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Animals and Their Habitats

Cool Springs has many habitats, filled with animals of varied species and plants that grow abundantly throughout the tract. Explore the sections below to learn more about the plants and animals that call Cool Springs home.


Some photographic work has been released to the public domain; all other photographs are copyrighted to ©Joe Young, New Bern NC or ©Jeff Hall, Greenville NC.



©Photography by Joe Young, New Bern NC or Jeff Hall, Greenville NC




Frogs and Toads




Cool Springs is listed as a part of the North Carolina Migratory Bird Trail. Each year, in May, we offer a public event in celebration of International Migratory Bird Day called the "Birding Bonanza". Check our calendar for this year’s date for the event.





The longleaf pine area at Cool Springs is listed with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Registry because of its ecological significance. This unique ecosystem has become rare in its range as only about three percent of its original acreage remains. The longleaf pine ecosystem is dependent on fire, meaning that without fire, the longleaf pine and many other plants that grow along with it, cannot survive. Some plants, such as longleaf pine, need fire to reduce competition, while others, such as wiregrass, require fire for seed production. Numerous animals are also associated with this ecosystem; fox squirrels, larger than gray squirrels, are well-adapted to deal with the larger cones of the longleaf pine.


Mixed pine hardwood stands are often transitional stands. They will likely become either longleaf pine savanna or hardwood climax forests. Many of these stands at Cool Springs are located next to the swamp or are small islands surrounded by swamp. The tree species in these habitats are quite variable, including loblolly pine, shortleaf pine, longleaf pine, pignut hickory, red maple, and numerous oaks. These stands can be very valuable for wildlife since they produce high-quality foods and offer plenty of shelter.


Pocosins are typically wet pockets of dense vegetation located on the highest ground in the coastal plain. Well named, the word Pocosin is believed to be a Native American word that translates to "swamp on a hill". The soils in Pocosins are usually highly organic, meaning high concentrations of decaying plant and animal matter. Numerous tree species thrive in these conditions, including black gum, red bay, sweet bay, loblolly bay and pond pine. Pocosins may also include Atlantic white cedar trees. Also known as juniper, Atlantic white cedars are becoming rare; less than ten percent of its original area remains in North Carolina. Cool Springs is lucky to have several stands of Atlantic white cedar in our Pocosins areas. Weyerhaeuser maintains these Atlantic white cedar stands for conservation purposes.


Three different species of trees have been planted in plantations at Cool Springs: slash pine, loblolly pine and longleaf pine. These managed pine plantations demonstrate forest industry practices used by Weyerhaeuser. Much goes into the management of a forest plantation, certainly more than just planting and harvesting. A wide variety of practices are used, such as site preparation, fertilizing and thinning. Practices such as these allow trees to grow larger in a shorter amount of time, allowing more efficient production of everything from two-by-four lumber to baby diapers to doughnuts.


Much of Cool Springs is covered by swamp. The dominant trees in the swamp habitats are bald cypress and water tupelo. As a result, this type of swamp is often called a cypress-tupelo swamp. Both of these trees are adapted to survive floods most of the year. The bald cypress has “knees” to help support the tree and also to supply oxygen to the roots. The water tupelo has a very broad lower trunk that spreads out to give greater stability in the water. A wide variety of plants are often found in these swamps, including swamp rose, lizard’s tail, duck potato, arrow arum and cardinal flower. Duckweed covers much of the water’s surface. Many birds use the swamp as an important breeding habitat. You’ll also find beavers, muskrats, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians.


At Cool Springs, we conduct research to better understand the balance between the environment and forestry, and to help provide information to leading scientists and universities.


Active research includes migration monitoring and point counts for breeding birds. Migration monitoring takes place from mid-March through June and then again in September through mid-October. A two-mile route is run at least once a week during this period and all migratory birds are recorded. This data is supplied to a national database in Houston, Texas. One “point count” type survey is also conducted each summer to survey for breeding birds.


Monitoring of "herps" (reptiles and amphibians) began in April 1999 and has continued since. A variety of techniques are used for live trapping of herps, including coverboard and PVC pipe transects, minnow and turtle traps, and drift fences with pitfall traps. Sixty-seven species of reptiles and amphibians have been encountered at Cool Springs. Students and teachers have assisted in this research.


Monitoring of Water Quality began in April 2008. Testing of several chemical and physical parameters is done weekly on the Cool Springs property at several distinct aquatic habitats. These sites include: permanent ponds, vernal ponds, swamp, creek, and river. This is being done as a base line comparison of different aquatic habitat water properties.



Animals and trees of varied species can be found throughout Cool Springs.

Last updated May 21, 2014