Seasons of Wildlife


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


Purple gallinules and their chicks can be seen walking over the mats of lily pads that blanket some impoundments. Graceful swallowtail kites soar overhead, hunting for food to take back to their treetop nests. Alligators escape the summer heat by staying submerged in refuge waterways.


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. 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, especially 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, anhingas, and red-winged blackbirds.

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

Mammals such as white-tailed deer, marsh rabbits, river otters, gray fox, bats, armadillos, coyotes, opossums, raccoons and squirrels can be seen year-round. 

Freshwater species found in refuge impoundments include bowfin, gar, bluegill, and bass. Estuarine species including American eel, striped bass, mullet, croaker, trout, catfish, blue crabs, and fiddler crabs may be present in the Savannah River and adjacent creeks.

Vocal amphibians like pig frogs and tree frogs fill the air with their songs, especially after a nice rain.