Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery

Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery

977 West Fish Hatchery Road Centerton, Arkansas 72719

Official Website
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article

Tips for Birding

The hatchery is open from dawn to dusk. Parking is located on Fish Hatchery Road. Driving within the hatchery is not permitted. Enter the gates at the parking area to walk along the roads and levees between the ponds. There are ponds up the hill directly across from the entry gate (upper ponds) and also to the east of the parking area (lower ponds).

The hatchery is good for most kinds of fish-eating birds, marsh birds, and shorebirds. Loggerhead Shrikes still occur in the area. Savannah Sparrows, American Pipits, etc. are fairly common in winter. To find rails and bitterns, walk along as many wet grassy margins, ditches, and any ponds with dense emergent vegetation as you can stand. Soras are fairly common in migration, but the others are rare. Any drained fish ponds with mudflats or fine grassy vegetation are worth checking carefully for shorebirds. Sometimes there are hundreds of them. The large pond in the southwestern portion of the upper ponds area often attracts shorebirds, dabbling ducks, and herons--especially when the other ponds are full.


Birds of Interest

Marsh Wrens and Sedge Wrens are regular in migration, and these two species occasionally winter here. Loggerhead Shrikes are present mainly in the winter. Least Terns and Piping Plover are also present in migration.

Some 39 species of birds that are either rare or unusual in Arkansas have visited the hatchery. These are as follows: Eared Grebe, Tricolored Heron, Glossy Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Ross's Goose, Tundra Swan, Cinnamon Teal, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Swainson's Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Virginia Rail, King Rail, Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, Wilson's Plover, Piping Plover, American Avocet, Willet, Whimbrel, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Ruff, Red-necked Phalarope, Red Phalarope, Laughing Gull, Common Tern, Least Tern, Western Kingbird, Say's Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Clay-colored Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Yellow-headed Blackbird.

About this Location

Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery consists of a series of shallow fish ponds surrounded by pasture and suburban development. It is relatively treeless, and except for a low hill to the west, the terrain is flat. It is owned by Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. 

The hatchery, with its shallow ponds forming temporary mudflats when ponds are intermittently drained, represents a relict habitat that once was common in northwest Arkansas. Prairie habitat dotted with playa wetlands originally covered the region. Draining the playas and plowing the prairie has left the artificial impoundments of the hatchery as the only significant wetland left to accommodate waterbirds and shorebirds. The present rarity of the habitat it provides raises the hatchery to significant ornithological importance in the area.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Entrance fee

  • Roadside viewing

Content from Official Website and Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society