Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge consists of 25 abandoned catfish ponds (approximately 400 acres), 300 acres of upland grassland, and 1,300 acres of seasonally flooded bottomlands containing scrub/shrub vegetation interspersed with Willow brakes. Attempts have been made to reforest the area but have met with limited success as a result of the extent of the winter flooding and lack of water control over the bulk of the property. Due to its location between the Tallahatchie River and the Panola-Quitman Floodway, the majority of the refuge is under water from November to April.

Ornithological Summary

During post-breeding migration, this site hosts concentrations of Wood Storks, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and occasional Roseate Spoonbills. A variety of waterfowl species including Mallards, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls, American Wigeon, teal, Canvasbacks, scaup, and Ring-necked Ducks winter here. It?s not unusual to see concentrations of more than 10,000 ducks during the winter.

Intensive monitoring from 1996 to 1998 resulted in 33 species of shorebirds including: Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Pacific Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird?s Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Ruff, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, Common Snipe, Wilson?s Phalarope, and Red Phalarope. Peak numbers were more than 1,400 individuals. In 1996, the only documented nesting of the Willow Flycatcher in Mississippi occurred on this IBA.

Conservation Issues

Continued channelization within the Yazoo River watershed and levee construction on private lands south of the refuge will impact the flooding regime on the site. No hunting is permitted on the refuge, but a law enforcement presence is necessary to prevent trespassing. Additionally, potential aquifer problems exist as a large amount of ground water is pumped for irrigation.

Water management provides favorable conditions for migrant shorebirds and over-wintering waterfowl. Planned modifications to improve current levee system would improve ability to manage water levels for waterfowl and shorebirds.

Habitat

Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge consists of 25 abandoned catfish ponds (approximately 400 acres), 300 acres of upland grassland, and 1,300 acres of seasonally flooded bottomlands containing scrub/shrub vegetation interspersed with Willow brakes. Attempts have been made to reforest the area but have met with limited success as a result of the extent of the winter flooding and lack of water control over the bulk of the property. Due to its location between the Tallahatchie River and the Panola-Quitman Floodway, the majority of the refuge is under water from November to April.

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