Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain-Prairie Region

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The rolling green hills provide a glimpse of native prairie. Current management and future plans are to emphasize the untouched character of the landscape. Expect to see vast panoramas of mostly untouched grasslands much as great-grandpa might have seen.

There are interesting things to see on the Refuge each season, as you will see in our Calendar of Natural Events. During the spring and fall a wide variety of migrating shorebirds and passerines utilize the refuge as a stop on their trip. In the summer months breeding ducks and geese populate the lakes. Red-tailed hawks and Northern Harriers search the meadows for prey. You can also find white tail deer, mule deer, antelope, and a variety of resident birds including pheasants and grouse.

For more information on wildlife visit the bird and mammal lists.

Photo of a landscape of sandhills and water - Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Calendar of Natural Events


  • willows are the first trees to “green up”

  • Canada geese and sandhill cranes migrate through

  • pelicans and other marsh and water birds arrive

  • large numbers of Wilson's phalarope arrive

  • warblers return

  • grouse dance in mid-April

  • giant Canada geese nest

  • goslings appear in late April

  • snakes and turtles become active

  • bass spawn

  • bluegills spawn

  • chorus frogs call (sounds like a finger running across the teeth of a comb)


  • spiderwort, yucca, prickly pear, and the endangered blowout penstemon bloom in June

  • female cottonwood trees drop cotton (seeds)

  • upland sandpipers seen on fence posts

  • shorebirds seen on mudflats

  • cormorants nest on Goose Lake

  • eared grebes seen on floating nests on Smith and Deer Lakes

  • grouse, pheasant, and waterfowl broods visible

  • antelope bear their young (kids)

  • fawns visible

  • garter snakes bear live young

  • toads call (sounds like bleating sheep)

  • blue-winged teal arrive in August

  • sunflowers bloom in late summer


  • big bluestem (turkey foot) seeds out

  • painted turtles bask on logs and muskrat huts

  • bass fishing improves with cooler days

  • horned larks and meadowlarks forage along roadsides

  • dispersal of coyote pups

  • antlered deer visible

  • deer in rut

  • peak waterfowl migration in November


  • most visible species: pheasant, northern harrier, and large wintering deer herds

  • golden eagles present

  • deer drop antlers

  • reptiles underground and dormant

  • ice fishing on Island Lake, Crane Lake, and Smith Lake

Last updated: March 21, 2011