Merced NWR Wildlife Observation
The Merced NWR auto tour route allows visitors to remain in their automobile, using it as a “blind” while observing wildlife throughout various habitats. The auto tour route includes two elevated observation decks with spotting scopes that allow even closer views of wildlife, and interpretive panels that provide information about wildlife, habitats, and refuge management to further enhance visitors’ experiences. Nature trails give visitors a chance to get out of their cars and experience nature and wildlife up-close.
The Merced NWR provides an auto tour route of 5 miles. The auto tour route loops around seasonal wetlands and upland grasslands providing views of thousands of Ross’ geese and lesser sandhill cranes during the fall and winter along with a diverse concentration of dabbling ducks and shorebirds.
Meadowlark Trail travels through the different habitats found on the Refuge, including native grassland meadows, riparian corridors, and seasonal wetlands. This mixture attracts a diversity of birds species that vary with each season. (1.5-mile loop)
The Kestrel Trail is a short grassland loop that is home to many different songbirds that are very vocal during the spring nesting season. Various raptor species are also visible in the nearby native cottonwood trees. (0.5-mile loop)
The Bittern Marsh Trail is a serene tree-lined loop around a permanent wetland that provides a chance to see and hear marsh birds and the occasional great-horned owl. (1-mile loop)