What kinds of birds can you find in Hot Springs National Park?
This question is hard to answer because of the vast number of birds found in the park. Did you know there have been over 150 species recorded here? As you can imagine, there was no way to include this many birds in the below article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed.
Below I have listed the TEN birds you are most likely to find while visiting Hot Springs National Park.
#1. Northern Cardinal
- Cardinalis cardinalis
- Males are a stunning red with a black mask and throat.
- Females are pale orangish-brown with red on their crest, wings, and tail.
- Both sexes have a crest on their head and a short, thick bill that is perfect for cracking seeds.
Northern Cardinal Range Map
Without a doubt, the Northern Cardinal is one of the most popular birds in Hot Springs National Park. They are not only beautifully colored, but they are common to see!
And with a little practice, it’s easy to identify Northern Cardinals by their songs and sounds. Interestingly, unlike most other songbirds in the United States, even females sing.
- The most common song you will probably hear is a series of clear whistled melodies that sound like the bird is saying “birdie-birdie-birdie” or “cheer-cheer-cheer.” (Listen below!)
#2. House Sparrow
- Passer domesticus
- Males have gray crowns, black bib, white cheeks, and chestnut on the sides of their faces and neck. Their backs are predominantly brown with black streaks.
- Females are a dull brown color with streaks of black on their backs. Their underparts are light brown. This sparrow can be distinguished by the tan line that extends behind its eye.
House Sparrows are an invasive species (originally from the Middle East) and are now one of the most abundant and widespread birds in Hot Springs National Park(and the world)!
Range Map – House Sparrow
House Sparrows compete with many native birds, such as bluebirds, for nest cavities. Unfortunately, these invasive species tend to win more times than not.
House Sparrows owe their success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Unlike most other birds, they love grains and are commonly seen eating bread and popcorn near picnic and dining areas.
House Sparrows can be heard across the entire planet. In fact, pay attention the next time you’re watching the news in another country. Listen for a simple song that includes lots of “cheep” notes.
#3. American Robin
- Turdus migratorius
- A beautiful thrush that features a rusty red breast and a dark head and back.
- Look for a white throat and white splotches around the eyes.
- Both sexes are similar, except that females appear paler.
American Robins are one of the most familiar birds in Hot Springs National Park!
They inhabit a wide variety of habitats. These thrushes are comfortable around people and are common to see.
American Robin Range Map
Even though they are abundant, American Robins rarely visit bird feeders because they don’t eat seeds. Instead, their diet consists of invertebrates (worms, insects, snails) and fruit.
These birds also commonly nest near people. Look for an open cup-shaped nest that has 3-5 beautiful, distinctive sky blue color eggs. American Robins sing a string of clear whistles, which is a familiar sound in spring. (Listen below)
Many people describe the sound as sounding like the bird is saying “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.”
#4. Canada Goose
- Branta canadensis
- Large goose with a long black neck and a distinctive white cheek patch.
- Brown body with a pale white chest and underparts.
- Black feet and legs.
Canada Geese are very common in Hot Springs National Park.
I’m sure you probably recognize these birds, as they are very comfortable living around people and human development. Look for them wherever there are grasses or grains to eat, such as lawns, parks, and golf courses.
Canada Goose Range Map
The Canada Goose is also easy to identify while flying overhead. If you see a flock of large birds in a V-formation, then it’s most likely them. Flying this way helps conserve energy, and different birds take turns leading the way.
Canada Geese are often heard in Hot Springs National Park.
Listen for a wide variety of loud honks and cackles. Listen above! Interestingly, these geese can live a long time! Their lifespan ranges from 10 to 24 years, but one individual banded in 1969 was found again in 2001, 32 years later!
#5. Tufted Titmouse
- A grayish bird with white underparts, a peach wash on the sides, and a crest on top of its head.
- Look for a black forehead and large, dark eyes.
- Males and females look the same.
These acrobatic birds are common to see in deciduous forests in Hot Springs National Park. They are often seen flitting from tree to tree, looking for food while hanging from branches upside down or sideways.
Tufted Titmouse Range Map
Have you ever heard a Tufted Titmouse?
These birds are very vocal and my guess is that you will recognize their sounds after listening below. First, their song is a fast, repeated whistle that sounds like “peter-peter-peter.”
- Anas platyrhynchos
- Males have a bright green head, thin white collar, dark reddish-brown chest, yellow bill, and a black butt with a white-tipped tail.
- Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
- Both sexes have purple-blue secondary feathers on their wing, which is most visible when they are standing or flying.
My guess is that almost everyone is familiar with the Mallard. These ducks are definitely one of the most common water birds in Hot Springs National Park!
Mallard Range Map
Mallards are extremely comfortable around people, which is why these adaptable ducks are so widespread. They are found in virtually any wetland habitat, no matter where it’s located.
When you think of a duck quacking, it is almost inevitably a female Mallard. If there is a better duck sound, we haven’t heard it! Interestingly, males do not quack like females but instead make a raspy call.
#7. Carolina Wren
- Thryothorus ludovicianus
This wren species is a colorful reddish-brown with a distinct white throat and eye line. The edges of their wings and tails are darkly barred, and the bill is long and thin. Both males and females appear similar.
Even though Carolina Wrens are common in Hot Springs National Park, due to their secretive nature, these birds can be hard to see. Look for them in shrubby and bushy areas that provide lots of hiding places.
Carolina Wren Range Map
Carolina Wrens are often heard before being seen!
Their song, which is only sung by males, is usually three-parted and sounds like they are saying “tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle.“ These birds are impressive singers, and individuals can make many variations of this song, so you never know exactly what you will hear.
#8. Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadees are small birds with a distinctive black cap and bib, dull white cheeks, a gray back, and white underparts. Both males and females look the same.
Carolina Chickadee Range Map
Look for them in a wide variety of habitats across the southeast. You should be able to spot Carolina Chickadees in Hot Springs National Park in deciduous and mixed woodlands and swampy areas. They also adapt well to people and are extremely common in near human development!
What sounds do Carolina Chickadees make?
The most common song you will hear them making is a four-note whistle, which sounds like “fee-bee-fee-bay.” Typically, the first and third notes are higher in pitch than the second and fourth.
Press PLAY above to hear a Carolina Chickadee!
#9. Pileated Woodpecker
There are not many birds that will make you stop what you’re doing quite like a Pileated Woodpecker. These birds are HUGE, and adults can be up to 19 inches (48 cm) long and have a wingspan of 30 inches (76 cm)! For reference, this is about the size of a crow.
In addition to their large size, these birds are mostly black but with white stripes on their face and neck. Look for a large triangle red crest on the top of their heads. Males have a red stripe on their cheek, where the stripe is black on females.
Pileated Woodpecker Range Map
Pileated Woodpeckers are common birds in Hot Springs National Park in large, mature forests with lots of dead and fallen trees. They rely on rotting wood consisting of ants, wood-boring beetles, and termites to find food. Although they will supplement their diet with fruits and nuts.
Press PLAY below to hear a Pileated Woodpecker!
These birds are quite vocal, and you should have no problem hearing one. Listen for a loud “cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk,” which rises and falls in pitch and volume.
#10. Dark-eyed Junco
- Junco hyemalis
- Smooth and soft-looking slate gray with a white belly.
- Small pale bill, long tail with white outer feathers.
- Dark-eyed Juncos have various color patterns depending on the region.
Dark-eyed Juncos are one of the most common birds in Hot Springs National Park in WINTER. You can easily identify these birds by how smooth their feathers look. Or look for a white flash from their tail feathers as they are flying away.
Dark-eyed Junco Range Map
This species is found in fields, parks, woodlands, and backyards. Dark-eyed Juncos have earned the nickname “Snowbirds” or “Winter birds” because they only show up every winter in many parts of their range.
Males sing a two-second loud musical trilling song that can carry hundreds of feet away. In addition, both sexes also sing softer songs that are a mixture of warbles, trills, and whistles.
Which of these birds have you seen before in Hot Springs National Park?
Leave a comment below!
To learn more about other birds that live in Hot Springs National Park, check out these guides!
The range maps above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!