Bird Watching at Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park, initially known as the Hot Springs Reservation, is considered to be the first national park in the United States, and of the world. The park, situated in central Garland County, Arkansas, has a rich history and cultural correlation that makes it stand out from the rest. Although smaller than other national parks, it stands as an icon for healing and was recognized as the “American Spa” of the 20th century. The reserve gradually grew into a tiny yet charming spa town. Naturally, the park’s and the town’s history is closet related.

Besides the impressive architecture of the nine bathhouses that is the central theme of the park, the natural wonders match the opulent “spa”. Hot Springs National Park features ancient thermal springs, mountain views, extraordinary geology, forested hikes, and several creeks, right in the middle of town.

Major Attractions at Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs is the only national park to include an urban street decorated with historically significant stone buildings, the Bathhouse Row. The park includes sections of the town’s downtown, labeling it as one of the most accessible national parks. Hot Springs Park is known for its thermal pools with water temperatures reaching as high as 143°F. The landscape offered is mostly rugged mountain slopes, creeks, valleys, and old-growth forests that are ideal for a rich ecosystem of animals, plants, and birds.

One of the main attractions, the Fordyce Bathhouse, attracts many people to visit the national park each year. The eight historic buildings, Bathhouse Row, and the Grand Promenade, a pathway routing a park-like landscape, are appreciated for their architectural marvel. There are several campsites and hiking trails in the Hot Springs Mountain and North Mountain areas. Aside from the usual park-themed outdoor activities like birdwatching, relaxing massages and hot water baths are quite popular while visiting Hot Springs National Park.


Bird Watching at Hot Springs National Park

The comfortable climate and forested habitats presented by Hot Springs National Park welcome many bird species. Birding is possible throughout the year however the species changes with the spring and fall migration patterns.

Each year, through the contribution of citizen scientists, an annual Christmas Bird Count takes place. The collected data is computed by the Hot Springs National Park, the local chapters of the National Audubon Society, and the City of Hot Springs to assess the current population and conservation status. Last year the count reached approximately 9,000 birds from 113 separate species. Hot Springs has also tied for the highest species diversity in the state.

The Hot Springs ecosystem supports a variety of songbirds, Wild Turkeys, and Raptors among other types. Some of the commonly spotted species include the Great Blue Heron, Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Greater Roadrunner, and Great Horned Owl, as well as numerous Woodpeckers, Warblers, and Vireos.

The Grand Promenade behind the Bathhouse Row is one of the best places for birdwatching the many species of birds that nest in both the deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. Hiking down the West Mountain trails in the early morning is another way for bird watching in Hot Springs National Park.

10 Birds to See at Big Bend National Park

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkeys are large birds with long legs and small heads. They are found throughout North America. Their population at one time was in great decline, but has recovered and is not at risk of endangerment. They usually live in mature forests, along roads, or in wooded backyards. They travel in flocks and roam the ground looking for nuts, insects, and berries. Wild Turkeys usually look for food in the early morning hours. They lay 10 to 15 eggs and make their nests on the ground at the base of trees. They are not migratory birds.

  • Wild Turkey

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks have wide, round wings, and a short red tail. They are the most common Hawks and are found all throughout North America. Their population is steady with some recent increases. They live in open fields, prairie groves, and mountains. They perch up high to look for their prey. Red-tailed Hawks eat small animals like rabbits and voles. They lay 2 to 3 eggs in nests 120 feet high in trees. Their nests are made with sticks and shaped like a big bowl. Red-tailed Hawks residing in the north migrate south; however, those already in the south are permanent residents.

  • Red Tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

American Kestrels are very colorful. They have a blue-gray head, with rusty-red wings, back, and tail. They can be found throughout North America. Their population in the north has declined by a small amount, but everywhere else their population is steady. They make their homes in open country, farmlands, and wood edges. American Kestrels are the smallest falcon in North America. They can be found on wires or poles hunting for food. American Kestrels mostly eat large insects and some small mammals. They lay 4 to 6 eggs and build their nests in dead trees, cliffs, or dirt banks. American Kestrels found in the north migrate to the south; all others are permanent residents.

  • American Kestrel

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright green birds with ruby red throats. They are found throughout eastern North America. These Hummingbirds are not endangered. They make their homes in gardens and near the edge of the woods. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds enjoy flowering gardens and woodlands so they can get nectar. They will also eat small insects. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds beat their wings about 53 times a second! They build and camouflage their nests in trees and lay 2 eggs. Almost all the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate south to Mexico and Central America in the fall.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owls are brown and white and have two pointy tufts that look like ears. They are found throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Their population is widespread and common and not at risk of being endangered. They make their homes near forests, streams, and open country. Great Horned Owls are the most recognized owl because they make a deep hooting sound. They have a great night vision to hunt in the dark. Great Horned Owls like to eat frogs, mice, birds, and sometimes mammals bigger than themselves! They lay 2 to 3 eggs and will use old nests from other large birds. Sometimes they add feathers to their nests. Great Horned Owls do not have a regular migratory route; however, some have been seen moving south for the winter.

  • Great Horned Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfishers have large heads with thick, pointed bills. They are blue-gray with white on their wings and tails. They are common across North America. Belted Kingfishers are not endangered, but their numbers have decreased recently. They live near shores and streams. Belted Kingfishers dive to catch fish and crayfish to eat. They will cough up pellets of indigestible parts, like bones and scales. They lay 6 to 7 eggs and make their nests in the ground as long tunnels. Migration is not common, but some Belted Kingfishers migrate south along rivers.

  • Belted Kingfisher

Black Vulture

Black Vultures are all-black birds with little white stars under their wingtips. They reside in eastern North and South America. Black Vultures found in the southeast have declined in population, but are not endangered. Their habitat is in open country and they avoid the mountains. They do not have a great sense of smell, so they follow Turkey Vultures to an animal carcass to eat. Black Vultures do not have a voice box. They lay 2 eggs and build their nests in a hollow log, tree, or cave. They migrate in small numbers in the winter.

  • Black Vulture

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are known for their beautiful blue and white color. They have rounded wings and a long tail with a small crest on top of their head. They are found in the Midwest and the eastern United States. Blue Jays are common and not at any risk of being endangered. Their habitat is oak and pine trees, gardens, and near towns. They are a common songbird with a noisy call. Blue Jays love to play with acorns and will store them in the ground for later. They like to visit home feeders and eat suet and seeds. They lay 4 to 5 eggs in nests made of weeds, twigs, grass, string, paper, and yarn. Both parents will help feed their young. Most Blue Jays do not migrate, but some have been seen moving south during the fall.

  • Blue Jay

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are blue-gray with a white-edged tail. They are found throughout North America. Their population is stable and increasing some. They make their homes in oaks, pines, and thickets. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are known by their soft call and have the nickname “Little Mockingbird”. They mostly feed on insects and sometimes spiders. They lay 4 to 5 eggs in nests made from plants, bark, grass, feathers, and animal hair. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers migrate south by day.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds have a royal blue back and head. Their chest is a red-brown color. They are primarily found in the eastern United States. Eastern Bluebirds have had a recent increase in their population with help from nest boxes. They make their homes on farms and in open country. These birds have been sited as far south as Nicaragua in Central America. They like to eat insects, berries, and fruit. Eastern Bluebirds will come to a feeder if you have mealworms. They build their nests out of grass, weeds, twigs, and sometimes feathers and animal hair. They lay 4 to 5 eggs. Eastern Bluebirds are generally permanent residents; however, Bluebirds in the north migrate in spring and fall.

  • Eastern Bluebird

Final Thoughts

While Hot Springs may be relatively smaller in the area among the different national parks, it is rich in history, culture, and species of birds, other animals, and plants. Many varieties of birds can be easily observed year-round in the forested area and the seventeen hiking trails through the Hot Springs Mountain and the central town area of the park.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At the Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

Bird Watching Binoculars

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing birds at Hot Springs National Park is the 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

Please Share to Help Us Get Kids Bird Watching