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Wildlife & Habitat

  • Prothonotary Warbler

    Prothonotary Warbler

    The prothonotary warbler is a small, brightly-colored yellow bird that frequents the tidal swamp forest in spring and summer. It is the only wood warbler in the eastern US that breeds in tree cavities. Although the neo-tropical migrant is small in stature, it has a loud, distinctive call. Visitors to the wetland boardwalk can listen for the zweet, zweet, zweet, zweet, zweet, zweet song all on one pitch. The species is declining over much of its breeding range (Florida to Wisconsin) but thriving at Presquile National Wildlife Refuge.

  • American Black Duck

    American Black Duck

    The refuge provides important wintering habitat along the Atlantic Flyway for a number of waterfowl, specifically the American black duck. These birds utilize the tidal creeks and wetland pockets in fall and winter. Similar in size and genetically related to the mallard, the American black duck can be seen flying in groups, pairs, or solo. Overall populations of this species have declined by as much as 60 percent on the wintering grounds and thus have been identified as a species of management concern. The refuge has partnered with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to further study the migration patterns of these ducks.

  • Monarch Butterfly

    Monarch butterfly

    During the summer on Presquile National Wildlife Refuge insect life is extremely active. In grass and shrub habitats, particularly along trails, flying insects offer a variety of color and sound. The dragonflies and butterflies are some of the most ornate of these invertebrates. The monarch butterfly stops by the refuge to feed on nectar and rest as it embarks on an incredible journey from the mid-Atlantic states down to Mexico, their wintering grounds. Visitors that stand very still may become a brief landing site to one of these orange and black butterflies.

  • Tidal Swamp Forest

    Tidal Swamp Forest

    The largest habitat type is tidal swamp forest. This moist soil environment is composed of a dense canopy of deciduous trees that include green ash, black gum, bald cypress, red maple, and horn beam. The goal is to protect, maintain, and restore the integrity of the refuge’s tidal swamp forest for native plants and wildlife, including species of conservation concern, and benefit terrestrial and aquatic resources of the James River watershed and Chesapeake Bay.

  • Mixed Mesic Forest

    Mixed Mesic Forest

    The refuge is managing mixed mesic forest of varying age classes. The 266-acre habitat type is characterized as very diverse, mature, and transitional forests. Tree ages range from inch tall saplings to 100 foot, 100+ year old trees. Habitat management efforts include converting fallow fields that contain young woody vegetation from successional forest to mature forest with closed canopies and a suite of representative native flora (Oak, beech, hickory, etc.)

  • Freshwater Marshes

    Freshwater marshes

    Lunar tides influence the regular ebb and flow of the James River on the 189 acres of refuge marsh. This complex habitat type contains a matrix of diverse, moisture-loving plants. Abundant communities of wild rice, common rush, and pickerel weed are readily seen, an indicator of healthy marshes. The goal is to protect, maintain, and restore the integrity of the refuge’s tidal freshwater marsh for native plants and wildlife, including species of conservation concern, and benefit aquatic resources of the James River watershed and Chesapeake Bay.

Page Photo Credits — Prothonotary warbler - L Smead., American black duck - Scott Nielsen/USFWS.
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2013
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