Man using binoculars to view wildlife

With a diversity of habitat types, Harris Neck offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities year-round.

Bird watching opportunities are prime as wintering birds linger while summer residents and migrant species arrive. Egrets, herons, ibis, and wood storks begin nesting at Woody Pond. Bobcats breed and wild turkey poults hatch.  Snakes begin to move around, and alligators and turtles are easy to spot basking in the sun.  

The rookery at Woody Pond is active with young wading bird hatchlings, and alligators can be seen patrolling the surrounding water. Roseate spoonbills become more abundant and hummingbirds can be found buzzing around blooming plants. Colorful painted buntings are breeding and can be seen and heard throughout refuge maritime forest and scrub-shrub habitat.

As wading bird nesting comes to an end, migratory birds and butterflies arrive in large numbers from more northern areas. Commonly seen butterfly species include cloudless sulphur, zebra longwing, gulf fritillary, and monarch. Some nesting neotropical birds such as painted buntings and yellow-billed cuckoos may still be present. Wintering waterfowl like blue and green-winged teal, northern shovelers, and ringneck ducks begin arriving. Northern harriers can be seen hovering above the marshes looking for a snack.

Waterfowl viewing opportunities are excellent in December and January. Other wintering birds include bald eagles, hermit thrushes, yellow-rumped warblers, greater yellowlegs, and Wilson’s snipe. Resident wood ducks begin nesting in late winter. Alligators may still be seen on the occasional warm, sunny winter day. 

Year-round Residents
Birds abundant year-round include common gallinules, snowy egrets, great blue herons, wild turkey, and red-winged blackbirds.
Mammals such as white-tailed deer, marsh rabbits, river otters, gray fox, bats, armadillos, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, cotton rats and squirrels can be seen year-round. 

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

Saltwater adapted species present year round include blue crabs, stone crabs, fiddler crabs, mullet, croaker, whiting, red fish, sea trout, southern flounder, and sheepshead.

Vocal amphibians like pig frogs and tree frogs fill the air with song, especially after a good rain.