Important Bird Areas

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area

Arkansas

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area is primarily upland hardwood forest. Twenty-five percent is cropland converted to a seasonal, grassy wetland. Nature trails and two blinds enhance opportunities for birding and butterflying. The area is also used for hunting and fishing. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission owns the land.

Ornithological Summary

The site regularly supports significant densities of one or more of the following bird species considered by Audubon as vulnerable in Arkansas: American Bittern, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Hooded Merganser, American Woodcock, Red-headed Woodpecker, Acadian Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler, Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk and Mississippi Kite. The site regulary supports 10,000 waterfowl (excluding snow geese) or more: because of proximity with other areas, it has the potential and at times does support 10,000 waterfowl, mainly Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Wood Duck, and Hooded Merganser. There is a roosting site for vultures on the area and supports 100 vultures or more. The site includes one or more outstanding examples of the following special bird habitats: swamp (cypress, tupelo, or mixed forest), bottomland hardwood forest, and natural lake (Grassy Lake). A MAPS banding station has operated on the area for the past two years. Dr. Jim Bednarz from Arkansas State University, Dr. Vickie McDonald from University of Central Arkansas, and groups from Arkansas Tech, Pulaski Tech, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock use the area for bird studies and workshops. The wetlands, including bottomland hardwoods and open marsh, provide feeding habitat for waterfowl and wading birds such as American Bittern, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Hooded Merganser, American Woodcock, and Sedge Wren. Especially noteworthy is the large number of feeding Little Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets in the spring. Breeding birds in the wetlands include Wood Duck, Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, Kentucky Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and Prothonotary Warbler. The Lake Conway portion of the area supports wintering waterfowl and feeding Least Terns, Bald Eagles, and Ospreys. Upland sites have breeding Northern Bobwhite and Painted Buntings. Bewick's Wren are rare in winter and fall.

Conservation Issues

There is a serious threat of hydrolgic changes, such as drought. There is a moderate threat of cowbird parasitism and a potential threat of development.

Habitat

25% of the area is a Mosit Soil Unit, which formerly was cropland and now is seasonal open wetland. This is listed as Marsh-Emergent Vegetation Habitat.

Land Use

The area is also used for hunting/fishing and other recreation and tourism.

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