Wildlife & Habitat
Minidoka is one link in a chain of many Federal and State refuges in the Pacific Flyway that provide habitat for a variety of species during migration each year. Waterfowl are the most abundant migratory wildlife using the refuge.
Molting Areas and Waterfowl
Unlike most birds that molt wing and tail feathers one at a time, waterfowl lose their wing and tail feathers all at once and remain flightless for a month while the feathers grow back.
The refuge’s secluded bays free of disturbance, with lush beds of vegetation, can attract 100,000 molting ducks and geese from July through September. During spring and fall migrations, over 500 tundra swans use the refuge.
A Haven for Waterbirds
Open water, marshes and mudflats provide habitat for an assortment of waterbirds. Western and Clark’s grebes, American coots and killdeer are commonly seen. Careful observers may also see common loons and shorebirds, such as willets, American avocets and Wilson’s phalaropes.
Some birds depend on mutual
defense and isolation to protect their nests from predators. Rather
than nesting alone, they nest in dense colonies on small, isolated
islands or in groves of tall trees. Often, several species nest together
in one colony. By acting together, they can repel most predators.
Important Bird Area
The variety of habitats at Minidoka supports a diversity of birds not found in most areas of Idaho. Over 230 species have been seen on the refuge. Because of the colonies and concentrations of waterfowl, the refuge has been designated an Important Bird Area of Global Importance by the American Bird Conservancy. Some non-migratory species such as sharp-tailed and sage grouse, ring-necked pheasant, gray partridge, and some songbirds are present all year long. Other species only occur during summer or migration.
Bald Eagles can be seen regularly during the fall and winter. Whether perched in a tree, foraging for fish below the dam, or sitting on the ice feeding on waterfowl, they are always a majestic sight. Look for them in large trees around the park during the winter. It takes 4 to 5 years before bald eagles get their white heads, so look carefully to distinguish young bald eagles from golden eagles.
A wide variety of mammals occur on the refuge.
Mule deer are commonly seen near the headquarters. Pronghorns can
be found in small numbers in the wide open sagebrush. Smaller mammals
often seen are beaver, cottontail, jackrabbit, muskrat, porcupine,
raccoon, striped skunk, mink, coyote and several species of bats.
River otters can be seen on occasion. Rare species include cougar,
bobcat, elk, and moose.