Important Bird Areas

Bayou DeView Raptor Area

Arkansas

Bayou DeView Raptor Area is a 9x9 mile square centered over the town of Weiner, AR. Earl Buss Bayou DeView Wildlife Management Area (consisting of bottomland forest following the course of the Bayou DeView River), Lake Hogue, and Hood Lake fall within this IBA. The rest of the square is primarily open row-crop fields, usually bordered by fringe trees, levees, canals, and interspersed woodlots. Except for the WMA (owned by Arkansas Game & Fish Commission), all of the land is in private ownership. Raptors are easily observed perched in trees or flying over, and the open fields support immense flocks of waterfowl. Both raptors and waterfowl circulate freely among the lakes and the intervening fields.

Ornithological Summary

This site regulary supports a large nesting and wintering population of Loggerhead Shrikes, a species declining in most other parts of its range, and is one of the bird species considered by Audubon as vulnerable in Arkansas. This site regularly supports 10,000 waterfowl or more. In addition to the upbiquitous Snow Geese, there are White-fronted, Canada, and Ross Geese. The geese utilize the open fields. Flooded fields are heavily used for foraging by the tens of thousands of ducks concentrated for roosting at Claypool Reservoir and to a lesser extent at Lakes Hogue and Hood. It is for raptors that this site is especially important. In summer, the area has large populations of nesting Loggerhead Shrikes. Bottomland forests have large populations of Red-shouldered Hawks and Barred Owls. In fall, migrating accipiters, Broad-winged Hawks, Mississippi Kites, and Peregrine Falcons follow the Bayou DeView River through this area, no doubt attracted by the large numbers of rodents, passerines, and dragonflies. In winter, the area has, for at least several decades (Hanebrink et al. 1978, Lavers 1979), been noted for the major concentrations of wintering raptors, especially Red-tailed Hawks, which represent the highest winter density of Red-tailed Hawks ever reported (Garner and Bednarz 2000). Bald Eagles, Harriers, Kestrels, and Accipiters are also numerous. Rough-legged Hawks and Short-eared Owls can be found in some years. Red-tailed Hawks of at least four geographical races migrate here from the north and the north-west (including harlanii from Northern British Columbia). For a combination fo reasons (including open fields for visibility, field-edge trees and utility poles for perching, abundance of rodents in rice fields and grass-covered roadsides), year after year they concentrate in large numbers in this particular area. Garner and Bednarz (2000) found the largest numbers of hawks correlated to rodent numbers along roadsides and in rice fields particularly. This is dramatically evident in late winter when rice fields are disc-harrowed. Garner and Bednarz observed at least 50 Red-tailed Hawks in one field while a tractor was discing rice stubble on 23 February 1995 on the east side of the site (Garner and Bednarz 2000). Norman and Cheryl Lavers observed an aggregation of more than 100 Red-tailed Hawks in a similar situation on 26 January 2002 on the west side of the site. This suggests the large number of birds scattered over the area, but close enough to be within sight of one another and respond to local food bonanzas. Loggerhead Shrike is declining in all parts of its range, including most parts of Arkansas. However, in northeastern Arkansas, the species seems to be holding its own (Burnside and Shepherd, 1985). In the site, brushy edges to fields and small trees along the ditch levees, and the abundant large insects and small vertebrates during the breeding season seem to provide excellent nesting habitat for Loggerhead Shrikes. Two recent studies along roads in the eastern half of the site each located approximately 20 nesting territories, or roughly 1 territory to 1.5 miles of roadside (Marcus-Fowler 2001, Levenstein 2002). Norman and Cheryl lavers have observed pairs of Loggerhead Shrikes at approximately that density in appropriate habitat on the west side of the site.

Conservation Issues

The current landscape configuration and agricultural land uses provide suitable habitat for waterfowl and raptors. No threats have been identified at this time.

Ownership

90% of the site is privately owned by many different landowners. Approximately 5% is owned by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and 5% by the towns of Weiner and Waldenburg. The private area is criss-crossed with numerous roads, mostly along section lines, that provide visual access from vehicles. The WMA has free access.

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