Possibly the most adaptable animal in North America (raccoons might disagree), coyotes thrive almost anywhere—including shrub-steppe.
Columbia NWR has a fascinating—and violent—geologic history. To truly know the refuge, you have to understand its past.
Some incredible photographers have donated some incredible photographs. If you can't visit Columbia NWR, this is a great consolation prize.
Washington Ground Squirrels
Too cute by half, Washington ground squirrels unfortunately spend most of the year below ground. Too bad; you can never get enough of them.
Washington Ground Squirrels
Columbia NWR is blessed with an abundance of rock faces, cliffs and crevices—perfect habitat for many species.
Want to see more animals on your trip to Columbia National Wildlife Refuge? Ready to add to your birding "Life List?" Here are some wildlife viewing tips from the "experts."Watching Wildlife
About the Complex
The Mid-Columbia River Refuges are eight refuges within the Columbia Basin.
Columbia is managed as part of the Mid-Columbia River Complex.
Learn more about the complex
About the NWRS
The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
Learn more about the NWRS
Learn About Our Resources
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit any time of the year, but nothing compares to spring. The refuge turns green for a few short months. Fishing returns. Temperatures are perfect for visiting. But it's the explosion of wildlife that truly defines the season and the refuge. Waterfowl by the thousands—tens of thousands—stop by on their great migrations to breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada. Others, like some shorebirds, may be pushing on even further to the countries of the Arctic Circle and need food and rest to continue. While on a shorter, but still epic migration, thousands of lesser Sandhill cranes poke through last year's agricultural fields for leftover grains and protein-rich insects. The cranes, ducks and geese crowd the same fields, creating tornados of flight and noise when they take off together. Less obvious and less awe-inspiring, but more colorful, warblers and finches and kinglets flit along the riparian corridors as they, too, make their way to nesting grounds. Don't miss the show.
Spring is the time for refuge babies. Palm-sized cottontails and spotted fawns are presenting themselves to the world. Where Sandhill cranes recently roosted, the marsh now is hosting the nests of black-necked stilts, American avocets, pied-billed grebes and American bitterns. The Canada goslings have lost their yellow down and are wearing baby coats of gray. Say's phoebes, house finches, marsh wrens and killdeer are conspicuous as they attend their nests. Yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds, magpies and ravens raucously defend their territories. The cliffs hold the large nests of raptors. Everyone is active and vocal! It is a great time to observe and listen to the refuge residents.
Formed by ancient volcanoes, carved by raging waters, these channeled scablands decorate the landscape with towering, fissures of basalt rock. The Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark showcases a portion of the vast Ice Ages Floods in the Columbia Basin.
Page Photo Credits Sandhill Crane Profile - Aditi the Stargazer (www.flickr.com/people/aditithestargazer/), Coyote Sentinel - Bandelier National Monument/Sally King, Basalt Columns - Gordon Warrick, Cedar Waxwings Kissing - Gordon Warrick, Washington Ground Squirrel - Dennis Paulson, Rattlesnake - Gordon Warrick, Black-tailed Jackrabbit - Tom Spinker, Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark - Gordon Warrick
Last Updated: Jun 24, 2015