Wildlife & Habitat

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 outlined the fundamental wildlife conservation mission of the Refuge System, described as ‘wildlife first’. At Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, the fish and wildlife species and the habitats are closely connected to each other and the distance from the ocean and the sound, soils, shallow water tables, and flooding frequency on the refuge. The different wetland habitats on the refuge support different suites of wildlife species. Some species, such as white-tailed deer, range over the entire refuge. Other species, such as the secretive marsh birds, are very particular about residing exclusively in brackish marshes. Most waterfowl species only reside in the refuge’s marshes and most soil vegetation units during migration. Colonial nesting birds nest on exposed soil close to the water. Shorebirds reside on beaches and drained moist soil units. Songbirds and rabbits occupy in the refuge maritime scrub shrub community. Ospreys and bald eagles nest in the tops of trees that have been killed by lightning and are located near open water so they can catch fish close to their nests.

  • Birds

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    As a result of Currituck National Wildlife Refuge’s varying natural communities, visitors may encounter a number of different species of birds.

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  • Hooded Warbler

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    Hooded warblers are occasionally on the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in the fall. It does nest on the refuge, but it is not common to find it in the spring and summer during nesting season.

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  • King Rail

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    King rails are large rails that inhabit brackish and freshwater marshes. They eat crustaceans, especially crayfish, aquatic insects, and small fish.

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  • Prairie Warbler

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    Prairie warblers are commonly found nesting on the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in the spring and summer. They spend the winter in Central America and the West Indies. They are found in scrubby fields and regenerating forests throughout the eastern and south-central United States.

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  • Habitat Types

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    Currituck National Wildlife Refuge is a typical southeastern United States coastal barrier island system that has formed dunes, brackish marshes and forested swamps in the Coastal Plain region. There are five natural communities within the refuge boundary: dune grass, maritime dry grassland, maritime shrub, brackish marsh, and maritime forest.

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