As part of the central flyway of the United States, the Mississippi River Valley has become a major habitat corridor for migrating and breeding bird species. The area around Vicksburg, and particularly in the park, has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society, and presents a mixture of hardwood forest, riparian, grassland, and edge habitat. Bird surveys conducted by the Audubon Society from 2003 through 2005, have identified over 180 species within Vicksburg National Military Park, including several species of conservation or high conservation priority, such as the white-eyed vireo, worm-eating warbler, hooded warbler, orchard oriole, Swainson’s warbler, and Kentucky warbler.
Year-round species in the park include barred owls, cardinals, pileated woodpeckers, and a rather larger population of wild turkeys. Both park visitors and staff enjoy the antics of these haughty birds, as they patrol the tour road and carefully tend a new brood of poults each summer.
The river is a major migration corridor, and bird-watching enthusiasts can see Mississippi kites, bald eagles, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, and black and turkey vultures soaring on the thermals over the bluffs. Many songbirds, although infinitely harder to spot, are found throughout the wooded and open areas of the park, including indigo buntings, summer tanagers, prothonotary warblers, kinglets, mockingbirds, and red-winged blackbirds, just to name a few.
The unique landscape attributes of Vicksburg National Military Park have created an area rich in avifauna, providing a rewarding experience for both the serious and casual observer.
Did You Know?
Thomas O. Selfridge, captain of the USS Cairo, commanded three boats which sank during the war. Each began with the letter "C"-Cumberland, Cairo, and Conestoga. The coincidence was noted after the Conestoga sank, and Selfridge was assigned to the USS Osage, which survived to the end of the war.