State of Mississippi

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos ©Charles J Sharp Wikimedia Website
Birding Mississippi

Mississippi is a state located in the Deep South of the United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The state’s name comes from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, and takes its name from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi (Great River). The state is heavily forested outside of the Mississippi Delta area. Its catfish aquaculture farms produce the majority of farm-raised catfish consumed in the United States. The state symbol is the magnolia.

Mississippi is bordered on the north by Tennessee, on the east by Alabama, on the south by Louisiana and a narrow coast on the Gulf of Mexico, and on the west, across the Mississippi River, by Louisiana and Arkansas.Major rivers in Mississippi, apart from its namesake, include the Big Black River, the Pearl River, the Yazoo, the Pascagoula, and the Tombigbee. Major lakes include Ross Barnett Reservoir, Arkabutla Lake, Sardis Lake and Grenada Lake.The state of Mississippi is entirely composed of lowlands, the highest point being Woodall Mountain, in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, only 806 feet (246 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level at the Gulf coast. The mean elevation in the state is 300 feet (91 m) above sea level.Most of Mississippi is part of the East Gulf Coastal Plain. The Coastal Plain is generally composed of low hills, such as the Pine Hills in the south and the North Central Hills. The Pontotoc Ridge and the Fall Line Hills in the northeast have somewhat higher elevations. Yellow-brown loess soil is found in the western parts of the state. The northeast is a region of fertile black earth that extends into the Alabama Black Belt.The coastline includes large bays at Bay St. Louis, Biloxi and Pascagoula. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico proper by the shallow Mississippi Sound, which is partially sheltered by Petit Bois Island, Horn Island, East and West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island and Cat Island.The northwest remainder of the state is made up of a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, also known as the Mississippi Delta. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain is narrow in the south and widens north of Vicksburg. The region has rich soil, partly made up of silt which had been regularly deposited by the floodwaters of the Mississippi River.

Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate with long summers and short, mild winters. Temperatures average about 82 °F (about 28 °C) in July and about 48 °F (about 9 °C) in January. The temperature varies little statewide in the summer, but in winter the region near Mississippi Sound is significantly warmer than the inland portion of the state. Yearly precipitation generally increases from north to south, with the regions closer to the Gulf being the most humid. Small amounts of snow fall in northern and central Mississippi, although snow is not unheard of around the southern part of the state.The late summer and fall is the seasonal period of risk for hurricanes moving inland from the Gulf of Mexico, especially in the southern part of the state. As in the rest of the Deep South, thunderstorms are common in Mississippi, especially in the southern part of the state. On average, Mississippi has around 27 tornadoes annually; the northern part of the state has more tornadoes earlier in the year and the southern part a higher frequency later in the year.

Mississippi is heavily forested, with over half of the state’s area covered by wild trees; mostly pine, but also cottonwood, elm, hickory, oak, pecan, sweetgum and tupelo. Lumber is a prevalent industry in Mississippi.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 420

    (As at October 2018)

    State Bird - Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

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Useful Reading

  • A Guide to Bird Finding East of the Mississippi

    | By OS Pettingill | Oxford University Press | 1997 | Hardback | 689 pages, line illustrations | ISBN: 9780195020977 Buy this book from
  • A Guide to the Birds of the South-Eastern States

    | (Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi) | By John H Rappole | Florida University Presses | 2006 | Paperback | 336 pages, 420 colour photos, 379 distribution maps | ISBN: 9780813028613 Buy this book from
  • Birder's Guide to Alabama and Mississippi

    | By R Vaughan | Rowman & Littlefield | 1994 | Paperback | 232 pages, B/w illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9780884150558 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Louisiana & Mississippi Field Guide

    | By Stan Tekiela | Adventure Publications | 2022 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 384 pages, colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781647552992 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Mississippi

    | By Marc Parnell | Naturalist & Traveler Press | 2022 | Paperback | 308 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9781954228351 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Mississippi

    | By William H Turcotte | University Press of Mississippi | 1999 | Hardback | ISBN: 9781578061105 Buy this book from
  • Guide to Birding Coastal Mississippi and Adjacent Counties

    | By Judith A Toups | Stackpole Books | 2004 | Paperback | 168 pages, figs, 19 maps | ISBN: 9780811729697 Buy this book from
  • Mississippi Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

    | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2003 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9781583552278 Buy this book from
  • Audubon Mississippi

    Audubon Mississippi supports a wide range of programs focused on building bird friendly communities, habitat conservation, and education. Our bird conservation work includes surveys of target species of concern across the state and at our two Audubon Centers and our Coastal Stewardship office. Mississippi also supports an Important Bird Areas program, including a monitoring program supported by state Audubon chapters. See below for more detailed information.
  • Audubon Society in Mississippi

    With a five chapter presence, our grassroots networks span the entire geographical area of Mississippi and the continent. Chapters enable Audubon members and others to meet and share an appreciation of their common interests. They create a culture of conservation in local communities through education and advocacy, focusing on the conservation of birds, other wildlife and conservation of important habitats. View the complete listing of chapters in Mississippi below.
  • Jackson Audubon Society

    A chapter of National Audubon Society since 1971.
  • Mississippi Coast Audubon Society

    The Mississippi Coast Audubon Society (MCAS) is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, covering Mississippi’s six coastal counties – Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, George, Stone, and Pearl River. Explore our website to learn about Mississippi birds and habitats, see our field trip schedule, and find out what we do and how to join us. For day-to-day news and events, see our Facebook page. We welcome new members and guests!
  • Nature Conservancy in Mississippi

    Since 1965, The Nature Conservancy has been working to conserve lands and waters in Mississippi that have provided a sense of place and connection to our natural heritage for many generations. TNC has played a key role in protecting and restoring some of our most iconic landscapes, totaling over 139,000 acres across the state. Together, we are making a measurable, lasting difference in Mississippi.
  • Okatibbee Creek Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    8125 Rosewood Ln 39305, Meridian, MS
  • Oktibbeha Audubon Society

    Oktibbeha Audubon Society is affiliated with National Audubon Society and the Mississippi Office of National Audubon. The chapter is located in Starkville, Mississippi with members in a 7 county area including West Point, Columbus, and Macon. Meetings are held on the MSU Campus. Starkville is the home of Mississippi State University and close to Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge
  • Pine Woods Audubon Society

    The Pine Woods Audubon Society meets monthly, from September through May, at 7:00 p.m. at the Kamper Park Education Center in Hattiesburg, MS. We welcome visitors. There are no charges associated with attending our meetings and no membership is required to attend meetings or other PWAS events. Come early and visit with other attendees at 6:30 p.m.
  • Shreveport Bird Study Group

    The Bird Study Group is a northwest Louisiana organization of bird-watchers based in Shreveport. The Bird Study Group offers field trips, bird discussions, a bird sighting database, and other programs for people with an interest in birds

Abbreviations Key

  • NC Pascagoula River Audubon Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is a gateway to the Pascagoula River, its habitats and the diverse assemblage of organisms that inhabit, or visit the river basin throughout the year. Apart from providing visitors and students direct exposure and experience within such a rich environment, the center serves as a demonstration site for environmentally-friendly concepts and a portal to nature based programs applicable to any and all visitors…
  • NC Strawberry Plains Audubon Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Through education and demonstration, Strawberry Plains Audubon Center inspires ecological stewardship and leads community action to conserve and manage our landscape for biodiversity and habitat for birds and other wildlife.
  • NF Bienville

    WebpageSatellite View
    Most of the lands making up the 178,542-acre Bienville National Forest in east central Mississippi were purchased directly from four large timber companies in 1934. Timber consisted of Loblolly, Shortleaf, and Longleaf Pine. Oak-hickory forest is the climax cover type while the pine forest is a sub-climax cover type. Timber harvest and prescribe burns are management tools used to set back succession. Bienville National Forest is home to numerous species of high conservation concern. Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, and Northern Bobwhite are all present on the national forest; and all require fire to provide essential habitat for their nesting and year round food and cover requirements.
  • NF Homochitto

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Homochitto National Forest lies in a transition zone between the Longleaf Pine Belt to the east and south and the Loess Bluff Hills to the west. This IBA is the only large tract of forested land in southwest Mississippi that is being restored to its native Longleaf Pine ecosystem. This is being done using prescribed burns and other land management techniques to support the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Studies conducted on the Homochitto show that intensive Red-cockaded Woodpecker habitat management enhances the abundance of breeding birds dependent on fire maintained open pine-grassland forests. Nine species, including White-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Towhee, Prairie Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Eastern Wood-Pewee, are more abundant in stands under intensive Red-cockaded Woodpecker habitat management than in areas under traditional forest management.
  • NWR Mississippi Sandhill Crane

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is one of more than 500 national wildlife refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It was established in 1975 to safeguard the critically endangered Mississippi sandhill crane and its unique disappearing habitat…
  • NWR Sam D Hamilton Noxubee

    WebpageSatellite View
    Noxubee Refuge is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge located in northeast Mississippi. The refuge includes two large lakes, Loakfoma and Bluff, that attract shorebirds in migration, herons and egrets in the summer, and thousands of ducks in the winter. A colony of an estimated 30,000 cattle egrets and ibis, herons, and egrets nest on Bluff Lake. In addition, the refuge includes 35 clusters of red-cockaded woodpeckers, a bird listed on the endangered species list. The RCW clusters also attract nesting Bachman's sparrows, pine warblers, and brown-headed nuthatches…
  • NWR St. Catherine Creek

    WebpageSatellite View
    This IBA is the only national wildlife refuge in Mississippi bordering the Mississippi River. The river floodplain is lined by Loess Hills, which are a unique geologic feature formed by Pleistocene glacial deposits that were blown from the Mississippi flood plain. The area also contains a diverse collection of habitat types including swamps, lakes, Loess Bluffs, upland hardwoods, river-front hardwoods, Willow thickets, bottomland hardwoods, Cypress-Tupelo, and agriculture. Shallow water impoundments have been developed since 1990. It also includes extensive Loess Hill forests, which provide valuable habitat for migrant landbirds and one of the few known nesting sites for Worm-eating Warblers in the state. The flood plain area of the refuge is characterized by shallow water impoundments that are used by large concentrations of post-breeding waterbirds including Wood Storks, White Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbills.
  • NWR Yazoo

    WebpageSatellite View
    Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge is in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley between Greenville and Vicksburg and about five miles east of the Mississippi River. The elevation ranges from 90 to 113 feet above sea level. Topography is nearly flat to gently undulating with all major features being derived from alluvial deposits and meandering of the Mississippi River. Swan Lake supports a multi-species heronry (eight to nine species) of more than 1,300 pairs of nesting waterbirds. This heronry has been in existence for many years and is accessible only by small boat or canoe, so the colony is well protected from human disturbance. This waterbird colony is one of only a few sites in the state that supports nesting Double-crested Cormorants.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • MissBird

    Mailing List, Sightings, Field Trips
    MISSBIRD is a birding communications network covering the state of Mississippi for the purpose of reporting and receiving bird sighting information, sharing information about bird outings and field trips, and interacting with other birders on bird-related topics.
Trip Reports
  • 2016 [05 May] - Bruce Wedderburn - SE USA

    ...The return trip which was via Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma where we picked up a few more target birds, most of which were established in their summer breeding grounds...
Other Links
  • Mississippi Rare Bird Alert

    Info on how to receive transcripts via email etc…

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