Fauna of Jemison Park


Birds of Jemison Park

The following birds may be seen or heard in the park. For seasonal abundance, see the 2001 “Bird List of Jemison Park” published by the Friends. For more about birds in this area, see Alabama Birds by Thomas A. Imhof.

Wading Birds

Great Blue Heron

Green Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron


Canada Goose

Wood Duck



Turkey Vulture

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Quail and Allies




Spotted Sandpiper

American Woodcock


Rock Dove

Mourning Dove


Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo


Screech Owl

Great Horned Owl

Barred Owl


Common Nighthawk


Swifts and Hummingbirds

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Blue-throated Hummingbird


Belted Kingfisher


Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Yellow-shafted Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker


Belted Kingfisher


Eastern Wood Pewee

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Acadian Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Jays and Crows

Blue Jay

Common Crow


Belted Kingfisher


Purple Martin

Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow

Chickadees and Titmice

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse


Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch


Brown Creeper


Carolina Wren

House Wren

Winter Wren

Gnatcatchers and Kinglets

Belted Kingfisher


Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


Gray Catbird

Common Mockingbird

Brown Thrasher


Cedar Waxwing


Common Starling


Eastern Bluebird


Gray-cheeked Thrush

Swainson’s, or Olive-backed Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Wood Thrush

American Robin


White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Wood Warblers

Blue-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Parula Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Cape May Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Myrtle Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Pine Warbler

Palm Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler

American Redstart

Prothonotary Warbler

Swainson’s Warbler


Northern Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush

Kentucky Warbler

Connecticut Warbler

Mourning Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Hooded Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Canada Warbler

Yellow-breasted Chat


Summer Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

New World Finches


Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting


Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Slate-colored Junco

Oregon Junco

Old World Finches

Purple Finch

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

Evening Grosbeak


Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Rusty Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Weaver Finches

House Sparrow



Three species of owls have been seen or heard regularly along the creek, the most noticeable being the large, brown-eyed Barred Owl. Their distinctive eight-note call is generally rendered in our area as, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you’alllll,” the extended ending dropping in pitch and tempo. Other guttural and expressive vocal efforts as these owls communicate over the valley can be heard throughout the night and are spectacular. Barred Owls have long life spans and have been known to nest in the same area for over thirty years. Among the major reasons to leave dead trees standing in the park, even as cut-off stubs 20-30 feet tall, is that they become a feeding habitat for woodpeckers and other insect-eaters and nesting habitat for cavity dwellers, such as Barred Owls. Who will furnish their next tree?


Mammals of Jemison Park

Due to their generally secretive nature and often nocturnal habits, more mammals are found in Jemison Park than you might suspect. For more information on the mammals found in and near Jemison Park or elsewhere in Alabama, good references are A Field Guide to the Mammals by W. Burt and R. Grossenherden; A Field Guide to Animal Tracks by O. Murie; Mammal Tracks and Signs by M. Elbroch.


Virginia Opossum

Weasels and Allies

Long-tailed Weasel


River Otter


Eastern Mole

Striped Skunk

Southeastern Shrew

Short-tailed Shrew

Bears and Raccoons



Big Brown Bat

Little Brown Bat

Eastern Pipistrel

Evening Bat

Red Bat


Red Fox


Gray Fox

Squirrels and Relatives

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Southern Flying Squirrel

Eastern Chipmunk



Nine-banded Armadillo

Mice, Rats and other Rodents

Eastern Harvest Mouse

White-footed Wood Mouse

Pine Vole

Norway Rat




Eastern Cottontail Rabbit


Songs of the Night

If your ears are tuned for small sounds, you might notice at nightfall the small, high-pitched squeak of a flying squirrel amid the large trees in the park forest. The Southern Flying Squirrel is 5 l/2 to 6 inches in body length with a 3 1/2 to 4 1/2-inch tail, thus much smaller than the common gray squirrel. A loose fold of skin attached to the foreleg and hind leg on each side allows it to glide from tree to tree when the legs are extended. The nocturnal flying squirrel is not often seen but can occasionally be heard in the darkness of the night. Listen carefully for a very high-pitched “tseet” given at intervals of 3-5 seconds, sometimes continuing for several minutes.


Fish of Jemison Park

Many sensitive species are becoming more difficult to find due to the shrinking range of healthy habitat. Alabama has an incredible variety of freshwater fish species. For more information on the fishes found in Shades Creek or elsewhere in Alabama, two excellent references are Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin by M. Mettee, P. O’Neil and M. Pierson; Fishes of Alabama by H. Boschung, Jr. and R. Mayden.

Fish of Jemison Park

Scale Stoneroller, Campostoma oligolepis

Blacktail Shiner, Cyprinella venusta

Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio

Striped Shiner, Luxilus chrysocephalus

Pretty Shiner, Lythrurus bellus

Golden Shiner, Notemigonus crysoleucas

Silverstripe Shiner, Notropis stilbius

Fathead Minnow, Pimephales promelas

Bullhead Minnow, P. vigilax

Creek Chub, Semotilus atromaculatus

Alabama Hog Sucker, Hypentelium etowanum

Black Redhorse, Moxostoma duquesnei

Spotted Sucker, Minytrema melanops

Black-tailed Redhorse, Moxostoma poecilurum

Black Bullhead, Tetalunus melas

Brown Bullhead, T. nebulosus

Yellow Bullhead, T. natalis

Blackspotted Topminnow, Fundulus olivaceus

Mosquitofish, Gabusia complex

Green Sunfish, Lepomis cyanellus

Bluegill, L. macrochirus

Longear Sunfish, Lepomis megalotis

Redear Sunfish, L. microlophis

Redeye Bass, Micropterus coosae

Largemouth Bass, M. salmoides

Spotted Bass, M. punctulatus

Blackbanded Darter, Percina nigrofasciata


What Are Those Saucer-Shaped Depressions in the Creek?

During the spring and summer, you may have noticed some saucer-shaped depressions on the bottom of the creek. These are the nests of members of the sunfish family. In Shades Creek, these depressions are usually made by males of the longear sunfish. Using his tail, the brightly colored male fans out the depression in a gravel or sand area. He then awaits the arrival of a female. Following laying and fertilization of the eggs, the male chases her away and proceeds to defiantly guard the nest and eggs from hungry fellow fish for several days. He even defends the nest and young for a while after they hatch. If you look closely at one of these depressions on the bottom of the creek, you may well see the male longear sunfish dutifully guarding his nest.



Reptiles and Amphibians of Jemison Park

Alabama has more than 135 species of amphibians and reptiles. For more information on the amphibians and reptiles found in Jemison Park or elsewhere in Alabama, two excellent references are The Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama by R. Mount; Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America by R. Conant and J. Collins.


Common Water Snake

Queen Snake

Brown (Dekay’s) Snake

Red-bellied Snake

Garter Snake

Ribbon Snake

Earth Snake

Ringneck Snake

Worm Snake

Black Racer

Green Snake

Corn Snake

Gray Rat Snake

Black Kingsnake



Snapping Turtle


Mud Turtle

Box Turtle

Yellow-bellied Turtle

Softshell Turtle


Geeks, Croaks, and Gunks

Frogs primarily call when breeding conditions become right, and that time varies with the species. Beginning in late winter and early spring, the high-pitched “peep” of the spring peeper can be heard. At this time or slightly later, the “rink, rink” of the mountain chorus frog and the guttural croaks and clucks of the leopard frog can also be heard. The latter sound is often described as if one were rubbing your hand over a balloon. As spring gets into full swing, several other frogs voice their calls. The green or bronze frog emits a “gunk-gunk” from the stream’s edge, and the Fowler’s toad gives a plaintive “waaaaah.” During the late spring and summer, several other species begin calling. The low-pitched bird-like trills of the gray treefrog can be heard from the trees. Along the creek’s edge can sometimes be heard the “click-click” or “geek-geek” of the cricket frog and the deep “jugo-rum” of the bullfrog. Finally, during the middle of summer, the narrow-mouthed toad’s nasal, sheep-like bleat can sometimes be heard after heavy rains.


Green Anole

Fence Lizard

Ground Skink

Five-lined Skink

Broad-headed Skink


Marbled Salamander

Spotted Salamander

Dusky Salamander

Slimy Salamander

Zigzag Salamander

Red Salamander

Two-lined Salamander

Three-lined Salamander

Toads and Frogs

Fowler’s Toad

Cricket Frog

Spring Peeper

Gray Treefrog

Chorus Frog

Narrow-mouthed Toad


Leopard Frog

Green or Bronze Frog


What Are Those Globs of Jelly in that Pool of Water?

In late winter or early spring, you may have noticed some round, golf ball sized globs of jelly in a temporary pool or small pond in the woods, often close to the creek. If you look closely, there are a number of small black objects embedded in the “jelly.” These are likely the egg masses of the spotted salamander. This 5-6″ black salamander with yellow spots spends nearly all of its life burrowing in the leaf litter and rich soil of wooded areas. However, spotted salamanders migrate to temporary pools or forest ponds at night during warm late winter-early spring rains to mate and lay their eggs. The egg mass is a gelatinous ball housing 40-100 individual little eggs. These develop over the next few weeks and hatch as gilled tadpole-like creatures. Over the late spring and early summer, they grow, develop legs and eventually leave the pond as little salamanders to join others in the leaf litter and subterranean areas of the forest floor.


Butterflies of Jemison Park

Suggested field guides are: Butterflies through Binoculars: The East by Jeffrey Glassberg; Butterflies of North America by Jim P. Brock and Kenn Kaufman; A Golden Guide: Butterflies and Moths by Robert Mitchell, et al.

The following is a list of “true butterflies” and host plants. It does not include skippers.

Butterfly Species and Host Plant(s)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus

Tulip Poplar, Black Cherry

Zebra Swallowtail, Eurytides marcellus


Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philinor

Virginia Snakeroot

Spicebush Swallowtail, Papilio troilus


Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes

Queen Ann’s Lace, Dill, Parsley, Fennel

Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes

Rue, Wafer Ash

Cabbage White, Pieris rapae

Cabbage, Nasturtiums

Falcate Orangetip*, Anthocharis midea

Toothwort, Bittercress

Orange Sulphur, Colias euthythema


Sleepy Orange, Eurema nicippe

Partridge Pea and other Cassias

Little Yellow, Eurema lisa

Partridge Pea and other Cassias

Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae

Partridge Pea and other Cassias

Harvester, Feniseca tarquinius

Wooly Aphids (carnivorous)

Gray Hairstreak, Strymon melinus

Many Legumes

White M Hairstreak, Parrhasius m-album


Banded Hairstreak+, Satyrium calanus

Oaks and Hickories

Striped Hairstreak+, Satyrium liparops


Southern Hairstreak+, Fixenia favonius


Coral Hairstreak+, Satyrium titus

Wild Cherry

Red-banded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops

Rotting leaves, often Sumac

Henry’s Elfin*, Callophrys henrici


Eastern Pine Elfin*, Callophrys niphon


Great Purple Hairstreak, Atlides halesus


Juniper Hairstreak, Callophrys gryneus

Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Tailed Blue, Everes comyntas

Many small Legumes

Spring Azure*, Celastrina ladon

Flowering Dogwood

Summer Azure, Celastrina ladon neglecta

Swamp Dogwood, Wingstem

Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae


Variegated Fritillary, Euptoieta claudia

Maypop and Violets

Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria cybele


Pearl Crescent, Phycoides tharos


Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis

Nettles and Hackberry

Eastern Comma, Polygonia comma

Nettles and Elms

Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa

Willows and Hackberry

Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta


American Lady, Vanessa virginiensis

Pussytoes and other Pearly Everlastings

Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui


Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia

Plantains, Gerardia

Red Spotted Purple, Limenitisarthemis astyanax

Willows and Black Cherry

Viceroy, Limenitis archippus


Goatweed Leafwing, Anaea andria

Goatweed and other Crotons

Hackberry Emperor, Asterocampa celtis


Tawny Emperor, Asterocampa clyton


American Snout, Libytheana carinenta


Monarch, Danaus plexippus


Little Wood Satyr, Megisto cymela


Carolina Satyr, Hermeuptychia sosybius


Gemmed Satyr, Cyllopsis gemma


Common Wood Nymph, Cercyonis pegala


*Only flies in the spring
+Only flies in early summer


Many butterfly species fly in the park, attracted here because of the rich diversity of nectar sources and caterpillar host plants. Skippers are intermediate between “true butterflies” and moths. There are around three times as many skippers as true butterflies that inhabit North America, with over 30 species in the Southeast. They are small to medium size and all are brown, with some having white or yellow dots or dashes on the wings. Their host plants include grasses, mallows, clover and other legumes.

Dragonflies and Damselflies of Jemison Park


Order Odonata

Although Alabama has fewer than 200 species in order Odonata, this is probably the highest number of any state in the east other than Florida.

The order is unique among insects in having four equal-length “cellophane” wings and quite small antennae in the adults. It is divided into two suborders: Anisoptera (dragonflies), which hold their wings outspread, and Zygoptera (damselflies), which usually fold their wings over the back when not in flight. Compiling a list of Odonata species that occur in Jemison Park is a work not yet accomplished, but there are family distinctions which are easily observed by the uninitiated, and watching them in action is something to be enjoyed by all.


Probably the most conspicuous are the ones that make up the dragonflyfamily of Skimmers (Libellulidae). They are common, colorful – often with a wing pattern – and aggressive. Fortytwo species of skimmers are known to occur in Alabama. The Green Clearwing is often seen, the male turning blue as it matures. Darners (Aeshnidae) are usually large, with eyes touching dorsally, and almost always perch vertically. Eleven species occur in Alabama. Other families found in our state include 1 species of Petaltails (Petaluridae); 39 species of Clubtails (Gomphidae); 4 species of Spiketails (Cordulegastridae); 5 species of Cruisers (Macromiidae) and 18 species of Emeralds (Corduliidae).


Broad-winged Damsels (Calopterygidae) are large, often brilliant metallic green, many with black in the wing or, in the case of females, a white spot. The five Alabama species breed only in flowing water and fly with a skipping flight. Pond Damsels (Coenagrionidae) are smaller, shorter legged, and often more brightly colored, the males often blue, yellow, or orange and black. They perch horizontally and are found in both still and moving water. There are 38 species in Alabama. Spreadwings (Lestidae) are large, of dark coloration, and may be seen perched obliquely, with wings half spread, around still water. Alabama has 8 species.

List of dragonflies known or expected to occur in Jefferson County.


Shadow Darner, Aeshna umbrosa

Common Green Darner, Anax junius

Fawn Darner, Boyeria vinosa

Swamp Darner, Epiaeschna heros

Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Dromogomphus spinosus

Blackwater Clubtail, Gomphus dilatatus

Splendid Clubtail, G. lineatifrons

Cobra Clubtail, G. vastus

Lancet Clubtail, G. exilis

Ashy Clubtail, G. lividus

Dragonhunter, Hagenius brevistylus

Common Sanddragon, Progomphus obscurus

Stream Cruiser, Didymops transversa

Illinois River Cruiser, Macromia illinoiensis

Common Baskettail, Epitheca cynosura

Mocha Emerald, Somatochlora linearis

Calico Pennant, Celithemis elisa

Banded Pennant, C. fasciata

Swift Setwing, Dythemis velox

Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis

Blue Corporal, Ladona deplanata

Spangled Skimmer, Libellula cyanea

Twelve-spot Skimmer, L. pulchella

Slaty Skimmer, L. incesta

Widow Skimmer, L. luctuosa

Great Blue Skimmer, L. vibrans

Blue Dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis

Wandering Glider, Pantala flavescens

Spot-winged Glider, P. hymenaea

Eastern Amberwing, Perithemis tenera

Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia

Yellow-legged Meadowhawk, Sympetrum vicinum

List of damselflies known or expected to occur in Jefferson County.


Ebony Jewelwing, Calopteryx maculata

American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana

Southern Spreadwing, Lestes australis

Slender Spreadwing, L. rectangularis

Blue-fronted Dancer, Argia apicalis

Violet Tail, A. violacea

Variable Dancer, A. fumipennis

Powdered Dancer, A. moesta

Blue-ringed Dancer, A. sedula

Blue-tipped Dancer, A. tibialis

Dusky Dancer, A. translata

Double-striped Bluet, Enallagma basidens

Familiar Bluet, E. civile

Stream Bluet, E. exsulans

Orange Bluet, E. signatum

Citrine Forktail, Ischnura hastate

Fragile Forktail, I. posita

Rambur’s Forktail, I. ramburii


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