Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, located next to Beaver Lake in the Ozark Mountains ecoregion of northwest Arkansas, is the largest State Park in Arkansas with over 12,000 acres. Our mission is to provide enriching educational and recreational experiences in harmony with resource stewardship.
Hobbs State Park provides habitat for many species of wildlife, and spring is a great time to catch one of nature’s greatest musical performances: the dawn chorus of the birds!
As you listen to this dawn chorus recorded at Hobbs State Park in the lush forest along Little Clifty Creek, see if you can pick out the bird songs listed below. Be sure to turn the volume up so you can easily hear them. To help you, we have indicated the time in the video when you can hear each bird sing, (scroll down in the text below) along with links to further reading about each species.
To discover more about what you hear in the video, read on:
As the days lengthen and temperatures rise during springtime, a chorus of birds begin singing their hearts out after being mostly silent all winter. But they’re not just singing because they’re happy winter is over, although we might be tempted to do so! These skilled vocalists are mostly males that are loudly advertising their breeding territories to potential rivals and their availability for a mate. In English they are basically saying, “You guys better get out of here! This place is taken!” or “Ladies, come check out my place! I’d make a fine mate!”
Each bird species has its own unique song, although there are some well-known cover artists like the Arkansas State Bird, the northern mockingbird, which mainly imitates others. So, you don’t have to see the vocalist to identify who it is singing.
Some make it easy by saying their own name, like the jay, bobwhite, phoebe, or whip-poor-will. Other bird songs have been interpreted by humans into phrases such as, “drink your tea” (eastern towhee) or “old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody” (white-throated sparrow).
In the video:
red-eyed vireo (heard throughout the video): repetitiously sings, “here-I-am, in-the-tree, look-up, at-the-top”
hooded warbler (heard at :07, :11, :34, :48, :54, and :68 seconds): short series of slurred musical notes with emphatic end, “tawee tawee tawee-teeoo”
parula warbler (heard at :26 and :39 seconds): rising buzz with sharp final note, “zeeeeeeeeee-tsup”
fish crow (heard throughout the video): short, nasal “cah” or “cah-ah”
northern cardinal (heard at :66 seconds): high, clear, sometimes slurred whistle, “woit woit woit chew chew chew chew chew”
At the park (or in your area if you are in a part of the US where these birds frequent), you can hear some birds almost any time of day, like the red-eyed vireo. But, for the best performance you should hit the trail or be outdoors early in the morning. There is sometimes also a second peak of singing in the early evening if you’re not an “early bird”! Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to catch a concert of multiple species, including some of the best singers like the wood thrush, Swainson’s thrush, or the hermit thrush, which is only a winter resident here, with their magical, flute-like voices.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds Guide and their free Merlin mobile app are other great resources to learn about birds and their songs. Cornell has a number of live bird cameras that you can check out too. Finally, check out our calendar of events for guided interpretive programs at the park on a variety of topics, and stop by our gift shop at the park visitor center to purchase a variety of field guides and other nature-oriented books.
We’re grateful that our State Parks like Hobbs help preserve diverse habitats for our many species of birds. As the spring progresses, some species continue their migration further north to their breeding areas. Those that stay here sing less frequently, as they spend most of their time feeding hungry chicks. So, enjoy the dawn chorus of birds while you can until the next spring!
Video Description: In this un-narrated video is a woodland scene at dawn with sounds of five different bird species singing or calling and the sound of a flowing stream nearby.