The centerpiece of this 492-acre urban park is the 73,000-square-foot Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. The museum, which is visited by up to 300,000 people a year, has extensive interpretive exhibits on the natural history of the state, including its birdlife. The museum is the official repository of bird study skins, bird eggs, and other natural history collections. The park has 2? miles of nature trails and boardwalks for wildlife viewing and an open-air amphitheater. More than 100 species of native plants are on display in model gardens that provide practical ideas for visitors who want to create their own backyard habitats for attracting wildlife. The museum, an arm of the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, also conducts and sponsors ornithological research throughout the state. That research helps direct conservation management decisions.
The museum offers a variety of educational programs about birds to school children and the general public. These programs are designed to promote an understanding of the conservation of birds and their habitats. Special workshops and lectures are offered on a regular basis, including the monthly Naturalist Lecture Series. The museum holds workshops and hosts special activities in conjunction with events such as Audubon?s Great Backyard Bird Count and International Migratory Bird Day. The museum has helped produce educational materials specific to birds, including a video on bird conservation issues on the Gulf Coast.
The diverse habitats of the park afford good opportunities for observing migrating, breeding and winter birds, especially woodland birds. Migrating wood warblers and other Neotropical landbirds can be found in good numbers in spring and fall. Common nesting species include Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and Summer Tanager. A nest-box trail has been established for Prothonotary Warblers to provide viewing and educational opportunities. The Jackson Audubon Society leads monthly walks for beginning birders along the park?s trails. A bird-viewing area, with feeders and a large water feature, is maintained on the eastern side of the museum. Wading birds such as Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Wood Storks inhabit lake shores and other wetland areas.
Overuse and recreational development threatens forested habitat.