Wildlife & Habitat

Seep Habitat

The Mississippi River valley serves as one of the most important bird migration corridors in North America.  Habitats, such as this cattail marsh, offers migrating birds essential food and cover along their journey.  Click here to view a list of the nearly 300 bird species that visit the refuge during migration.

  • Spotted Sandpiper

    Spotted Sandpiper

    This small bird, measuring around 7 inches in length, teeters or bobs as it walks along the shorelines of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes.  No one knows why the spotted sandpiper teeters, but the young inherently imitate the action practically as soon as they hatch!  The spotted sandpiper feeds on a variety of prey including insects, snails, crayfish, small fish - almost anything they can find in the mud, on plants or flying nearby.

    Learn More
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk

    Red-Shouldered Hawk

    The red-shouldered hawk inhabits mature forests along water, which makes the Great River National Wildlife Refuge a perfect place for them to raise their young.  They feed on small mammals, frogs, snakes, crayfish and the occasional small bird.  Their reddish underside and the black and white barring of their tail help to identify them from other hawks.

    Learn More
  • Sora

    Sora Rail

    The sora is included in the group of birds which are called secretive marshbirds.  These birds inhabit shallow wetlands where they quietly and stealthily maneuver through the emergent vegetation.  Their vocals include a variety of calls, but their most distinctive call is the two-noted "sor-AH, sor-AH".

    Learn More
  • Fox Island Division

    Deer at Fox Island

    The Fox Island Division is the northernmost unit of the refuge, near the Iowa border. Most of this unit is not protected by levees and is subject to the fluctuations of the Mississippi River.  Habitat on the refuge include a mix of scrub-shrub, bottomland forest and wet-meadow communties.  Song birds, shorebirds, waterfowl, muskrats, coyote, deer and many other species seek refuge in these habitats.

  • Long Island Division

    Long Island

    Long Island Division includes a complex of islands dominated with a bottomland forest community. These areas are important for a variety of migratory forest bird species such as the cerulean warbler, prothonotary warbler, woodpeckers, eagles, and red-shouldered hawk. White-tailed deer, river otter, snakes, turtles, turkey and other more common species consider the wet forest habitat home as well.

  • Delair Division

    Delair Division

    The Delair Division has ample seep marshes which provide a continuous flow of water through the refuge year round. The seeps are a result of the underlying sandy soils providing a direct ground connection to the Mississippi River. As a result, sedge marshes are interspersed throughout the refuge offering sora rails, sandhill cranes, salamanders, frogs, and snakes with important cover and food. Waterfowl such as ducks, geese and swans find refuge in the pooled wetlands during migration.