Thought to be extinct for 60 years, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was spotted by kayaker Gene Sparling on the Bayou de View in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge near Brinkley in 2004, leading to further searches in Arkansas by teams of naturalists and a new-found interest in "casual birding" in the woodland areas around Brinkley by amateur birders, as well. Video of what many experts believe to be an Ivory-billed Woodpecker was taken during an expedition in the White River National Wildlife Refuge, also in the Brinkley area. Brinkley is the capital of Ivory-billed Woodpecker Country.
At the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge near Brinkley, you can experience wetlands of international importance. In fact, it’s the most important wintering area for ducks and the largest remaining tract of contiguous bottomland hardwood forest on the North America continent. Here, there are thousands of acres of bottomland forest; sloughs; oxbow lakes; over 50 species of mammals including deer, raccoon and river otter; nearly 240 species of birds including ducks, geese, wading birds and other assorted migratory birds; and 48 species of reptiles and amphibians.
The White River National Wildlife Refuge has the largest concentration of wintering mallards in the Mississippi Flyway and also has large concentrations of snow and Canada geese. The refuge is home to black bears and bald eagles. There are 356 natural and man-made lakes in the White River National Wildlife Refuge. It is also classified as a wetland of international importance.
Cache River National Wildlife Refuge headquarters are north of Brinkley and located 16 miles south of Augusta on Hwy. 33, (870) 347-2614, http://cacheriver.fws.gov. The White River National Wildlife Refuge/Visitors Center is about an hour’s drive south of Brinkley and located off Ark. 1 just south of St. Charles.
For more information about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas, see the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Web site, www.agfc.com (hyperlink). This Web site also has links to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Big Woods Conservation Partnership, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Nature Conservancy. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC Web site also has information about AGFC wildlife management areas near Brinkley which include Wattensaw and Dagmar.
Local tours are available out of Brinkley for amateur birders to search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and more than 160 other bird species living along the Mississippi Flyway.
Links of interest
Arkansas Game and Fish http://www.agfc.com
Fish & Wildlife http://www.fws.gov/cacheriver
Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory
Nature Conservancy http://www.nature.org
Audubon Society http://www.ar.audubon.org