Arkansas Wildlife Migration

Changing seasons bring arrivals and departures of many species of animals to and from Mount Magazine. This is most evident in spring and fall. Birds seem to arrive in waves during spring storms. Bad weather can cause migrants to stop and seek shelter and food on their journey north. Shortly after the rain quits is a good time for Arkansas birding enthusiasts to walk a trail with your binoculars to find woodland songbirds. Many stay for only a short time before continuing north.

Some species will stay to nest. Black-throated Green and Hooded Warblers, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Indigo Bunting, Ovenbirds, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and among those birds that winter in southern latitudes but choose Mount Magazine as to raise their young. This list includes Arkansas birds of prey like Broad-winged and Cooper's Hawks.

The arrival of nesters is often easy to detect with their bright colors and joyful songs. However, their departure is often quiet. They might be here today and unnoticed tomorrow.

In Arkansas, birds of prey can put on quite a show as they head south from their northern ranges. Sometimes hundreds of hawk, mostly Broad-winged, can be seen spiraling effortlessly upward on thermals north of the mountain–truly one of the most impressive things to see in Arkansas. After reaching as high as possible they separate from the "kettle" and glide over the mountain, sometimes just over treetops. For every 2,000 feet in elevation hawks can glide 2 ½ miles. A good place to watch for this spectacular show of Arkansas birds of prey is on the northern tip of Cameron Bluff. Careful observers can identify species of hawks, falcons, vultures, and even eagles during migration.

Birds are not the only migrants over Mount Magazine. Several species of butterflies, Monarchs most notably, migrate over and around Mount Magazine. Because of the Monarch migration route, September is the best month to see Monarch butterflies on Mount Magazine. During daylight hours they can be seen a few at a time refueling at roadside wildflowers. As sun sets they gather in clusters of dozens, possibly more, in trees. Park interpreters and volunteers capture, tag, and release monarchs during their southern passage. Some of these tags have been found at their wintering grounds at the end of the Monarch migration route near Mexico City over 1,150 miles away.

Few, if any, of those Monarchs will return to Arkansas. However, their offspring will lay their eggs and die. This next generation with repeat the breeding cycle while continuing north on the Monarch migration route. Eventually, the fifth generation will start heading south from as far north as Canada in August. They will make their way to the same Mexican Mountains having never been there before. Thus another cycle of life continues.
 
 

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