Wildlife on Bond Swamp NWR
The animals that live at Bond Swamp are as diverse as the refuge, from bats that fly high in the sky to the frogs that burrow into the mud. You may not see all the animals that are listed in our Refuge Wildlife Brochure (Refuge Wildlife List), but these are the animals that could live in the area. In addition to the wildlife brochure, there is also a Bond Swamp NWR Bird List brochure available. To obtain a copy of these brochures, please call the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at (478) 986-5441, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at 718 Juliette Rd. Hillsboro, GA 31038.
Approximately 200 bird species are believed to occur on the refuge. Many species of waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds and neotropical songbirds pass through, over-winter or nest in Bond Swamp as they follow their seasonal migration routes. Numerous species of ducks and geese arrive in late fall and remain in the area until early spring. In fact, Bond Swamp and the wetlands surrounding it contain the highest concentrations of wintering waterfowl in middle Georgia.
The spring and fall are also busy times for neotropical migrant songbirds, such as Swainson's warbler, prothonotary warbler, yellowbill cuckoo and the wood thrush, as they complete their long migrations between North and South America. In recent years, numbes of these migratory songbirds has declined. This decline may be due in part to the fact that some songbirds need large tracts of unbroken forest. The Refuge is important to migratory songbirds because it protects a large area of wetland forest unbroken by wide roads, buildings or parking lots.
Bond Swamp is also home to a large number of year-round resident birds, such as wood ducks, woodpeckers and turkey. The shallow flooded swamp with abundant fish and waterfowl provide ideal habitat for another year-round resident of Bond Swamp, the federally protected bald eagle. The active eagle nest on the refuge is one of forty-eight in the state of Georgia. In addition to Bond Swamp's year-round resident pair of eagles, during the winter months eagles may temporarily use Bond Swamp as they pass through the region.
The frequent flooding that occurs along the Ocmulgee River and adjacent wetlands provides a rich habitat for numerous warm water fish species. The principal game fish in the river and its associated creeks and oxbow lakes are largemouth bass, white crappie, bluegill sunfish, red-eared sunfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish. The waters on and around the refuge also provide habitat for several fish species which are of concern to federal agencies, including the striped bass, American and hickory shad, and the shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon. These fish are anadromous, meaning that they migrate annually from coastal saltwater marshes to inland freshwater streams to spawn in the spring. The floodplain along the river edge is important habitat for these fish because it provides a safe place for young fish to mature before swimming back to the coast. One of these asadromous fish, the shortnose sturgeon, is listed by the federal government as an endangered species. Another rare fish that occurs in the Ocmulgee Rover is the robust redhorse sucker. This fish lives in Georgia rivers and was once thought to have disappeared from the Ocmulgee entirely. However, it was rediscovered in the river near Bond Swamp in 1999.
Bond Swamp supports one of the three black bear populations in Georgia, lying between the population in the Appalachian Mountains to the north and the Okefenokee Swamp to the south. A wide variety of other mammals also inhabit Bond Swamp, incuding white-tailed deer, bobcats, racoons, rabbits, beaver, mink, muskrat, otter and squirrels. All of these mammals are native, meaning they occur naturally in the area. The greatest threat to the health of the refuge comes from a non-native mammal, the feral hog. Hogs were introduced to North America by European settlers and have escaped from farms or been released over the years. Feral hogs reproduce quickly in Bond Swamp's rich bottomland hardwood forests and cause a wide variety of damage, including soil erosion and change of natural waterflows by their rooting and wallowing. They can spread disease, such as pseudorabies and brucellosis, to domestic pigs and potentially to humans. Feral hogs feed on rare and sensitive native plants, especially wildflowers, allowing non-native weedy species to invade. They compete with native wildlife, such as deer, turkey, squirrels and bear for acorns during the fall and winter. Feral hogs can also trample or eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds such as turkey and Kentucky warblers.
Reptiles and Amphibians
The combination of warm weather and wet areas at Bond Swamp provides ideal conditions for a variety of reptile and amphibian speices. Although Bond Swamp is on the northern edge of the range for alligators, they are occasionally seen on the refuge, especially on warm, sunny days. Alligators up to ten feet in length have been documented on the refuge. Observe these animals only from a distance. Visitors should be aware that there are several species of poisonous snakes on the refuge, including cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes. All animals on the refuge, including poisonous snakes, are protected by federal regulations and should not be harmed. Other common reptiles and amphibians that might be encountered at Bond Swamp include the box turtle, eastern king snake, snapping turtle, green treefrog and southern fence lizard.