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Wildlife Observation

DragonflyIn late May and June dragonflies emerge in large numbers on the refuge.  There are many species ranging in colors from bright blue, to green and red, that delight visitors.  Why not give dragonfly watching a chance? Check out some close focus binoculars and a dragonfly guide free at the front desk of the Visitor Center and take a walk on the Pine Ridge Nature Trail.  Sometimes these friendly insects will even hitch a ride on your shirt!


Tips for seeing wildlife:

  • Take your time. The people who see the most take time to stop and look, are alert, and are quiet.
  • Listen. One of the best ways to find an animal is to hear it first. Many animals are camouflaged very well and it takes a while to see them. If you hear their call you can get an approximate location, then look.
  • Watch for movement. Because they are so well camouflaged sometimes the best way to see an animal is to watch for movement. Whether it is a tree rustling when there is no breeze, a flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye, or some other signal, many times movement will betray a hidden animal.
  • Timing. Plan your trip based on what you would like to see. If you want to see migratory birds, come in the spring or fall. If you would like to see loons, swans, or other resident wildlife, the best time to visit is late spring, summer, or early fall.
  • Dawn and dusk are the best times to view wildlife. Remember the refuge is only open during daylight hours.
  • Don’t forget your binoculars or spotting scopes. If you don’t have binoculars the Visitor Center has several pairs you can borrow.
  • Look for signs of animals. Search for tracks, missing bark on trees, burrows, scat, and other signs animals have been in the area.
  • Look in edge habitats. These are areas between different types of habitats, for example where the plants meet the water, treetops, or where the forest and meadow meet. These areas are wonderful places for wildlife.
  • If you are looking for a specific type of animal, do a little research and find out where they like to live. This can help you find the right spot to search.
  • Do not disturb a wild animal! Wild animals are unpredictable and will defend themselves if they feel threatened. 
  • Be patient!

The Seasons at Seney

Spring - a busy time at the refuge. Wildlife, dormant for the winter, begins to wake. Black bears rouse, and their cubs, which were born over the winter, venture out of the den for the first time. The lively, little chipmunks began their never ending search for food. Virtually frogcicles during the winter, wood frogs and spring peepers thaw and begin their mating calls, filling the evening air with songs. Old friends, like the Canada goose, common loon, and trumpeter swan, return from their wintering grounds to raise their families. Visitors at this time may be lucky enough to see the mating dances of the sandhill crane or sharp-tailed grouse.

Late spring and early summer - beware of the biting insects (black flies, deer flies, and mosquitoes, etc.) and ticks which emerge this time of year. Be sure to bring your bug spray! Despite the insects, spring and summer are the best times to view many species of wildlife and their young. Imagine early June when snapping and painted turtles are commonly seen nesting along the roadsides. Watch the drama on the refuge pools from the comfort of your vehicle on the wildlife drive. See ospreys fishing in the ponds, waterfowl defending their territory, river otters playing, or beavers busy building their lodges or dams.

Autumn - the weather begins to get colder, animals begin their preparations for winter. Migratory birds begin their long journey to their wintering grounds; fat from the bounty of the northland. The birds aren’t the only animals preparing for a long journey. The last generations of monarch butterflies have a long voyage ahead as well. These amazing insects will migrate all the way to Mexico for the winter. The fall colors at Seney are breathtaking whether viewed by car, bike, foot, or canoe.

Winter - don’t let the cold weather and snow cover fool you. There is still a lot of action on the refuge. While the animals are harder to see, signs they are here can be found everywhere. Coyote and wolves leave tracks, river otters run and slide across the snow, mice, like little miners, build elaborate tunnels under the snow, and squirrels can be seen scrounging for scraps on the forest floor. Although the Visitor Center is closed, the cross-country ski trails are groomed as conditions and staff allow, usually once per week. Snowshoeing is popular as well, but is not permitted on the groomed cross-country ski trails. The scene at Seney changes by the minute; you never know what excitement lies around the next bend.


Page Photo Credits — Dragonfly - © Matt Reinbold
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2014
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