Seasons of Wildlife

The types of wildlife visitors see at the Refuge varies throughout the year. During the winter months be on the lookout for tundra swans, American black ducks, gadwall, buffleheads, pied-billed grebes and many of species of ducks and water birds. Winter is also a great time to see wildlife that typically remains hidden during the busier (visitor-wise) months of the year. Coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, opossums and deer are all seen more frequently during the cold months.

Spring and fall provide opportunities to see shorebirds, such as killdeer, a variety of sandpipers and yellowlegs and migrating songbirds like indigo buntings. Reptiles and amphibians, such as snakes, frogs and turtles are also active during these seasons. The cottonmouth snake is the only venomous snake species found at Back Bay NWR and is commonly seen by visitors. These snakes do not want to interact with humans. As with all wildlife, keep your distance and do not harass the animals in any way.

Summers can be very hot and humid at the Refuge. Many wildlife hide out during the day, to avoid the heat. Reptiles and amphibians may still be seen, although sometimes they will also take shelter to avoid intense heat. At this time of year, however, dragonflies and butterflies put on a show, displaying every color of the rainbow. Dolphins are also often visible from the beach, so keep an eye on the water while hiking and shell collecting on the shore.

Featured Species

Over 300 species of wildlife have been documented at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Thanks to regular Refuge surveys, citizen science efforts through eBird and iNaturalist and community events such as the bi-annual BioBlitz, we continue to discover and learn more about the wildlife at the Refuge.

A large sea turtle swimming along a reef

Loggerheads were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch. The carapace (top shell) is slightly heart-shaped and reddish-brown in adults and sub-adults, while the plastron (bottom shell) is...

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