"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.
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.
Other birds using Bird Island
Ibis, Cattle Egrets,
Red-Winged Blackbirds. The egrets, herons, and ibis have nests on Bird
Karen Rowe, Nongame
Migratory Bird Program Coordinator Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Dan Scheiman, Bird Conservation Director,
Bird Island Lake Ouachita
Lake Ouachita Map