansas's largest known Purple Martin roost. An estimated 8000 - 50,000 birds use the area between late July and early August. The island is a staging area for martins as they feed on insects and develop fat stores before migrating to South America. Bird Island is located in the middle of Lake Ouachita. Approximately 1,260 feet long, and about 100 feet at its widest point. Much of the island beneath the trees is submerged when the water level is up. The island sits about 0.5 miles from the next closest island, and approximately a mile from the nearest main land shoreline. The nearest boat launch sites are Brady Mountain Resort, Crystal Springs and Buckville Use Area.

Purple Martin boat tours out of the Lake Ouachita State Park are from July through August every Thursday evening through Labor Day with two tours set up for Saturdays, one on Aug. 21 and the second on Aug. 28. The tours will continue as long as the roost is active and go from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Cost is $9 for adults, $5 for children ages six to 12 and free for children under six. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitors Center and the boat (s) depart from the marina. Last year, it was estimated around 30,000 to 50,000 martins making up the roost during it's peak in August.

Purple Martins on Lake Ouachita are especially vulnerable to boaters, who have harassed the birds by blowing horns and walking on the island. To dissuade this, Karen Rowe, AGFC bird conservation coordinator, has asked AGFC enforcement and fisheries personnel to document any disturbance of the roost. If sufficient evidence shows the island needs protection, Rowe said AGFC could designate Bird Island an AGFC Non-Game Wildlife Management Area, offering a legal barrier of protection during the roosting season.

Contact the Lake Ouachita Visitor Center for more information.
501-767-9366.
Email:
lakeouachita@arkansas.com

Other birds using Bird Island include the Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, White IbisCattle EgretsAmerican Crow and Red-Winged Blackbirds. The  egrets, herons, and ibis have nests on Bird Island.

During the fall, winter and early spring months Bird Island finds itself busy with the Double-crested Cormorant using the island as a roost. Loons with their Concerts of calls and coots swim the waters around the island while the Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles and Osprey occupy the sky with occasional rest stops on one of the Bald Cypress found on the island.
 
Contact the Lake Ouachita Visitor Center for more information.
501-767-9366.
Email:
lakeouachita@arkansas.com

Karen Rowe, Nongame Migratory Bird Program Coordinator Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Email: krowe@agfc.state.ar.us
Hampton Wildlife Research Center
31 Halowell Lane
Humphrey, AR 72073
Phone: 877-873-4651
Fax: 877-873-4303
Cell 870-672-2279

Dan Scheiman, Bird Conservation Director, Audubon Arkansas
dscheiman@audubon.org

 

 

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