Birding at Bell Slough WMA

Kentucky Warbler1 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Kentucky Warbler

A few weeks back – okay April, I’m just now getting to these photos – I visited Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area near Mayflower. It was my first time there, and I took the Kenny Vernon Nature Trail. It’s a 2.25 mile trail, and includes a variety of habitats such as flood fields, an area with a shale surface, and woods as well as elevation changes.

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There is a boardwalk at the start of the trail, which was actually flooded so I went back to town and bought rain boots to go through the water in. But, it was worth it – the day was beautiful and there were tons of birds singing. Prothonotary Warblers were actually all over this section of the trail.

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My most exciting find was a Kentucky Warbler (a first for me!!) that allowed me to get a really good look. Below are a few of my other finds:

Black-and-white Warbler 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Black-and-white Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler3 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Prothonotary Warbler
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher2 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Northern Parula 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Northern Parula
Ruby-throated Hummingbird2 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Hairy Woodpecker1 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Hairy Woodpecker
Summer Tanager1 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Summer Tanager
Swainson's Thrush 04252020 Bell Slough Wildlife Area
Swainson’s Thrush

Woodpeckers: Downy vs. Hairy

Downy Woodpecker

I finally saw my first Downy Woodpecker at my aunt’s house in Little Rock. OK, I might have seen it before but its hard to distinguish from the Hairy Woodpecker. Both are the only common woodpeckers to have vertical white strips on the back. They also have black and white wings with a comma-shaped black mark, although the mark is more obvious on the Hairy.

According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch, the easiest way to tell which one you are looking at is by the size — the Downy has a short, about one-third long bill and is smaller at about 6.5″ long while the Hairy has a long, chisel-like bill about the size of its head and is about the size of a robin, 9-13″ long.

It also helps that Downys are more likely to be found in suburban areas. The Downys have weaker, squeakier  calls with a slower drum than the Hairys, which have louder, more powerful calls and a faster drum.