Eagle Watching Opportunities Abound in Arkansas WinterJan 26th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Sports
LITTLE ROCK – When winter is in full swing in late January and in February, numbers of Arkansans and their visitors who enjoy the outdoors go looking for eagles.
A few decades back, seeing an eagle was rare in the state. Now you stand a good chance of seeing one or more in nearly every section of Arkansas.
Where can you find eagles? Start your thinking with water. The big, majestic birds are usually found around water because fish make up a major part of their diet. The Arkansas River all the way across the state is prime eagle territory in winter. So are the big man-made lakes and even smaller lakes.
For beginners in the eagle viewing game, participation in a specially designed state park program can help. Some of these state park eagle events are long-running, annual activities. Dress warm, take the family and head out for a day of wildlife watching.
Some other tips for eagle outings:
Look for flying eagles in the skies and roosting eagles in treetops. Eagles soar with wings straight out from their bodies; vultures soar with wings in a V shape. Scan the treetops carefully. Sometimes eagles will sit in dead or leafless trees, making them easy to spot, but at other times one may be tucked up in the boughs of a pine tree.
Use binoculars. You can adjust the neck strap for yourself; focus the eyepieces for your own eyes, and practice finding objects while looking through them. If you don’t have a pair of binoculars, call ahead to a state park you’re visiting; it’s likely they’ll have some you can check out or share.
Take along bird field guides. Even though you’re planning to see eagles, you can also view other wintering birds during your outing. Different species are common in the natural divisions of Arkansas, and water areas give glimpses of loons, grebes, herons and a variety of ducks.
Some upcoming Arkansas State Parks eagle events:
Bald Eagle Bonanza at Lake Catherine State Park near Hot Springs, Jan. 20-22. Lake tours, guided hikes, guest speakers and live birds demonstrations. Phone 501-844-4176 or go online to http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakecatherine.
Eagle Cruise on Beaver Lake at Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. Pre-registration required at 479-789-5000. Cost is $10 plus tax for adults and $5plus tax for children 6 to 12.
Eagles Et Cetera at DeGray Lake Resort State Park near Arkadelphia. This is Arkansas’s oldest eagle event. Lake tours, guided walks, live bird demonstrations and other activities. Phone 501-865-5850 or go online to http://www.degray.com/.
Eagle Watch Weekend at Lake Ouachita State Park near Mountain Pine and Hot Springs, Feb. 25-26. Lake tours and other programs and activities. Phone 501-767-8366 or go online to http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakeouachita.
Hunters and wildlife watchers urged to report swans
LITTLE ROCK — Hunters and wildlife watchers are urged to help count and identify Arkansas’s wintering swan populations.
Karen Rowe, nongame migratory bird program leader with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said “Numbers of both trumpeter and tundra swans wintering in Arkansas appear to be on the increase. Some of these swans are wearing neck collars that can tell us the state of origin of the swan.” We need the public’s assistance in not only reporting the location of the swans; more importantly, we need their assistance in noting the collar color and reading the alpha numeric code on the collars.”
Some of the swans wearing collars are those released as a part of the Mississippi Flyway Council’s reverse migration experiment. This experiment attempts to re-establish historic swan migrations south into Arkansas and other southern states from the swans breeding areas in northern states.
Trumpeter swans are the largest birds native to North America. Adult males measure 57 to 64 inches long and weigh about 25 pounds. Adult females range from 55 to 60 inches and weigh about 20 pounds. Their wingspans can approach 8 feet, and they fly with their extremely long necks outstretched.
About 5,000 trumpeter swans live in the Midwest, most of them in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. They generally migrate in family groups and prefer to feed on aquatic vegetation. Little is known regarding the numbers and groupings of southward migrant swans, so the location and characteristics of the sites they frequent and the duration of use is important to both the Trumpeter Swan Society and AGFC.
“By providing information and collar data on swans in Arkansas, observers can help document the changing distribution of wintering trumpeter swans and help identify potential new and important swan wintering sites in our state,” Rowe said. “Binoculars or a spotting scope are often needed to read the neck collar identification code. Reports that contain the collar letter and number are extremely valuable because they enable us to track a particular swan, not just across Arkansas, but throughout its journey up and down the Mississippi Flyway. We really appreciate the observers’ efforts to obtain these important but difficult to read neck collar I.Ds,” Rowe explained.
Observers should note the exact location of trumpeter swans using a GPS when possible and if the birds are wearing collars, write down the number and letter code on the collar and send that information to Rowe at email@example.com, or complete the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ONVLAfxzHa38N5bhYe_2bimQ_3d_3d.
Because it can be difficult to tell the difference between tundra and trumpeter swans in the field, the public is encouraged to visit http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org/swan-identification.html to learn the key differences in bill shape and other physical characteristics of these two species.
Prescribed burning workshop planned for woodland owners
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Prescribed Fire Council will be conducting a prescribed burning workshop for woodland owners beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11. The workshop will be held at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Livestock and Poultry Experiment Station near Batesville.
At the workshop, landowners will be taught about the factors that influence effective and safe burns and the environmental benefits of controlled fire.
Classroom time will include fire planning, fire behavior, ignition techniques, weather, fire laws, and use of fire for forest and quail management.
Weather permitting, there will be a prescribed burn demonstration to illustrate and teach prescribed fire planning. Space is limited, so register early. A $20 registration fee covers workshop materials, refreshment breaks and lunch. Participants should dress appropriately for the afternoon field exercise.
To register, contact the Arkansas Forestry Association at 501-374-2441 or look online at www.arkforests.org, under “Forest Landowners.”