Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region
Deer Flat NWR
13751 Upper Embankment Rd Nampa, ID 83686
Phone: 208-467-9278
Fax: 208-467-1019

Tips for Wildlife Watching

Nesting ospreyWith over 250 bird species and 30 mammal species on the refuge, the patient observer or photographer has many excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities. To maximize your chance of seeing wildlife, plan when to visit, where to go, and how to see wildlife.

When to Visit
The refuge is open all year from dawn to dusk. The refuge visitor center is open weekdays from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., except on Federal holidays. Wildlife is generally most active in the mornings and early evenings. Each season brings different wildlife-viewing opportunities. The best season for viewing a wide variety of wildlife is from September through December. Return to top.

Where to Go
Viewing wildlife through the spotting scope at the Visitor Center observation roomView a variety of upland, riparian, and lake wildlife from the Visitor Center observation room. In recent years, nesting osprey have been visible in spring and summer on the nest platform visible from the observation room. In winter, large numbers of bald eagles can often be seen from the observation room.

The entrance to the short nature trail that departs from the Visitor Center parking lotIf you prefer a walking tour, visit the 1/2-mile, self-guided Nature Trail at the Visitor Center. Visitors interested in a longer hike can follow several miles of internal refuge roads beginning at the Visitor Center or at Gotts Point.

During your visit, consider borrowing a digital camera at the Refuge Visitor Center and participating in the Refuge photo scavenger hunt program!

For a driving tour, take the 29.5-mile Lake Lowell Unit Bird Tour or the 47-mile Snake River Islands Unit Bird Tour. Both tours start and end at the east end of the Upper Dam.

For information about other places to watch wildlife in Idaho, find out about the Idaho Birding Trail.
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How to See Wildlife
Here are a few tips to make wildlife watching enjoyable and rewarding:

  • Visit in the morning or early evening when wildlife is generally most active.
  • If driving, stay in your car to avoid scaring wildlife.
  • If walking, move slowly and quietly to avoid scaring wildlife.
  • Stay on maintained trails and do not approach wildlife too closely.
  • Sit quietly and wait patiently. Although wildlife may disappear when you arrive, if you are quiet and still they will often return shortly.
  • Use binoculars or a spotting scope to view animals up close without disturbing them.
  • Bring a field guide to help you identify the species you see. Consult the refuge bird list, mammal list, and other wildlife lists to find out what to expect.
  • Improve your birding skills at other web sites:
    Bird Song Tutor
  • Look for indirect evidence that other animals have been there before you. You might see tracks or chewed leaves or branches.
  • Leave pets at home. Pets will scare wildlife before you get a chance to see it.
  • Watch the osprey nest in front of the Visitor Center from home on the Friends of Deer Flat Osprey Nestcam
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Last updated: March 29, 2013