Hillside National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The area is dominated by bottomland hardwood forest with numerous sloughs and brakes containing Bald Cypress, Swamp Tupelo, Buttonbush, Swamp Privet, Water Elm, and Willow. Other habitats include croplands and old fields, moist-soil management areas, young hardwood plantations, major streams, and more than 50 small borrow ponds.

Ornithological Summary

The refuge, one of the largest forested tracts in the Mississippi Delta, provides important stopover and nesting habitat for neotropical migrants. The refuge is noted for large numbers of wintering waterfowl which have exceeded 125,000 birds. Mallards are the most numerous species, with American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, teal, scaup, Ring-necked Duck, and Wood Duck also common. Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers nest in man-made boxes and natural cavities.

Numerous species of marsh and wading birds occur on the refuge and a rookery containing Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Anhingas, and Black-crowned Night-Herons is present. A small amount of Loess Bluff habitat on the eastern edge of the refuge, which supports upland vegetation and a different suite of species, adds another dimension to the diversity of the habitats.

Conservation Issues

Hillside National Wildlife Refuge was originally purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for use as a siltation basin known as the Hillside Floodway Project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the land in 1975, but the Corps retained the right to manage the surface water, still using the refuge for silt collection. As a result, much of the habitat has been converted to Willow and Cottonwood in the short term. Changes in stream courses and silt buildup will continue for many years, making the habitat very dynamic in terms of successional changes.

In 2003, a Comprehensive Conservation Plan is being written for the management of this refuge and other refuges in the Central Mississippi Complex. This will be updated in 15 years. The most current scientific expertise has been called upon to aid in the writing of this plan, which is to be written for wildlife first, within the constraints of existing management easements and established legislation.

Habitat

The area is dominated by bottomland hardwood forest with numerous sloughs and brakes containing Bald Cypress, Swamp Tupelo, Buttonbush, Swamp Privet, Water Elm, and Willow. Other habitats include croplands and old fields, moist-soil management areas, young hardwood plantations, major streams, and more than 50 small borrow ponds.

Hillside National Wildlife Refuge was originally purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for use as a siltation basin known as the Hillside Floodway Project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the land in 1975, but the Corps retained the right to manage the surface water, still using the refuge for silt collection. As a result, much of the habitat has been converted to Willow and Cottonwood in the short term. Changes in stream courses and silt buildup will continue for many years, making the habitat very dynamic in terms of successional changes.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.