County Seat: Lyons
County Size: 726 square miles
County Checklist: 249 species
DeLorme pages 47, 48, 60 & 61
Google Maps for Rice County
Best Birds: Whooping Crane, Pine Warbler (2012)
Rice County is located near the center of the state. It is bisected east-west by Highway 56 and north-south by Highway 14. The county is comprised of about 236 square miles of “dry land” and about 2 square miles of “water.” The major stream is the Arkansas River which flows across the southwest area of the county. The Little Arkansas River originates near Geneseo and flows south-southeast into McPherson County. Cow Creek, a 112 mile-long stream, is located in western and central Rice County and joins the Arkansas River in Reno County. From the town of Lyons, it is 4 miles west and 1 mile south. Rice County is probably under-birded due to the lack of water. Most of the county is a mix of cropland and pasture.
1. Towns- Many bird species can be found in the nine incorporated towns, including Alden, Bushton, Chase, Frederick, Geneseo, Little River, Lyons, Raymond and Sterling. The Sterling Cemetery on E. Cleveland Street and Sterling Lake on E. Garfield Ave. are worth stops. Lyons, the largest town in the county boasts a cemetery just north along Highway 14. Pine warblers have been seen here in the winter. On the west side of the cemetery is a small seasonal pond which may or may not hold water depending on the season. In the towns, check parks, elevators and homes with feeders.
2. Arkansas River - Two river crossings are found between Sterling and Alden. Take W. Garfield Ave. on the south side of Sterling and drive west as the road becomes Ave. W. Go to 12th Road and turn south, crossing the Arkansas River. Continue and turn west on Ave. X to 9th Road. Go north on 9th Road and just before crossing the Arkansas River use the parking lot on the west side of the road. From here you can walk the south side of the river. When finished continue driving north on 9th Road to the town of Alden.
3. Little River and Spriggs Rock Lake - Residential areas in the town of Little River can be checked. The town has an elevator and a one-block park. Drive north out of Little River on Main Street and check Bean Memorial Cemetery which is several miles north of town. Spriggs Rock Lake is 2 miles west of Little River. This is a water storage reservoir owned by the town. Capacity of the lake is 240 acre-feet with normal storage being 175 acre-feet. To reach the lake from Little River go north on State St. to the intersection of 26th Road and Ave. I. Go west on Ave. I to 24th Road. Turn south on 24th Road to the lake. There is little public access to the lake. Two homes are located on the lake and both are gated with “Private Property” signs. 24th Road narrows and winds along the west edge of the lake. Both sides of the road are heavily wooded. There are several small open areas where one can see the lake. Perhaps the best way to bird this area is to park your vehicle and walk the half-mile of road that winds along the lake.
4. Rice County roads can provide viewing of raptors, horned larks and others. The mix of pastures, crop lands, shelter belts and small shrubby ravines provide habitat diversity. One suggested county road is Ave. I (mentioned in 3) which can be driven from near Little River west to Highway 14. Upon reaching Highway 14 turn south to the Lyons Cemetery.
Updated March 2013 - RK
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