Sneak A Peek at Winter Wildlife in and around Eureka Springs
(Eureka Springs, AR) – When ol’ man winter blows into Eureka Springs, it is often a wonderful time to see some wonderful wildlife. No leaves to block your view up high; less underbrush down low; not a lot of people traffic on trails; plus a certain quietness of the acres and acres of forestlands surrounding this quaint village, perfect for moving among the hills and hollows with a watchful eye.
This list that follows is far from an all-inclusive list of the fauna to be seen in the Eureka Springs’ area, but it should be enough to whet your appetite for going in search of a look-see for winter creatures. You may or may not see any of these, but then again, you may see them all and a few not listed here.
Deer – Step out no farther than downtown Eureka Springs and the surrounding neighborhoods to see deer, deer and more deer. They are everywhere. Bucks, does, fawns and lots of “cousins” are best seen early morning and early evening but please be careful. These deer are notorious for running in groups. So just when you feel the last one has crossed a street, here come a few more.
Elk – Just 1 Hour south of Eureka Springs near Ponca along the Buffalo River Region are herds of elks. These majestic creatures casually graze paying no attention to the sometimes hundreds of visitors who have pulled their vehicles off the side of the highway to see and photograph these majestic creatures.
Bald Eagles – There is no bigger thrill than seeing our national bird in nature. Most often seen in treetops, but occasionally seen sweeping down on the still river waters of the White and Kings to capture a tasty fish in their sharp talons. Seeing this, and/or capturing it on video, is the ultimate in natural viewing. It is worth noting that with Northwest Arkansas being the “chicken capital” of the United States, eagles will gather near chicken houses for an easy carrion treat. Learn More
Wild Turkeys – Breathing easy following Thanksgiving, wild turkeys can be seen walking along the shorelines of Eureka Springs adjacent water sites in flocks, especially around sun-up and sun-down.
Black Bear – Although they should be in hibernation, the occasional black bear can be seen along the lakeshore near Beaver Dam and around the trails near the river below the dam.
Various Waterfowl – These migrating feathered friends like mallards and geese often drop down into area lakes and rivers for a rest along their migration paths. It is usually their unusual sounds that cause you to go looking for these travelers whether resting on the water or methodically soaring in a V-formation overhead.
Turtles, River Otters & Mink – Along that same White River bank area, playful otters and mink can be seen frolicking in shallows. These furry jesters can also be seen doing a little fishing. A slow moving turtle can also make a winter appearance in these same areas.
Hawks – Whether a red tail or sparrow or other species, hawks –like eagles- feed on carrion. So many of the eagle areas are shared with hawks. Hawks will also swoop down on resting waterfowl that look like they are weakened or injured.
Heron – This large elegant, fish-eating wading bird is unmistakable. A creature with long legs, a long S-shaped neck and long pointed bill struts as it walks in and glides beautifully just above the water near Eureka Springs at Beaver and Holiday Island.
Birds, Birds & More Birds – Lake Leatherwood birders have reported seeing such airborne species as Pilated Woodpeckers and other “drummers”, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, cardinal, crow, turkey and black vultures, to name just a view. In the Mississippi Flyway winter patterns bring the Prothonotary Warbler and Swallowed-tailed Kites. Field glasses, a keen eye, and a still demeanor will net some wonderful sightings.
Various Other Animals – No list is ever complete, but other wildlife that may be spotted include squirrels, chipmunks, red and gray foxes, feral hogs, bobcats, coyotes, armadillos, raccoons, opossums, skunks and signs of a gnawing beaver. Hikers should also be on alert for timber rattlers, copperheads, and plenty of non-poisonous snakes, too.
Where To Look – In addition to “urban Eureka Springs”, be sure to check out the nearby trails in such places as Black Bass Lake, Hobbs State Park, Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area, Buffalo National River, McIlroy Madison Wildlife Area, as well as areas just north of Eureka in southern Missouri like the Mark Twain National Forest, and their Roaring River State Park.