Wildlife & Habitat

  • Northern Red-Bellied Cooter

    Northern red-bellied cooter - USFWS.

    The northern red-bellied cooter subsists primarily on submergent vegetation, and requires good water quality and suitable basking, nesting, and overwintering sites free from disturbance. Cooters spend most of their lives in these freshwater coastal ponds in the greater Plymouth County area, coming on land to bask (sun themselves) and breed in sandy soils. In addition to providing habitat for this endangered species, Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat to a variety of birds that nest in the uplands and amphibians, reptiles, and fish that utilize the ponds.

  • Barrens Buckmoth

    The Barrens buckmoth has black wings with a white semi-translucent median band. The male has orange on its thorax and the anterior of the abdomen. It inhabits open habitats with extensive scrub oak thickets, sandplain pitch-pine scrub oak, and maritime shrub land which are found in the local area. Females lay their eggs on scrub oak twigs in the fall and they hatch in the spring and pupation occurs in mid-summer. In Massachusetts, the moth is only found in the southeastern area of the state and one area in the Connecticut River Valley.

  • Eastern Whip-Poor-Whill

    Eastern whip-poor-whill - USFWS.

    The eastern whip-poor-whill can be found in areas like Massasoit NWR, as their primary habitat type is mixed deciduous pine forests or deciduous forests with an open understory with sandy soils. They are a medium-sized bird with a large, rounded head and a stout chest that tapers to a long tail and wings, making them look very front-heavy. They are nocturnal, and at night they rest on the ground or will perch horizontally on low trees and fly up to catch moths and other aerial insects. They sing their loud, whip-poor-will song continuously on spring and summer evenings.

  • Crooked Pond

    Crooked Pond - USFWS.

    Crooked Pond is a typical coastal plain pond occupying a depression connected hydrologically to an underground aquifer; hence, the water level of the pond changes with the water table. The upland habitat surrounding Gunner’s Exchange and Island ponds is a mix of pitch pine — scrub oak and coastal oak/heath forest. Common species include: red maple, pitch pine, white pine, and scrub oak with highbush blueberry, low sweet blueberry, bearberry and greenbrier under-story.

  • Pitch Pine Scrub Oak

    Pitch pine scrub oak communities need fire to maintain the community structure and diversity. The resinous, waxy cutins in the leaves of many of the plant species found in this community are highly flammable and easily ignite during dry periods. Today the area is generally protected from fire, resulting in a closed-canopy pine forest. Invasive species, fire suppression, and habitat loss have threatened the health of this native forest type.