Two majestic Wood Storks land to rest on a high bluff overlooking the Mighty Mississippi just outside of Vicksburg. They’re soon joined by a small flock of Roseate Spoonbills pruning their intricate pink feathers in turns as others watch for predators. These and other birds are on their yearly trek through the Mississippi Flyway that stretches from the Gulf Coast up through places such as Woodville, Natchez and Vicksburg. The spring and fall migrations of a multitude of species ranging from neotropicals, songbirds and waterfowl soar their way across this famous Mississippi Flyway.
Mississippians and visitors alike are fortunate to witness such yearly migrations of temporary residents to the state, making the autumn and spring a prime time for birders and natural observers to see their fill of spectacular Mississippi wildlife. Species such as the red cockaded woodpecker loom through the Mississippi wilderness and can be readily seen in the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, while the brown pelican eats its fill of Mississippi Gulf Coast fish on its way to its winter home.
The state also takes great pride in the abundance and diversity of other Mississippi wildlife flourishing through its 49 wildlife management areas, 11 national refuges, 6 national forests and 5 national parks. Mississippi is also home to the largest populations of White Tail Deer per acre in the country, while the Eastern Wild Turkey, wild boar, fox, rabbit and squirrel make their homes safely among the towering trees of Mississippi’s vast wilderness.
Great conservational efforts have gone into the preservation of the Mississippi Black Bear. Hunted nearly to extinction, it’s now a rare sight indeed—but one still to be had if you’re in the right place at the right time. Placed on the threatened species list because of its decreasing population, the native black bear has since seen its numbers on the rise. So don’t be surprised to find one roaming the wilds, a fine example of Mississippi wildlife.
Mississippi is home to hundreds of unique and beautiful species that are treasured members of our home and give our state the splendor and added diversity that make its wilds both wonderful and exciting. Be sure to experience the true beauty of the state through its natural resources, and always remember that nature belongs to us all.