Wildlife & Habitat

Winterbirds DM X 512

At Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, the fish and wildlife species and the habitats are closely connected to each other and the 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 black bear, white-tailed deer, and red wolves, 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 and shorebirds only reside in the refuge’s moist soil vegetation units and marshes during migration. Snow geese and tundra swans utilize the lakes more than the ducks. Wood ducks are permanent residents of the refuge’s flooded forests. Neotropical migratory songbirds breed in the refuge forests in the spring and migrate to the West Indies and Central and South America for the winter. Raptors such as hawks and owls hunt the roadsides, crop fields, and filter strips searching for their prey. 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.


  • General Wildlife Information


    Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is home to a host of different animals for your viewing pleasure. From Black bear to Bobcats and Snow Geese to Tundra Swan there is always a reason to enjoy the wilderness.

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  • Northern Pintail


    Northern pintails spend the winter at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. They migrate south from northern Canada where they nest in the summer. On the refuge, they feed on grain, seeds of native and non-native plants, aquatic insects, crustaceans, and snails.

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  • Tundra Swan


    Many thousands of Tundra Swans over-winter on Lake Mattamuskeet. They usually can be easily seen from the causeway. These huge birds are as noisy as they are beautiful. Tundra Swans primarily feed on submerged aquatic vegetation, but will also feed in farm fields.

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  • Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Lewis X150

    Wood Ducks are resident species on the Mattamuskeet River National Wildlife Refuge and they live forested swamps and nest in trees near open water. They use natural cavities in trees, but will use artificial nest boxes.

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  • Birds


    Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge lies in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway and provides a valuable wintering area for the waterfowl using this migration route, which extends from Canada southward.

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  • Habitat Types


    There are 12 habitat types and land uses found on the refuge. These cover types, for the most part, are classified as wetlands based upon vegetation, degree of soil saturation, and duration of flooding.

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