POND CREEK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Geographically positioned in a area where the Central and Mississippi flyways overlap, Pond Creek Refuge provides outstanding habitat for waterfowl. The forested wetlands of the refuge are used by migrating and wintering waterfowl during the fall, winter and spring. Mallards, gadwall, American wigeon and wood ducks are among the over 15 species of waterfowl that traditionally use the seasonally flooded wetland habitats of the refuge. Other species seen less often include northern shoveler; blue and green-winged teal.
The hardwood dominated forested wetlands of Pond Creek Refuge provide outstanding habitat for an abundance of birdlife, particularly neotropical migratory songbirds. Neotropical birds use the refuge as a rest stop during fall and spring migration to replenish energy reserves for the long journey to and from wintering areas in Central and South America. This habitat is also used for breeding and nesting during the spring and summer for many of these species. Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, Carolina wren. Prothonotary warbler; northern cardinal, swainson's warbler; summer tanager; Kentucky warbler; and white-throated sparrow are among the over 20 species of migrants that nest here.
The area which is known today as Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge once was a landscape dominated by bottomland hardwood species such as water, willow, overflow and Nuttall oak; pecan, shellbark, and bitternut hickory. The previous forest industry landowner converted approximately 6,000 aces of the pristine landscape into monoculture loblolly pine plantations for commercial forest management. Results of this conversion was a loss of prime wildlife habitat that supported important wildlife species indigenous to bottomland hardwoods such as neotropical songbirds.
Current refuge management strategies call for converting these pine plantations to hardwoods. It will take from 20 to 30 years or more for trees being planted today to restore the mature bottomland hardwood forests to their former resource values as a home for wildlife.