Important Bird Areas

Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge

Arkansas

Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge encompasses approximately 15,000 acres of cropland, bottomland hardwoods, cypress/tupelo brakes, and other natural wetlands along the Little Red River and adjacent to the Henry Gray/Hurricane Lake State Managment Area. This federal refuge is an important link in protecting wildlife and its habitat. The refuge is known for significant numbers of wintering waterfowl and migrating shorebirds.

Ornithological Summary

Due to the widespread and continuing clearing of bottomland hardwood forest and the draining or cypress/tupelo swamps this refuge provides critical habitat for species that depend on these habitats. The size and quality of these habitats makes the area ideal for nesting species such as Pied-billed Grebe, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black-necked Stilt, Acadian Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Bell's Vireo, Cerulean Warbler, Swainson's Warbler Prothonotary Warbler, and Grasshopper Sparrow. The managed shorebird habitat that is provided every summer/fall is vital to such species as Piping Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and Least Tern. In fact, the refuge has recorded 50 of the 63 species on the Arkansas Birds of Conservation Interest list, 26 as known or suspected breeders, 20 as migrants, and 4 as winter residents.

Conservation Issues

Bald Knob provides secure, healthy habitat for birds. Conditions are only improving as refuge staff work to restore the hydrology of the area by building weirs and installing water-control structures to simulate natural winter flooding. In addition, staff have restored approximately 5,000 acres of wetlands by planting native bottomland hardwoods. Plans include planting additional hardwoods on marginal cropland and building additional water-control structures on the south end of the refuge.

Ownership

A National Wildlife Refuge established in 1993.

Land Use

The refuge manages a cooperative farming program on approximately 5100 acres. The refuge share of the crops (25%) is left in the field, unharvested for wildlife. Hunting and fishing are by far the largest segment of the refuge pulic use program, but bird watching, photography, and environmental education are all increasing segements.