In August, I completed my first Bird Island sunset tour at Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs. I was in awe. There were literally hundreds of Purple Martins coming in to roost for the night.
Bird Island, designated an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, is Arkansas’ largest known pre-migratory Purple Martin roost. It is 1,260 feet long and about 100 feet at its widest point. According to Audubon Arkansas, an estimated 8,000-50,000 birds use the area between late July and early August.
Lake Ouachita State Park now offers Purple Martin boat tours, which has the boats circling the tiny island at sunset so viewers can watch the Purple Martins and other birds come in to roost.
For my visit, one part of the island housed egrets and other larger birds, such as Little Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets and Great Egrets. The Purple Martins filled the trees and the skies covering the rest of the island. It was a nice way to end the evening — watching the birds glide across the water towards the island with a beautiful sky behind them.