Check-out our wildlife and plant species
Wildlife through the seasons
Tips for watching wildlife
Wildlife needs a variety
of habitats for food, shelter, and raising young. Deer Flat National
Wildlife Refuge is managed
to improve and maintain wildlife habitat. Habitats at Deer Flat
include wetlands, riparian
forests, uplands, and croplands
at the Lake Lowell sector, as well as the 101 Snake
spring and summer, water is released from Lake Lowell to irrigate
surrounding farm fields. (See
link for current water level.) This slow draw-down of the lake
exposes mud flats that provide abundant habitat for shorebirds.
The lake also produces a bumper crop of aquatic vegetation for birds
to feed on, particularly smartweed. In fall, smartweed seeds provide
a feast for migratory ducks heading south. In winter, Lake Lowell
is home to as many as 150,000 ducks and 15,000 Canada geese, and
to the many bald eagles and other raptors attracted to the bounty
provided by the large flocks of waterfowl.
The refuge also has marsh
areas where the water is manipulated to provide feeding, nesting,
and resting habitat for mallards, sora rails, yellow-headed blackbirds,
and other wildlife. Return to top.
near the lake, as well as many of the refuge islands, are forested
with predominantly cottonwood, peachleaf willow, and coyote willow.
These forested areas provide food, nesting sites, and cover from
predators for a variety of tree-dependent species. Refuge managers
maintain these forests by removing
invasive trees like Russian olives and salt cedars. These invasives
crowd out desirable trees that are more valuable to wildlife. Managers
also set prescribed
fires to improve wildlife habitat and to reduce fuel loads.
Return to top.
rabbitbrush, and the bunchgrass Great Basin wild rye dominate the
uplands near the lake and on the islands. Large blocks of this native
habitat can be visited just west of the Visitor Center and on several
of the larger refuge islands. Herbivores like rabbits, gophers,
mule deer, and grasshoppers, feed on upland plants and rely on those
plants for nesting sites and cover. These animals may later be eaten
by predators such as foxes, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, or American
kestrels. Return to top.
at Deer Flat is "for the birds." Approximately 240 acres
of refuge land is irrigated cropland managed to provide food and
cover for wildlife. Local farmers grow corn, beans, peas, wheat,
and alfalfa. These farmers use modern soil-conservation techniques,
such as filter strips, and apply minimal pesticides and fertilizers.
The farmers keep a share of the crop and leave the rest for wildlife.
Pheasants, deer, and other wildlife feed and nest in these fields.
In fall and winter, local Canada geese, as well as migrant geese
and other waterfowl from the north, harvest the abundant food available
in refuge fields. Return to top.
101 islands of the Snake River sector are distributed along 113
river miles between the Canyon-Ada County line in Idaho and Farewell
Bend in Oregon. The islands provide a variety of habitats, including
areas dominated by grasses, sagebrush, and trees such as maples,
box elders and cottonwoods.
they provide a riparian corridor in a sag
March 22, 2010
g habitat for Canada geese, ducks, herons, shorebirds, gulls, cormorants,
and various songbirds. Refuge managers use prescribed
fire to maintain nesting habitat on the islands. In addition,
to protect nesting birds, the islands are closed to all public entry
from February 1 to May 31. Return to top.