Starkville and Oktibbeha County are located in the Mississippi Flyway which is used by over 300 species of birds to travel from their wintering grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, Central, and South America north each year to Canada where they breed.
These migrating birds can be seen in locations in Oktibbeha County as they migrate. We also have many year-round residents that are some of our favorites to spot.
289 bird species have been recorded in eBird.com for Oktibbeha County and we’re highlighting some of the hotspots for birding in our county below. So, pick a favorite, grab your binoculars, and go find a bird on your life list!
Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge
Located just 20 minutes from Starkville, the Noxubee Refuge is a great spot for bird watching.
Over 200 species of birds have been recorded at the Refuge. Resident birds include Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Bobwhite Quail, Eastern Wild Turkey, Wood Ducks, and Barred Owls. Migratory waterfowl utilize the rookery in Bluff Lake and a pair of Bald Eagles have nested here since 2003. The Refuge has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.
With habitats ranging from bottomland hardwoods, wetlands, upland woodlands, old growth pine stands, and a pair of lakes, there is a wide variety of birds and other wildlife on the 42,500 acres that make up the Refuge.
From Wood Storks and Prothonotary Warblers to Roseate Spoonbills and Bobolinks, there are many amazing bird species to be found each season. Download the Refuge’s bird list (PDF).
An entrance pass is required.
Oktibbeha County Lake
This man-made lake covers 513 acres and is accessible via Highway 82 – just 18 minutes outside of Starkville. 228 species of birds have been spotted on and around the lake including Red-necked Phalaropes, Green-winged Teals, Magnolia Warblers, Lincoln’s Sparrow and many others. You might even get lucky enough to see a Reddish Egret – one was spotted in June 2019.
MSU’s North Farm
Also known as the R.R. Foil Plant Science Research Center, North Farm is comprised of around 750 acres of arable land. The gravel roads crisscrossing the farm make perfect walking lanes for seeking one of the 161 bird species reported here. Warblers, Sandpipers, Titmice, Sparrows, Tanagers, and Hawks and Eagles, bring your binoculars when you visit North Farm.
MSU’s South Farm
Also known as the H. H. Leveck Animal Research Center, South Farm contains 1,100 acres of livestock fields, forage production research, a horse unit, an aquaculture facility, and much more.
Travel down the gravel roads to view Buntings, Kinglets, Pelicans, Owls, Ducks, Pipits, Sparrows, Tanagers, and many more of the 143 bird species recorded here.
Browning Creek Reservoir
Follow Oktoc Rd. south from Starkville to Browning Creek Rd. and you’ll find the Reservoir just at the end of the road. It’s about 20 minutes outside of Starkville to this location where you can find the reservoir where 125 bird species have been recorded – from Sandpipers, Vireos, Egrets, and Sparrows to Swallows, Buntings, Grosbeaks, Scoters, and more.
Trim Cane WMA
Take Highway 389 north out of Starkville for 4 miles and you will see Trim Cane WMA on the left. The WMA is managed by Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and encompasses 875 acres between Trim Cane Creek and Hwy 389. One hundred species of birds have been recorded here. Depending on the season, you might spot Cedar Waxwings, Northern Shovelers, Cooper’s Hawks, Warblers, or even a Blue-winged Teal.
Chadwick Lake is adjacent to the Joe Frank Sanderson Center on the campus of Mississippi State University. A short 0.9 mile walking trail surrounds the lake, providing easy access for birding. Birders have recorded 64 species here since 2001.