Wildlife and Habitat

Red Cockaded Woodpecker photo

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW), an endangered species, has first priority in refuge management on Piedmont. The RCW, a native bird of the southeastern forests, prefers mature, older age, open canopy pine stands with a low ground cover of grasses and forbs.

  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker

    Red-cockaded woodpecker

    The Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW), an endangered species, has first priority in refuge management on Piedmont. The RCW, a native bird of the southeastern forests, prefers mature, older age, open canopy pine stands with a low ground cover of grasses and forbs.

    Learn More
  • Bachman’s Sparrow

    Bachmans Sparrow

    The Bachman’s sparrow, known as the pine woods sparrow, is striped reddish brown and has a dingy buff colored breast. It is shy, playing hide and seek in the grasses, but will perch on a small tree when it sings. It’s domed shaped nest is built on the ground near a clump of grasses or at the base of small trees.

    Learn More
  • Resident Wildlife

    Cooper hawk

    While the Refuge’s primary goal is the protection of endangered species and migratory birds, the refuge also tries to improve the natural diversity for resident fish and wildlife species. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the refuge to manage resident wildlife within its boundaries.

    Learn More
  • Butterflies

    W H Butterflies 150W

    There are more than 100 species of butterflies confirmed as occurring on Piedmont NWR. The refuge conducts annual counts in partnership with the State of Georgia non-game wildlife program, the North American Butterfly Association and expert volunteers.

    Learn More
  • Pine Savanna

    W H Pine Savanna 150W

    The loblolly pine savannahs on Piedmont NWR are managed to ensure the continuous availability of mature pine for the resident population of red-cockaded woodpecker as a primary habitat management goal. Through timber thinning and prescribed burning, we are able to create and maintain this pine habitat. A diverse habitat is created by allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor through timber management and setting back succession with prescribed fire. This type of habitat manipulation benefits a tremendous amount of species including the red-cockaded woodpecker, Northern bobwhite quail, Bachman sparrow, white-tailed deer, fox squirrel, wild turkey, and various songbirds.

  • Bottomland Hardwood Forest

    W H BottomLandHardwood 150W

    Bottomland hardwood forests on the refuge are typically a narrow linear strip of tree species associated with moist environments, located adjacent to a creek. The most common species that dominate the canopy of this type of forest at Piedmont NWR are sweetgum, green ash, several species of oak, and hickory. This habitat is essential to a variety of wildlife on the refuge. Oak trees provide acorns for species like gray squirrels, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey. In areas where a thick midstory occurs, species such as Louisiana waterthrush, wood thrush, and Acadian flycatchers are provided with cover and foraging sites.

  • Oak-Hickory-Pine Forest

    W H OakHickoryPine 150W

    Considered the climax forest of the Piedmont region, this forest type formerly covered 50 to 75 percent of the region; most sites on fertile soils were eliminated by conversion to agricultural uses or by timber harvests. Remaining examples are often found in rocky areas that were difficult to convert to agricultural fields. These typically include a variety of hardwood species such as white oak, black oak, southern red oak, pignut hickory, shagbark hickory, mockernut hickory, red maple, blackgum, shortleaf pine, and loblolly pine, with dogwood, species of virburnum, wild plum, dwarf pawpaw, and various hawthorne species in the understory. American chestnut was formerly a major component of the canopy. These types of ecosystems are critical for songbirds who utilize the canopies of mature hardwood forests such as Red-eyed vireos, various species of warblers, and Summer tanagers. The hard mast such as acorns and hickory nuts produced by the trees in this type of habitat greatly benefit wildlife species such as gray squirrel, white-tailed deer, and turkey. When mature pines and hardwoods die, they form what are called snags that provide excellent habitat for cavity dwelling species such as pileated woodpeckers and flying squirrels.

  • Wildlife Openings

    W H Wildlife Opening 150W

    Wildlife openings comprise a very small percentage of the land cover at Piedmont NWR. The majority of these openings are old agricultural fields that were allowed to become fallow. We now use a variety of habitat management techniques such as disking, mowing, burning, application of herbicides to control invasives, and planting native grasses and plants. These areas provide forage and cover for species such as North bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer, Bachman’s sparrow, Eastern meadowlark, and Field sparrows. In spring wild turkeys can be found using these areas for cover and bugging for their rapidly maturing broods. Pollinators use these areas where a diversity of herbaceous plants occur.