The refuge has four managed freshwater impoundments – Raymond, Shearness, Bear Swamp, and Finis – and each one is a little unique. Although water level management varies some from year to year and with the weather, there is a typical pattern. Water levels are drawn down in the spring to provide mudflats for migrating shorebirds. This permits the germination and growth of lush vegetation, and wading birds feed on fish in the pools that form. The impoundments are then flooded in the fall to give dabbling ducks access to the seeds of the wetland plants. In the spring the cycle begins again.
Early Successional Habitat Management
Throughout the refuge there are 1,000 acres of open fields. As the refuge plans for future habitat management priorities, these fields are maintained through mowing and control of invasive species, and are used by migratory geese in the fall and winter and by sparrows and other songbirds in the summer.
Salt Marsh Monitoring
Although the refuge’s expansive salt marshes are not actively “managed,” the refuge staff conduct routine research and monitoring activities throughout the marsh to track the integrity of the habitat and status of its wildlife. Numerous factors have contributed to the loss of interior marsh, which the refuge may address in the future through restoration.
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Birds of prey, or raptors are specifically suited to their lives as hunters. Their strong legs and powerful grasping feet with sharp talons help them catch and kill prey. Hooked bills help tear the meat. Hawks, falcons, eagles and owls are an important part of the balance of nature because they help keep insect and rodent populations in check.
The winter is a good time to look for a variety of raptors. Northern harriers fly over the salt marsh and fields. Look for the eastern screech owl sitting in the hole of a wood duck box. Bald eagles, red-tailed and Cooper's hawks can be spotted on tree branches.