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Seasons of Wildlife

Sandhill cranes and juvenile bald eagle in flight on refuge pond / Dave Welling ©

While there is always something interesting to see, you will find the greatest numbers of birds at the refuge from early November to mid-February.

 

If you arrive shortly before dawn and wait near the flight deck observation area, you will see thousands of light geese milling around on the water. Just about the time the sun peeks over the hills, the flock responds to a subtle trigger and thousands of geese rise en masse from the water in a thrilling thunder of wings and fill the sky as they fly low over your head to the north to spend the day feeding in the fields.

In the late afternoon they streak the sky in long wobbly skeins as they return to the water to roost for the night. The afternoon fly-in is almost as much fun as the morning fly-out. Hundreds of sandhill cranes fly out in smaller groups after the geese have left the ponds and return late in the afternoon. Remember that pre-sunrise temperatures can be really low in the winter so be sure to dress in warm clothing. Check the weather forecast and sunrise. (link to map page)

During the winter daylight hours you can drive the auto tour loop or hike the trails and see groups of light geese and cranes, thousands of ducks of many varieties, hundreds of Canada geese, dozens of hawks, eagles, blackbirds, crows, roadrunners, herons, sparrows, grebes, coots, and other birds along with occasional reptiles, amphibians and mammals, such as mule deer, coyotes, and jackrabbits. Check the bulletin board at the entrance booth for recent sightings.

American white pelicans pass through in the spring and fall. Bring your insect repellant; mosquitoes are numerous and voracious. Summer is the time to see Canada geese, ducks, cormorants, grebes, heron and egrets (perhaps, nesting), ibis, killdeer, stilts, turkey vultures, hummingbirds, doves, pheasants, quail, turkeys, meadowlarks, finches, grackles, kingbirds, towhees, gulls, swallows, avocets and many other bird species along with mule deer and coyotes.

Page Photo Credits — Sandhill cranes and juvenile bald eagle in flight on refuge pond / Dave Welling ©
Last Updated: Apr 17, 2014
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