More than 100,000 people participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count each year.
Join birders across the country Feb. 12-15, 2016, and record your birdwatching results to help scientists discover trends and changes in migrations and populations of birds in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Founded in 1998 by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the count was the first project to use non-biologists to collect massive amounts of data on wild birds and display the results in near real-time. Scientists combine the data from this count with other citizen-based counting projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch and the eBird program to get a big picture of what is happening to bird populations across the nation. It’s an excellent way to be involved in conservation without ever leaving the comfort of your own backyard.
Birders can choose to participate for 15 minutes up to a full four-day count.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nature centers also are great locations to enjoy this citizen-scientist activity. Each of the AGFC’s four nature centers has a birdwatching station with maintained feeders near an indoor viewing area. Field guides are available to help identify birds at the feeder, and staff are always nearby to answer questions about the birds you see.
Kirsten Bartlow, watchable wildlife coordinator for the AGFC, says the Wings Over Arkansas is another great way to get excited about birding.
“With Wings Over Arkansas, you record the bird species you see or hear on a checklist,” Bartlow said, “Once you reach certain levels, you are awarded a certificate and pin to show your accomplishment.”
Bartlow says Wings Over Arkansas is very popular with school groups and scouts, but has just as many adult participants who enjoy creating a life list of birds they’ve seen.
“Birding is something that anyone can enjoy, no matter what age they are,” Bartlow said. “And because birds can be attracted to practically any location using feeders, you don’t have to make special plans for a weekend getaway to a far off destination to enjoy the hobby.”
Visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/ for more information about the Great Backyard Bird Count. To learn more about the Wings Over Arkansas Program or visit one of the AGFC’s four nature centers, visit http://www.agfc.com.
Click here for details about the AGFC’s Wings Over Arkansas program.
Posted in Conservation, Watchable Wildlife | Tagged AGFC, Arkansas, Audubon, Back, backyard, bird, birder, birding, center, citizen, Commission, Cornell, Count, feeder, fish, Game, Great, nature, Over, research, science, watch, Wings, Yard | Leave a Comment »
Feeders are an excellent way to enjoy backyard birds, but they need to be kept clean.
Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring require a few extra preparations are needed by people who enjoy feeding songbirds.
Many avian diseases can spread through a crowded feeder if it is not kept clean, especially in warm, wet weather. Karen Rowe, Nongame Migratory Bird Program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says the situation is similar to a cold spreading quickly at a school or office.
“Birds are flocking to feeders, and are in close contact with each other,” Rowe said. “This makes it easy for a virus or bacterial infection to be spread. Many highly contagious, naturally occurring diseases within bird populations also can remain on the feeder itself if it isn’t cleaned properly.”
Concentrations of birds at a feeder can make it easier for diseases to spread if you don’t keep the area sanitary.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, feeders should be washed once to twice a month using a 10 percent bleach solution and room-temperature water. It’s also important to check the birdseed to make sure it is dry and doesn’t contain any mold or mildew. Placing multiple feeders with different types of seeds in the yard also can prevent crowding.
Even the cleanest and most well-maintained feeders can transmit infections from bird-to-bird. According to Rowe, finding a few dead or lethargic songbirds near a feeder within a week shouldn’t be a cause for panic, but it is time to take action. All feeders should be taken down and disinfected with a 10 percent bleach solution. Bird baths also should be emptied and disinfected. The seeds and hulls on the ground also should be raked up, bagged and thrown away.
After disinfection, new food or water shouldn’t be placed in the area for at least 10 to 14 days, so birds will disperse and those that have already been infected won’t continue to spread the disease so rapidly.
“Not feeding the birds for up to two weeks during winter can seem like a drastic step,” Rowe said. “But it is the only way you can be a responsible bird conservationist and prevent the disease from lingering and continuing to infect birds your feeders attract.”
Wet, warm springs can cause birdseed to mold and can stress backyard birds, making them more susceptible to disease.
Posted in Conservation, Watchable Wildlife | Tagged Arkansas, backyard, bacteria, bird, Commission, disease, feeder, feeding, fish, Game, migratory, mold, nongame, seed, songbird, virus | Leave a Comment »
Arkansas hunters harvested 393 bears in 2015. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Black Bear Association.
The results of the 2015 Arkansas bear season were presented to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission by Myron Means, large carnivore program coordinator at the Jan. 21, 2016 meeting of the AGFC.
According to Means, hunters killed 393 bears during 2015. Hunters harvested 256 male bears and 137 female bears statewide. Archery hunters accounted for 77 percent of the harvest, which is typical of bear hunting in Arkansas.
“Reproduction and cub survival were normal in the Ozarks, Ouachitas and Delta,” Means said. “However, we do have a relatively small sample size in the Delta, so that should be taken into consideration.”
James Small with a 2015 Arkansas black bear. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Black Bear Association.
Commission Chairman Emon Mahony and Director Mike Knoedl both inquired about increased bear sightings in south Arkansas and the feasibility of opening a bear season in the Gulf Coastal Plain. Means says there is a research project proposal in place to estimate the true population in that region, which will determine the validity of such a season.
“We know we have bears across that region of the state, and we try to document reports as best we can, but the reports we get come in as clusters,” Means said. “Sometimes one bear can visit multiple deer clubs, so the perception is that we have 50 bears when in reality we only have two or three. The research project should help us get the numbers on growth rates and density we need.”
Means does expect to have a bear season in the Gulf Coastal Plain one day, if the research justifies the need. He warns that it would be an extremely conservative season.
“Bears harvested in that area will likely be on private land and on bait sites,” Means said. “Any time you have that scenario, you run the risk of killing too many the first day and eliminating the population in that area.”
Posted in bear hunting, Hunting | Tagged Arkansas, Bear, black, bowhunt, Commission, fish, Game, harvest, hunt, kill, modern gun, muzzleloader, zone | Leave a Comment »
The AGFC will host a series of free landowner workshops to teach people how to conduct prescribed burns this February and March.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists will host a series of free workshops to teach landowners how to increase wildlife habitat on their property using prescribed fire this February and March.
The workshops are part of the AGFC’s Private Lands Program, a special section of the AGFC Wildlife Management Division focused on helping landowners achieve their wildlife goals at the lowest possible cost.
“When done properly, introducing fire on the landscape is one of the best and most economical ways to promote new browse and herbaceous growth for wildlife,” said Ted Zawislak, AGFC Private Lands Program coordinator. “While a lot of landowners realize the value of burning, they tend to be a little afraid of prescribed fire. Our hope is to increase their comfort level with this practice.”
Northern bobwhite are one of the many species that benefit from the grasses and plants prescribed fire stimulates.
“In one Saturday, no landowner can be an expert,” Zawislak said. “But they can have a greater appreciation of the art and science behind prescribed fire. If they choose to hire a prescribed burn contractor to burn their property, they will be a more informed consumer.”
Prescribed fire is one of the least expensive and most efficient tools a landowner can use to increase wildlife habitat.
Prescribed burns are much different than the wildfires often seen in the news. In fact, many wildfires occur because of the absence of fire on the landscape. Leaves, limbs and other debris build up on the forest floor, creating abundant fuel for a catastrophic fire. Smaller fires at the right time of year eliminate this fuel load gradually and create clearings where seed-bearing grasses and leafy vegetation can grow and provide abundant food for wildlife.
Four six-hour workshops are scheduled during February and March. Space in each of these free workshops is limited to 30 participants, and registration is required at least one week before each workshop date. Lunch will be provided. Workshop locations and times are:
Contact Clint Johnson at 877-470-3650 or email email@example.com for more information on these workshops and other Private Lands Program events.
Posted in Conservation, Hunting, Watchable Wildlife | Tagged Arkansas, Burn, class, Commission, fire, fish, Game, lesson, prescribed, quail, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
The tailwater below Greers Ferry Dam was home to the world-record brown trout for nearly two decades. Just because that record was broken doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of big fish and big action to be had on the Little Red River. Check out this “Talkin’ Outdoors” segment of anglers chasing the big bite on the Little Red.
Posted in Fishing | Tagged Arkansas, brown, Commission, fish, fishing, fly fishing, Game, Greers Ferry, Heber Springs, little, red, river, spawn, Talikin' Outdoors, trout | Leave a Comment »
Many WMA’s have different season dates than their surrounding zones. Click here to look at the available hunts and dates.
The 2016 Arkansas turkey season begins April 16, but right now is the time to apply for a permit to hunt the best public land in the state. The deadline to apply for turkey hunting permits on many Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas is 11:59 p.m., January 15.
Many public hunting areas hold enough opportunities for any hunter willing to put in the miles, but some locations are too small or too popular to handle the hunting pressure. These WMAs are reserved for those who draw a permit through a random lottery-style drawing each January. Applying for a permit is free, but hunters lucky enough to draw their desired location must pay a $10 processing fee by February 2 to claim their permit. All unclaimed permits will be available at http://www.agfc.com on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m., February 16. Visit http://www.agfc.com/licenses/Pages/PermitsSpecialWMA.aspx for more information and to apply.
Posted in Hunting, Turkey Hunting | Tagged Arkansas turkey hunting permit |
Adult zebra mussels up to 2 inches wide were found on a pontoon boat before it could be transported to Norfork Lake.
Thanks to the sharp eyes of a marina and boat transport service, Arkansas Game and Fish Biologists intercepted a vessel carrying hundreds of invasive zebra mussels on Jan. 6, 2016, before it could be launched in Norfork Lake.
Jeremy Risley, district fisheries supervisor for the AGFC said the boat had been housed in a marina slip at Bull Shoals, which has been infested with zebra mussels since 2007.
“The owner of the boat had just purchased it and had contracted the marina to move it to Norfork,” Risley said. “When the men who worked for the marina saw what they thought were zebra mussels on the boat, they called us to come out and inspect it.”
zebra mussels cause millions of dollars in damage each year to water intake structures and boats throughout the United States.
Upon inspection, the boat had many adult zebra mussels attached to its hull, motor and in its bilge area. Some of the mussels were as large as 2 inches. All zebra mussels will be removed from the boat and the vessel will require power washing and a 30-day drying period and final inspection before the boat can be launched into Norfork Lake.
To date, there have been no confirmed sightings of zebra mussels in Norfork Lake, Table Rock Lake or Beaver Lake, but the zebra mussels in Bull Shoals Lake saw a large population increase in 2014 and 2015. One adult female can produce between 10,000 and 50,000 larvae (called veligers) each time it spawns, and the species can spawn up to 5 times per year. It is still unclear how zebra mussel infestations will impact the overall health of the fishery, but they can cause native mussel populations to decline and cause serious damage to water intake pipes and other equipment left in the water. A report by the U.S. Department of State in 2009 estimated the total cost in the United States of the zebra mussel infestation from 2010 to 2020 at $3.1 billion.
“I really want to say thank you to the men who spotted the zebra mussels and called them in,” Risley said. “Any time you see something like this that doesn’t look right, it’s always best to ask for help to make sure you’re doing the right thing.”
Visit cleandraindry.org to learn how you can help stop zebra mussels and other invasive species.
Posted in Conservation, Fishing | Tagged aquatic, Arkansas, bull shoals, Commission, fish, Game, infest, invasive, lake, marina, mussel, norfork, nuisance, species, zebra |