(Photo by Cliff Dickey)
Many different species call Petersburg National Battlefield home, although their presence is not always easily observed. In the fields where soldiers once charged forward, trying to avoid enemy fire, the White-footed mouse now searches for its dinner while trying to avoid the Gray fox and the watchful eye of the Red-tailed hawk. This mixture of cultural history and animal life make the battlefield an intriguing place to visit.
Deer, rabbits, opossums, shrews, foxes, and raccoons are some of the more visible residents of the battlefield. The combination of wooded and open field habitats attracts a variety of avian species such as Cardinals, terns, and hawks. Visitors can also observe Osprey along the Appomattox and James Rivers.
In 2003, a pair of Bald eagles came into the park to nest and raise their young. From mid-December to mid-July a section of the outer loop trail is closed to provide optimal conditions for the birth of this rare and majestic species.
There are also many different species of amphibians and reptiles in Petersburg National Battlefield. These include large communitys of Five-lined skinks, Eastern fence lizards, and Spade-footed toads. The Eastern box turtle and the Eastern worm snake also have very large populations within the park.
To date, the park has inventoried 20 species of mammals, 22 species of fish, 22 species of amphibians, 26 species of reptiles, and 142 species of birds. Inventories are ongoing, and adjustments will undoubtedly be made to these numbers.
Did You Know?
Those who died on the battlefields around Petersburg were left where they were originally buried until after the Civil War. From 1866-69 most Union dead were buried at Poplar Grove National Cemetery while thousands of Confederate dead were buried at the historic Blandford Cemetery. (Petersburg NB)