More than 400 bird species are native to Arkansas. Most Arkansas birds are not full-time residents, meaning they spend only the winter or summer in the Natural State. Wintering residents use Arkansas as their breeding grounds. Arkansas has several wildlife refuges for bird-watchers to catch a glimpse of the state's native birds. Among Arkansas' nature reserves are White River, Wapanocca, Turpentine Creek and Holla Bend national wildlife refuges.
Birds of Prey
Birds of prey are carnivorous species that feed on small mammals, reptiles and other birds. Some physical traits of birds of prey are sharp beaks for tearing flesh and strong talons for grabbing their prey. A bird of prey's talons usually kill the prey instantly by puncturing its vital organs. Some of Arkansas' diurnal birds of prey -- birds that are active during the day -- are Mississippi kites, red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles, Cooper's hawks and red-tailed hawks. Owls are nocturnal birds of prey; Arkansas' owls are the barred owl and eastern screech owl.
Many of Arkansas' birds live in the state's wetland environments. Birds in wetlands feed on vegetation, fish and crustaceans found in freshwater habitats. Wetland birds also build their nests on lake shores and near rivers. Some of Arkansas' wetland birds are ducks, geese, grebes, herons and egrets. During the summer, marine birds such as the killdeer, ring-billed gull, American white pelican and double-crested cormorant live on the shores of large Arkansas lakes, including Lake Ouachita and Bull Shoals Lake.
Passerines are birds that spend the majority of their lives in trees. These birds are also known as perching birds or arboreal birds. Passerines build their nests on tree branches. Sometimes they swoop to the ground to obtain food. Many passerines are songbirds, which are birds that deliver melodious chirps. Among Arkansas' songbirds are the Carolina wren, purple finch, house finch, tufted titmouse, American robin and mockingbird -- the state bird of Arkansas. Other perching birds in Arkansas are the blue jay, vireo, American crow, flycatcher and summer tanager.
When birds spend their entire lives on the ground, they are called terrestrial birds. Terrestrial birds hunt for food underneath trees and in open grasslands. For nesting, these birds find tall grasses or develop hovels to lay their eggs. Although they live on the ground, terrestrial birds are capable of flight. Wild turkeys are the largest terrestrial birds in Arkansas, weighing up to 23 pounds as adults. Horned larks and northern bobwhite quails are two more terrestrial birds native to Arkansas.