National Wildlife Refuge
|5000 Wildlife Drive N.E.
Townsend, GA 31331
Phone Number: (912) 832-4608
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Intense water level management is conducted year-round in Harris Neck's freshwater ponds to provide attractive nesting and feeding grounds for wading birds including the endan|
Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Harris Neck NWR was established in 1962 by transfer of federal lands formerly managed by the Federal Aviation Administration as a WWII Army airfield. Located in McIntosh County, Georgia, the refuge serves as an important link in the chain of refuges along the Atlantic seaboard, and is the inland base for two neighboring barrier island refuges, Blackbeard Island and Wolf Island refuges, both located southeast of Harris Neck.
Harris Neck's 2,762 acres consists of saltwater marsh, grassland, mixed deciduous woods, and cropland. Because of this great variety in habitat, many different species of birds are attracted to the refuge throughout the year. In the summer, thousands of egrets and herons nest in the swamps, while in the winter, large concentrations of ducks (especially mallards, gadwall and teal) gather in the marshland and freshwater pools.
Over 15 miles of paved roads and trails provide the visitor easy access to the many different habitats. Chosen for it's accessibility and bird diversity, Harris Neck is one of 18 sites forming the Colonial Coast Birding Trail, inaugurated in 2000.
Getting There . . .
Harris Neck NWR is located in McIntosh County, Georgia, 5 miles north of Eulonia and 50 air miles south of the port city of Savannah. To reach Harris Neck, take Exit 67 off I-95 and travel south on U.S. 17 for approximately one mile, then east on Harris Neck Road for seven miles to the main entrance gate.
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Habitat types at Harris Neck include salt marsh, mud flats, thickets, open fields, freshwater impoundments, and mixed pine-hardwood forest. Management is focused on six man-made impoundments utilized by the endangered wood stork and a variety of wading birds. Some of the ponds serve as rookery sites while others are maintained as feeding areas. Water levels are managed to attract wading birds in the spring and summer, and waterfowl in the winter.
Prescribed burning is conducted annually in the open fields to maintain grasslands/early succession for a variety of wildlife including butterflies, quail, and raptors. Several small food plots are planted each year for the benefit of resident deer and turkey populations. Deer and feral hog hunts are held annually to maintain a healthy deer population and reduce hog damage to dikes and habitat.
Several studies and censuses are conducted throughout the year including waterfowl, wading birds, and butterfly counts. The refuge contains one of the largest wood stork rookeries in the state and has experienced some of the best nest production because of availability of fresh and salt water feeding areas. The refuge was the first to construct artificial nesting structures (over 100) which have been readily accepted and used by the storks. The success of this rookery has generated research which includes feeding and nesting studies, and involves banding and satellite telemetry.