If you are truly a country girl or guy, you love the outdoors. Naturally, when you come to Humphreys County, you probably want to know as much as possible about what wildlife you’ll find here. You may even come across animals and herbage you’ve never seen before. Of course, if you live here, seeing a white-tailed deer walk by is nothing new to you. But what else is lurking in the grass that you never knew was there?
There are more than 300 species of birds in the Tennessee area, separated into the categories of waterfowl and shorebirds (found by the water) and songbirds. These are a few you might see in the Tennessee River Valley, where Humphreys County is located.
You may mistake this songbird for other, more common varieties of blackbirds, but the males make themselves known with bright red patches at the top of their wings. They like to nest near water so they can feast on the bugs in the area, so look for them in the trees by the river.
These birds of a feather like to spend time in groups, eating together and taking care of one another. You know you’ve found a waxwing if it looks like its tail feathers have been dipped in wax.
You can probably imagine what the legs of this shorebird look like judging by its name. Its red legs are almost as long as a flamingo’s, long enough to wade into shallow waters to catch some fish.
A smaller shorebird, the solitary sandpiper will take over other birds’ abandoned nests in trees near the water. They will fly down to the shore by themselves and hunt on their own. Look for them digging in the sand at the water’s edge.
Mallards outnumber all other waterfowl in the rivers and streams of Tennessee by more than half. Typically, the winter will see hundreds of thousands of these green-headed birds with the white collar. If you see a duck in the river, chances are good it’s a mallard.
If you find a duck in a stream by the woods, this may be a wood duck. They prefer swampy areas to running water and nest very close to this water. Their name comes from the area where they prefer to live, not what they are made of. Their bright, iridescent feathers make them a treat to find.
If you’re excited to find some creepy, crawly creatures when you come to Humphreys County, be prepared to look closely. Many hide themselves well in grassy areas.
Red Milk Snake
There are many species of snakes in this part of Tennessee, but most are harmless. The red milk snake, however, can sometimes be mistaken for a young copperhead (which IS venomous). Its coloring, with yellow at the tip of its tail, shows its true identity. Look for these snakes under leaves or logs during the day and out hunting at night.
Rough Green Snake
This beautiful creature also likes to hide under large rocks or logs, mostly in wooded areas. Because of its bright green coloring, with a yellow underside, it can remain well-hidden as it hunts down bugs for dinner.
Eastern Box Turtle
Since this is the state reptile, you may run across the eastern box turtle just about anywhere in the grassy fields and forests. They do not live in water, but often live near it. Their boxy domed shells are patterned in many colorful ways, in yellow, orange, brown, and black.
Gray Tree Frog
Here’s a creature you may come across near the house where you are staying. Gray tree frogs like to eat bugs that are drawn to light, thereby bringing them to the light, too. They camouflage well in grassy areas since their skin can change colors from gray to green to more of an off-white color.
There aren’t too many creatures to fear in the dark woods at night—and none more dangerous than humans—but there are still a few animals to watch out for. Most are harmless, but all creatures should be given a healthy respect and distance.
Because these graceful creatures are herbivores, you are most likely to find them in grassy areas or anywhere they can find mushrooms, fruit, leaves, or acorns. Don’t move too quickly when trying to watch them. They can dart away fast!
If you’re near the Tennessee River, keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures. Few things are quite as entertaining as watching these guys play and dive into the water. Most of their diet comes from the water, such as crayfish, frogs, and turtles, so they’re in the water more than they are out of it. But they also like to eat rodents, so you may catch a view of them on land as well.
They might sound scary, but bobcats are rather skittish around people. You might not come across these big cats anywhere but deep in the woods. Their faces look much like that of a house cat, but you won’t confuse the two, as bobcats are much bigger and sport a disproportionately short, or “bobbed”, tail. They reside in and near trees, where they will find their favorite foods: rabbits, rodents, birds, snakes, and lizards.
Eastern Striped Skunk
Be warned! These nocturnal creatures are easily frightened. If you see one, recognized by its long black and whitish fur, your best bet is to turn away before it sees you. While the spray it emits is not poisonous, the stench is not easy to remove and could make for a long-time reminder of your encounter.
Wildlife Watching in Humphreys County
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge – Duck River Unit
The Duck River Unit of this refuge covers several thousand acres and can be found where the Duck River meets the Tennessee River, and it’s full of the wildlife you are looking for. The upland forested areas are even home to nesting Bald Eagles. If your plan is to do some hunting or fishing, you’ll have your pick of the migrating waterfowl or all the fish from both rivers. It’s open for visitors all year round. The offices and visitor centers are temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus, but the refuge lands are open. They ask that you continue to practice social distancing and come back another time if the parking lots are full.
God gave us a beautiful patch of green earth here in Tennessee. Wouldn’t you like to meet the creatures that share it with us? You can’t really know a place until you know everyone in it, including the wildlife. So come on down for a visit and see how many you can find while you’re here.
ITINERARY POINTS OF INTEREST
The Duck River Unit of this refuge covers several thousand acres and can be found where the Duck River meets the Tennessee River, and it’s full of the wildlife you are looking for.
Waterfowl, Shorebirds, and Songbirds
There are more than 300 species of birds in the Tennessee area, separated into the categories of waterfowl and shorebirds (found by the water) and songbirds.