National Wildlife Refuge System
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Seasonal Happenings

 
<A bullfrog rides high and dry above the marsh at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, thanks to a hitch on a painted turtle.
A bullfrog rides high and dry above the marsh at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, thanks to a hitch on a painted turtle.
Credit: Tom Ferguson/ USFWS

Masses of butterflies. Songbirds headed south. Chipmunks scurrying in crisp crimson leaves.
Fall’s natural wonders complement a host of scheduled activities and festivals on national wildlife refuges.

 

Celebrate a Grand Opening
Thursday, September 8, 10 a.m. — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Saturday, September 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the new Visitor Center/Administrative Complex overlooking Lake Texoma. Tour the new facility and the refuge. On Saturday, bring the family for nature programs, guided hikes, refuge tours and nature crafts.  

Join in Monarch Madness
Saturday, September 10, 9 a.m. to noon — Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA
Help collect and tag butterflies on their migration south through the refuge.

Attend a Fall Festival
Saturday, September 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
At the refuge’s 12th annual fall festival, enjoy river seining for water creatures, puppet shows, story-telling, live animal exhibits and nature walks. Explore the new Detective Trail for children at the visitor center. The trail encourages youngsters to touch and smell the flora and fauna. See the new pollinator garden. Take part in a bargain-basement rummage sale.

Birding Hike
Saturday, September 10, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. — Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Join members of the Audubon Society of Lincoln City for a bird-watching hike. 

Fall Festival
Saturday, September 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Enjoy river seining, puppet shows, nature walks and grand opening of Nature Detective Trail.  

Try Geocaching
Saturday, September 10, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Learn to geocache with GPS units. Then walk the nature trail, find listed items and win a prize.

Twilight Tram Tour
Tuesday, September 13, 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Enjoy a 45-minute guided tour on an all-electric, open-air tram.  Tickets: $4 for adults, $3 for ages 55 and up, $2 for children under 12.  Bring exact change.  Space is limited.

Disappearing Treasures
Thursday, September 15, 10 a.m. to noon — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Enjoy a free tour of the National Eagle & Wildlife Property Repository on refuge grounds. See contraband wildlife items that have been seized, and learn about the Native American Eagle Feature Program. Reservations are required: 303‐289‐0930.

Honey Harvest Festival
Saturday, September 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Join the Maryland State Beekeepers Association in celebrating the Annual Maryland Honey Harvest Festival. 

A Scavenger Hunt in the Night Sky
Saturday, September 17, 7 p.m. — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Look for a spiral arm, a globular cluster, a red giant, a swan, a dolphin, a teapot and a black hole on this unique scavenger hunt. Join amateur astronomers in using the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes to find wonders in the sky. Prizes will be awarded in three age groups. Reserve: 575-835-1828. For ages 8 and up. Limited to 35 people.

Refuge Self Guided Auto Tour Drive
Saturday, September 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, OH
Drive through seven miles that are normally closed to the public. At the refuge entrance, pick up a guide that explains refuge habitat, management techniques and where to look for wildlife. Tours may be canceled in inclement weather.

Valley Vibes: All About Bats
Saturday, September 17, 7 p.m. — Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, WV
Bats are among the creatures that inhabit the valley. Learn why they’re important.

Attend a Birding Festival
Saturday, September 17, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, PA
The free Cradle of Birding Wildlife and Conservation Festival features activities for kids, workshops, speakers, music and food.

Lee Road Cleanup
Saturday, September 17, 10 a.m. — Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Meet up with other volunteers at the visitor center to get your water bottle, safety vest and instructions. 

Bird Feeder Workshop (Ages 4-18)
Thursday, September 22, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. — Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND
Use pre-cut lumber to build two types of bird feeders — a fruit feeder for orioles and a tray feeder for a variety of birds. Learn about different types of birds that use the feeders, as well as types of seed and fruit that will attract certain birds. Pre-registration is required: 701-442-5474 ext. 110.

Chessie:  Maryland's Manatee (Ages 5-7)
Friday, September 23, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Chessie the Manatee recently returned to the Chesapeake Bay after a 17-year absence. Come learn about Maryland's rarely sighted endangered sea mammal and its life history through a fun interpretive program.

National Public Lands Day
Many refuges will invite volunteers to commemorate this national day of service, on Saturday, September 24, by helping to clean and enhance refuge property. Check event calendar listings for refuge events near you. September 24 will be a “fee free” day on national wildlife refuges and many other federal lands. Among the more than 30 refuges planning events:

9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Help pick up trash at the Hwy 105 Trinity River bridge.

8 a.m. to noon 
Help maintain the historic Chesser Island Homestead.

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Take part in clean-up activities.

9:30 a.m. to noon
Help rid the refuge of invasive plants.

1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Forest Discovery Hike for ages 8-10

7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Hike with a ranger: Par 4 Drive, El Cajon

 

Chompers & Stompers
Sunday, September 25, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Find out why some birds exhibit such wacky behaviors. Then take a guided walk around the refuge to see these marvelous creatures in action. Reservations required: 408-262-5513 ext. 104. Environmental Education Center, Alviso

2nd Annual Run for the Refuge Event
Sunday, September 25, 9 a.m. — North Tract Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Join a race and support refuge programs. Registration: $25. Completed forms (available at http://runfortherefuge.com/) must be postmarked by September 12. Race-day registration: 8 a.m. to 8:45am.

October Events

Fall Festival
Saturday, October 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, VA
Enjoy refuge tours, kids’ activities, live animals. More festival information is available from the Friends of the Potomac River Refuges.

Bird Watching for Beginners
Saturday, October 1, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Learn how to look for identifying features of birds such as eye rings, wing bars and other distinctive markings. October is a great time to see birds ranging from ducks and geese to migrating songbirds.

Monster Bacteria & Other Suspicious Critters
Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m. to noonDon Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Explore the salt marsh’s hidden habitats for monster bacteria, some of which make the air we breathe. Join a microbial ecologist for a short hike. Then use field microscopes to investigate an ecology hidden from view. Reserve: 408-262-5513 ext. 102. Environmental Education Center, Alviso

Autumn Birds of Parker River Refuge
Sunday, October 2, 9 a.m. to noon — Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Learn about birds in an outdoor classroom. Register: 978-556-3000.

Fall Color Float
Sunday, October 2, 11 a.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Join refuge staff for a four- to five-hour canoe/kayak trip down the Manistique River. Bring your own boat or rent one from a local outfitter in Germfask. Pre-register: 906-586-9851 ext. 16. Inclement weather date: October 9.

Paint-out day
Saturday, October 8, sunrise to 3 p.m. — Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, IN
Bring paint supplies to the refuge to paint an outdoor scene from nature. Bring artwork back to the visitor center by 3 p.m. for judging and ribbons. 

Take a Howling Safari — Wolf Awareness Week
Saturday, October 15, 6 p.m. — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Hear endangered red wolves and learn about them at the only place in the world where they still exist in the wild!

Fall Photo Hike
Saturday, October 15, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Practice your nature photography technique in the final days of fall color in the Rapids Lake Unit.
Bring your own camera and tripod as well as sturdy footwear.

Attend a Birding Festival
October 16-22 — J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Attend “Ding” Darling Days birding and eco-festival. The 22nd annual eco-festival celebrates the birthday of the refuge’s namesake, father of the Duck Stamp program and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Jay N. “Ding” Darling.

Join in an Annual Butterfly Count
Saturday, October 22, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Butterfly enthusiasts of all levels are welcome for the annual Trinity River Butterfly Count.

Collect Acorns
Saturday, October 22, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. — San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Help other volunteers collect acorns in Las Montanas, Hollenbeck Canyon and Sycamore Canyon for planting in December.

Halloween Adventure: The Wild Night Life of the Refuge
Friday, October 28, listed times — Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND
Pre-school through grade 4:  From 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Grades 5-7:  From 7 to 9 p.m.  
Kids are invited out for an evening of fun and learning about the animals that are active at night — bats, owls, coyotes and creepy crawlers. Bring a flashlight. Snacks provided. Pre-registration is required: 701-442-5474 ext. 110.

Take a Howling Safari — Howl-O-Ween
Saturday, October 29, 6 to 8 p.m. — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Hear endangered red wolves and learn about them at the only place in the world where they still exist in the wild!

Discover Bats
Friday, October 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. — Water Conservation Garden, near San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Bats aren't scary this Halloween! Find out why they’re so special. Representatives from the Fish and Wildlife Serve and the Bureau of Land Management will discuss bat myths, answer questions about bats, and tell what you can do to help out these little mammals.

Take a Guided Bird Walk
Sunday, October 30, 8 a.m. to noon — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Join an expert birder on a guided bird-watching expedition. Bring binoculars.

November Events

Michigan's Junior Duck Stamp Winners
Wednesday, November 2, 7 p.m. — Green Point Environmental Learning Center, Saginaw, MI
See Michigan’s winners of the 2011 National Junior Duck Stamp competition. The art contest was open to students ages 5 to 18. Admission: $2; Free for Friends of Shiawassee Refuge. Learn about Shiawassee Refuge.

Loxahatchee Visions
November 8 to 12 — Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Enter submissions for the refuge’s second annual juried art contest. winter season.)
The subject of the art must be inspired by a “Loxahatchee vision.” Adults and children (up to age 18) will be judged separately. Prizes will be awarded Sunday, November 20. More information: http://www.loxahatcheefriends.com/.

Fee-Free Days
November 11-13 — National wildlife refuges
The Department of the Interior is waiving admission fees at national wildlife refuges for
Veterans Day weekend.

Bird Watching for Beginners
Saturday, November 12, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Learn how to look for identifying features of birds such as eye rings, wing bars and other distinctive markings. November is a great time to see waterfowl and you should see many species of ducks, geese, and trumpeter swans.

 

December Events
Take a Howling Safari — Holiday Howl
Saturday, December 10, 4 p.m. — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Hear endangered red wolves and learn about them at the only place in the world where they still exist in the wild!



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