General Wildife


Swanquarter Refuge is an important estuarine and wilderness resource; together with the surrounding proclamation waters it provides winter sanctuary for black ducks and canvasbacks, redheads and scaup. Additionally, it provides habitat for nesting osprey and colonial waterbirds. It also supports one of the northernmost populations of the American alligator.

Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge and its surrounding waters support many species of resident and migratory fish and wildlife. Of these, 253 species are birds, 68 are reptiles and amphibians, 48 species are fish, and 41 are mammals. The refuge supports wildlife species that are important from both a regional and a national standpoint. Its large size and vegetative diversity make the refuge a haven for species that require aquatic and wetland habitats.


The most prevalent wintering species residing in refuge marshes include pintail, green-winged teal, gadwall, widgeon, mallard, and black duck. Large “rafts” of black scoter and lesser scaup are commonly observed on the open waters adjacent to the refuge. Other species wintering or migrating on the refuge and surrounding waters may include blue-winged teal, ring-necked duck, shoveler, canvasback, ruddy duck, red head, bufflehead, hooded merganser, and red-breasted merganser. Both migratory Canada geese and snow geese use the refuge.


The species that breed on the refuge are characteristic of species that inhabit other coastal plain communities. They include warblers, nuthatches, thrashers, and blue-gray gnatcatchers. Wading birds, such as the great blue heron, are common and breeding has been documented in at least one rookery on the refuge. Bald eagles and ospreys have also historically nested on the refuge and viable nests remain.


The most common winter species are the American robin, yellow-rumped warbler, the red-winged blackbird, and sparrows. Robins feed heavily on berries of redbay and greenbrier and roost in large concentrations along the ditches. Myrtle warblers use vegetated ditch banks, and forest edges. They feed heavily on wax myrtle berries. The northern harrier may be observed hunting over the marshes.


Black bear and white tailed deer range over the entire refuge. They are not hunted o the refuge, but are hunted on adjacent property.