Three Hard to See Birds that are Often Heard in Northwest Arkansas

If you love birds, Hare’s Hideout Primitive Campground offers superb opportunities for viewing them. Bring your binoculars and camera and head on out here! Lots of birds live in northwest Arkansas, and you can spot most of them on our acreage of Ozark mountain wilderness. But there’s a few birds that are hard to see. That’s not because they’re few in number, but that they just seem to like staying hidden more often than not.

Often Heard but Seldom Seen

Sometimes it’s hard to get a glimpse of certain birds. It’s easy enough to know they’re there, though. Just listen for them. These birds present a challenge to actually see:

  • whippoorwill
  • yellow-billed cuckoo
  • owls

Hard to See Birds

Just because they’re seldom seen, that doesn’t mean you’ll never see them. Here’s a red-morph eastern screech owl that fledged the nest earlier this year. While the mom was setting eggs, I saw her daily. Then when the young ‘uns hopped out of the nest, I saw them for that day. After that I haven’t seen them again. But I hear them at night.

Screech owls make a few different sounds, but you’ll understand the reason they’re named ‘screech’ once you hear their namesake sound. Click here for a YouTube recording of the various sounds of these hard to see birds.

Owls are generally hard to see birds, but I got to see a few screech owls real good once.
© 2019 Madison Woods

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The name I grew up hearing for this bird is ‘rain crow’. And it does seem to be true that I hear them mostly when it’s about to rain. They have a strange sound. For birds that are hard to see, this one seems to be one of the hardest for me to spot. It was only this year that I saw the first one, after hearing them all of my life. And then I saw it three or four times over a few days span. Haven’t seen it again since.

Definitely a hard to see bird. Rain crows make an interesting sound, and I hear them often but never see them.
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo © 2019 Terry Stanfill


This is one I have seen only once or twice, ever. I hear them every year when mating season starts in May. One of the old guys around here told me that it’s time to plant corn when you hear the whippoorwills start calling. There’s a recording at my website if you’d like to hear it. This one must be so seldom seen by my friend Terry Stanfill the photographer, that I can’t even find a photo of one in his Facebook feed to share.

I recently found out we have another ‘will’ sort of bird called a Chuck-will’s-widow. It sounds sort of like the whippoorwill. You can hear one of these here at this link. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard this one or not. If I did, I probably thought it was a whippoorwill.

How About You? What Hard to See Birds Do You Know?

What are the hard to see birds you know about?

About the Author
Madison Woods is a local artist who makes her watercolor paints from the Ozark rocks.

2 thoughts on “Three Hard to See Birds that are Often Heard in Northwest Arkansas”

  1. Robert, I live in Madison County, around Huntsville, and sadly It has been a few years since the sound of a Whippoorwill, blessed my ears, you can hear a bird that sounds something close, called the Chuck Will’s Widow , whitch you can hear here ( ) but that is close to the sound as I said I have heard in years. They say the moth population , which is getting thinned out, which they say is the birds main food source, is getting killed off by pesticides, leaving the bird and other birds without major food source, causing them to either leave the area, or starving. I heard this is happening in a lot of the states. It is a shame, because a spring, or summer, without the sound of a Whippoorwill, call, just makes for a sad year. Great article, thank You for sharing.

    1. Hi RJP, I also live in Madison county, but way off the highways. We hear the whippoorwills, but I think I’ve also heard those Chuck Will’s Widow you linked to. We do still have a lot of moths here, as there’s no one nearby to spray pesticides. I didn’t know that’s why they were in such decline, so thanks for sharing that.

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