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

Whippoorwill

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 and Photographer
Madison Woods is a local artist who makes her watercolor paints from the Ozark rocks. She also writes the articles for Hare’s Hideout. Terry Stanfill is the photographer for the Gentry Eagle Watch and is a frequent visitor to the Boxley Valley.

Ponca, Arkansas is an artists’ and photographer’s dream destination!

Ponca, Arkansas is one of the most visited nature destinations in northwest Arkansas. And guess what? It’s right around the corner from Hare’s Hideout. Many people come to hike the local trails or to put in kayaks and canoes at the Buffalo River. During summer, the low-water bridge is a popular swimming hole. A lot of people go there to capture beautiful photographs. I go there to paint.

Photos from Ponca

One of my friends, Terry Stanfill, makes regular trips from his home in far northwest Arkansas to Boxley Valley and Ponca. Here’s a few of his photos.

At the Ponca low-water bridge.
From the Ponca low-water bridge. This is the same scene, and much better photo, than mine from down on the gravel at a slightly different angle in the photo a few paragraphs below.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.
Old structure in Boxley Valley on the way to Ponca.
Old structure in Boxley Valley on the way to Ponca.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron on the rocks at Ponca.
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron on the rocks at Ponca.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.

If you’re on Instagram, you can follow the hashtag #poncaarkansas to see a lot more images of this local little hot spot for nature. while you’re there, follow @hareshideout, too! If you’re a photographer and you’d like to share one of your photos from Ponca on this page, email it to me and I’ll get it posted.

Plein air painting

I’m just beginning to learn the art of plein air painting and there’s nowhere better to set up an easel. Last week I went down to the low-water bridge at the Ponca access point. Since it was on a week day, it wasn’t crowded. In fact, I was the only one there. I started working on a watercolor of this scene. I didn’t get very far on it before I had to pack up and leave, but I’ll go back next week to finish up, or I’ll just finish using the photograph I took before I left.

A plein air painting in progress, waiting to go back on location at Ponca, Arkansas.
An unfinished painting I started on location at the Ponca low-water bridge. My paints are made from Ozark pigments and the water I used in this one is straight from the Buffalo river at my feet. It’s hard to beat this setting when it comes to nature art!
(Pssst! I do pigment foraging field trips over at Hare’s Hideout. Email me if you’re interested in that.)
Photograph © 2019 Madison Woods. Used by permission.

How to get there

Ponca is on Hwy 43 between Boxley Valley and Compton. If you’re coming north from I-40, exit north on Hwy 21. Take a right on Hwy. 43 when you get to Boxley Valley. If you’re heading south on Hwy. 21 from Hwy. 412, go south through Kingston and pass the Hare’s Hideout entrance to go on down the hill into the river valley. Take a left on Hwy. 43.

The quaint little town of Kingston, Arkansas is not far from Ponca.
The quaint little town of Kingston, Arkansas is not far from Ponca.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.

You can also get here from Harrison if you take Hwy. 43 west out of Harrison. If you reach Hwy. 21, you went too far.

Here’s a map embed from Google. That’ll make it a lot easier.

Campground near Ponca

If you want to stay around for a little while, consider camping at Hare’s Hideout! We’re just back up Hwy. 21 going north toward Kingston. Literally, just around the corner. Of course, a block corner out here in the Ozarks might be a bit different than your usual city block. It’s all relative! But seriously. We’re only a few miles away.

Hare's Hideout campground is right around the corner from Ponca, Arkansas.

About the Author and Photographer
Madison Woods is a local artist who makes her watercolor paints from the Ozark rocks. She also writes the articles for Hare’s Hideout. Terry Stanfill is the photographer for the Gentry Eagle Watch and is a frequent visitor to the Boxley Valley.

Swallowtails and skippers are two of our local birds and butterflies.

8 Butterflies of Ponca, Arkansas

There are lots of reasons folks seek out nature. During summer there are butterflies to find, and that’s always a worthy reason! Here are 8 butterflies of Ponca. Of course, they’re not just present in Ponca, or even Boxley Valley, but you’ll see them in many areas of North America. However we do have an abundance of habitats and wildflowers, and that means the chances are great that you’ll get to spot some of the following little jewels.

Lots of nature right here around Hare’s Hideout

It’s enough to indulge anyone’s shutterbug tendencies. The following photos are all from Terry Stanfill and are shared here by permission. These are only a few of the different butterflies that frequent our area. Terry can’t possibly capture them all, though, or maybe he could… but it would take me a long time to go through his millions of photos to find them. So you’ll just have to come out and see what other species you can find.

Butterflies of Ponca

zebra swallowtail
Zebra swallowtail

Zebra swallowtails can be found anywhere pawpaw trees grow. They lay eggs on the undersides of pawpaw tree leaves, so you’ll only see them where those trees grow. Here in the valley we have a lot of pawpaw trees in the deep, shady woods. Adult butterflies will drink nectar from a variety of flowers. If you’ve ever tried to get a photograph of this particular butterfly, you’ll know how hard it is to keep up with them as they flit from spot to spot!

American Lady and a skipper

There are Painted Ladies and American Ladies and they both look very much alike. Click here for a great page to help you tell the difference.

Swallowtails and skippers are two of our local birds and butterflies.
Swallowtail and Skipper
Monarchs are one of the celebrated butterflies of Ponca.
A lovely monarch.

Monarch butterflies will only lay eggs on milkweed plants, but they will drink nectar from any sweet source. These butterflies migrate to and from Mexico every year. They’ll each live long enough, if they’re lucky, to make one trip to and from.

If you didn’t already notice, those 6 butterflies (don’t forget to count the skippers) are feasting on the same type of flower’s nectar. That’s echinacea, probably E. purpurea, and the butterflies all seem to love it! It’s one of our local medicinal plants. At one time, these flowers nearly disappeared from our roadsides because folks over-harvested them. So please enjoy the flowers without picking them if you see any during your visit.

Question mark – that’s actually the name!
Ruby spot damsel fly, not one of the butterflies of Ponca, but still pretty!
Ha! Not a butterfly.

No, the image above isn’t a butterfly but a damsel fly. We have really pretty iridescent black ones, too. I really like these, so decided to throw in a picture of one from Terry’s photos over at his FB page.

Come Photograph the Butterflies of Ponca Yourself!

You can pitch a tent or bring your small camper and stay overnight in this gorgeous area. The Hare’s Hideout driveway is on the right just before the brake check pullover on Hwy 21 as you head down the big hill into Boxley Valley. If you’re coming up from the other direction, it’s the first left after the pullover. Look for our colorful sign on the gate and our red and yellow mailbox post. Book your stay through Hipcamp or call us directly. All the info is at the home page.

About the Author and Photographer
Madison Woods is a local artist who makes her watercolor paints from the Ozark rocks. She also writes the articles for Hare’s Hideout. Terry Stanfill is the photographer for the Gentry Eagle Watch and is a frequent visitor to the Boxley Valley.