Wildlife & Habitat

  • Migratory Waterfowl

    Migratory Waterfowl

    Mallards, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls, American Widgeons, White-fronted Geese, Snow Geese are some of the abundant waterfowl species present on the Refuge from late fall to early spring. Wood Ducks are abundant and usethe Refuge year-round. Migrating and wintering waterfowl use a variety of Refuge wetland habitats, such as bottomland hardwood forests, moist-soil impoundments, croplands, open water areas, buttonbush and cypress swamps. These habitats provide food, cover, resting and pair-bonding areas which helps the birds meet their life cycle needs and insure that suitable numbers of birds survive the winter and migratenorthward in good physiological condition, which promotes reproductive success. The Cache and Lower White Rivers floodplains are considered the most important wintering ground for mallards in North America, according to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, with as many as 500,000 birds or more using the area.

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  • Forest Breeding Birds

    Forest Breeding Birds

    Forest breeding birds such as: Prothonotary, Swainson’s, and Kentucky Warblers, Wood Thrushes, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Pileated Woodpeckers, White-eyed Vireos, and Summer Tanagers are just a few of the different forest birds species that breed in the Cache River NWR. Some of these forest breeding birds such as warblers are Neotropical migratory birds that nest/summer in the United States and Canada and migrate south to the tropical regions of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean ("neotropics") for the winter. These birds feed primarily upon insects which are scare during the winters in North America but are abundant in the tropics during this season. The Prothonotary warbler, easily recognizable because of its brilliant yellow plumage, is an example of a Neotropical migrant. Large contiguous blocks of bottomland hardwood forest (generally > 5,000-acres), such as found on Cache River NWR, and generally are needed to support healthy populations for Prothonotary Warblers and other forest breeding songbird species. The Cache River NWR Bird List contains a list of birds that found on the Refuge, season of year they appear, and their general abundance.

  • Resident Wildlife Species

    Resident Wildlife

    Resident wildlife species are numerous on the Refuge. Bobcats, coyotes, grey and red foxes are some abundant predators that inhabit grasslands, croplands, reforestation sites and bottomland hardwood habitats throughout the Refuge. River otters, mink, beavers, muskrats and raccoon can be found in aquatic or semiaquatic locations such as rivers, bayous, creeks, oxbow lakes, cypress breaks, and waterfowl impoundments across the Cache River NWR. Fox and grey squirrels are plentiful in bottomland hardwood forests on the Refuge. Numerous bat species such as Rafinesque big-eared bats, southeastern myotis, evening bats, eastern pipistrelle, and big brown bats can be found flying overhead in bottomland hardwood forests, reforested sites, grasslands, and around rivers, bayous and cypress breaks, from dusk to dawn ins search of their insect prey.

  • Rivers, Bayous and Creeks

    Rivers, Bayous, Creeks

    The winter and spring time flooding of rivers, bayous, creeks, are the large arteries and veins that deliver water across their associated floodplains and feed the wetlands that are prominent on Cache River NWR. Water quality and quantity, and timing, periodicity, and duration of flooding, often determine what plant species ( e.g., trees, shrubs, vines, grasses) grow in these wetlands, which in turn determines the number and type of wildlife species that live and feed in these areas. In another words, water drives the wetland ecosystems that define Cache River NWR.

  • Bottomland Hardwood Forests

    Hardwood Forests

    Bottomland hardwood forests once occupied most of the Arkansas Delta (historic floodplain of the Mississippi River) and encompassed millions of acres, but presently are limited in area to less than 20% of the expanse of the original forests. The Cache River NWR makes up a few of the last large, contiguous stands of bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi Delta region. This seasonally flooded habitat is located in the floodplains of the Refuge’s rivers and bayous and is highly valuable to wildlife because of the food sources it produces annually such as acorns, berries, seeds, and insects used by waterfowl, songbirds, and resident wildlife. Willow, Nuttall and overcup oaks along with hickories, bald cypress, tupelo gum, and bitter pecan are some tree species that comprise this habitat type.

  • Moist-Soil Impoundments


    Moist-soil impoundments are wetlands that are managed by Refuge staff to produce native, herbaceous wetland plants that produce seeds and attract aquatic insects that waterfowl and shorebirds feed/rely upon during their migration and wintering periods. Annual smartweed, barnyard grass, fall panic grass, and sprangletop are just a few of these moist-soil plants that grow naturally in wetlands and flourish in these managed impoundments. High energy grain crops such as rice, milo, and millet are grown in croplands during the spring and summer through a cooperative farming program in partnership with a local farmer., and then these managed wetlands are flooded during the fall and winter to make the food in them accessible for waterfowl. The cooperative farmer keeps 75% of the crop for his share and leaves the remaining 25% for waterfowl.