Seasons of Wildlife

Sea turtle nesting season begins and migrating shorebirds rest and feed along the beach. Bird watching opportunities are prime as wintering birds linger while summer residents and migrant species arrive. Snakes begin to move around, and alligators and turtles are easy to spot basking in the sun.

Sea turtle and shorebird nesting is in full swing. Black skimmers, laughing gulls, least terns, and Wilson’s plovers are abundant along the beach. Breeding painted buntings and a variety of other songbirds can be found throughout the various maritime habitats of the refuge.

Sea turtle nesting comes to an end. Migrant warblers and butterflies are abundant in the woodlands. Large concentrations of dunlin, dowitchers, western sandpipers, sanderlings, semipalmated plovers, and black-bellied plovers are found on the beach. Peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and northern harriers may be seen throughout refuge marshlands.

The refuge provides important wintering habitat for endangered piping plovers. Loons, northern gannets, and large rafts of scaup may be seen from the beach in open water.  Other wintering birds include bald eagles, hermit thrushes, ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, black-bellied plovers, and sanderlings.

Mammals such as cotton rats, white tailed deer, raccoons, and gray fox are present year-round.

Birds seen year-round include American oystercatchers, black skimmers, brown pelicans, osprey, pine warblers, and wood ducks.

Reptiles like American alligators, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, anoles, and skinks can be found throughout the refuge, most conspicuously during warmer months.

Marine species present year-round include bottle-nose dolphins, horseshoe crabs, ghost crabs, blue crabs, and periwinkle snails.