Watchable Wildlife - Natural Animal Habitats
Tips for Seeing More Birds & Wildlife in Arkansas
We've all had it happen. You’re on a hike and hear a sound or see a flash and look up from the trail just in time to see an animal dive out of sight. Most animals see, hear and smell us, then size us up and decide whether to stay or flee long before we see them. The ultimate wildlife watching experience is "behavior watching" without interrupting the animal's normal activity. Instead of a glimpse, you can have an encounter--a chance to identify the animal, observe his behavior and for a few moments to be part of the animal's world in its natural habitat.
Let park staff know you are seeking watchable wildlife and birds native to Arkansas, and they will direct you to be best wildlife watching locations. Read these tips for a little education on how to spot more species your next time out, whether you’re birding or looking for big game.
Fade Into the Woodwork - Blend with Natural Animal Habitats
- Wear natural colors that help you blend with nature.
- Walk gently and move carefully so as not to snap twigs or rustle leaves.
- Crouch behind boulders or vegetation to blend your shape and break up the outline of your body.
- Use binoculars rather than trying to get too close to an animal.
Put All Your Senses to Work
You can encounter wildlife in Arkansas with senses other than sight. "Feel" all that is around you by deepening your environmental awareness and your sense of smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
- Cup your hands around the back of your ears to amplify natural sounds.
- Use your peripheral vision rather than turning your head.
- Feel and smell the breeze.
- Look above and below you. Animals occupy niches in all vertical and horizontal layers of a habitat.
- Total silence can speak volumes. Animals may fall silent or take refuge when a predator is passing through an area.
Think like an Animal
Imagine how the animal you are seeking spends its days. Check field guides to find out about the animal's life history and natural habitat.
- The edge between two natural animal habitats (field and forest, shoreline, etc.) is a good place to see residents from both habitats.
- Dusk and dawn are best bets for viewing watchable wildlife, and are good for photos, too.
- Anticipate likely areas: game intersections, perches, ledges overlooking open areas, and drinking sites.
- Take note of the season and guess whether the animal will be searching for a mate, feathering its nest, fattening for the winter, or preparing to migrate.
- Consider the weather. After rain, for instance, many animals emerge to feed.
- When you see one animal, be quiet and watch. Often there will be others nearby.
Visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Website
Get Started Watching Wildlife on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website. You'll find interesting information about the animals that live in our state. This is a great resource for anyone interested in watchable wildlife in Arkansas.