Canada geese set up nesting territories on the Snake River islands
in early March, and goslings hatch by mid-April. At the same time,
large numbers of white-fronted geese gather on the Snake River below
Homedale and Weiser before continuing their northward migration.
eagles, ospreys, and great-horned owls nest on both sectors of the
refuge, with most feeding nestlings by the end of April. In April
and May, great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and double-crested
cormorants nest in large rookeries on some of the Snake River islands,
and up to 10,000 pairs of California gulls nest on Smith Island.
early summer, western grebes dance on Lake Lowell while resident
bald eagles look for food for their young. Visitors can see large
numbers of white pelicans on the lake and large broods of Canada
geese on pastures and fields adjacent to the Snake River. By late
July and early August, mallards and wood ducks begin to congregate
on the lake, looking for food in flooded vegetation. As summer progresses
and the lake is slowly drawn down for irrigation, large numbers
of shorebirds come to feed on the exposed mud flats. Look for dowitchers,
sandpipers, godwits, yellowlegs, and plovers. (See link
for current water level)
fall approaches, the number of birds using the refuge increases.
The large, exposed mud flats continue drawing vast numbers of shorebirds.
Resident flocks of ducks and up to 6,000 Canada geese are usually
on Lake Lowell by the second week of October.
As colder weather drives
migrating ducks and geese south, migratory birds join the resident
birds at the lake. Some birds pass through, while others spend the
winter. By mid-November, the goose population peaks at up to 15,000
populations peak in mid-December, with up to 150,000 on Lake Lowell.
Mallards predominate, but small numbers of northern pintail, American
wigeon, green-winged teal, wood duck, common merganser, and northern
shoveler are also present. The Snake River also provides a winter
home for a variety of ducks and geese.
and ducks roost on the lake at night, their activity usually keeping
patches of water open all winter. At dawn, they depart in large
flocks to feed in the surrounding area. Visitors can see these feeding
flights of ducks and geese at dawn or dusk, or view the large flocks
of geese that feed on refuge farm fields during the day. Bald eagles,
which move into the area to feed on weak and injured birds, can
often be seen around the lake.
Check-out our wildlife and plant
Tips for watching wildlife