National Wildlife Refuge System

Birding on Refuges


Birding Home Page

There are more than 700 species of birds on National Wildlife Refuges. More than 200 refuges were created specifically to protect, manage and restore habitat for migratory birds.

You may find birding guides or checklists on individual refuge Web sites. The U.S. Geological Survey also keeps birding checklists for some refuges. A guide provides pictures and descriptions of birds; a checklist provides more detailed information, including the best time of year to see individual species.

In 2014, five national wildlife refuges earned places on a USA Today “10 best” list for bird-watching. Here's the story.


Find Your Refuge

Refuge Map state of Vermont state of California state of Wisconsin state of Maine state of Nevada state of Utah state of Arizona state of Iowa state of Colorado state of New Mexico state of New York state of Nebraska state of Kansas state of Indiana state of North Dakota state of South Dakota state of Oklahoma state of Illinois state of Alabama state of Minnesota state of Kentucky state of Missouri state of Ohio state of Louisiana state of Florida state of Mississippi state of Arkansas state of South Carolina state of Tennessee Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands state of Georgia state of North Carolina state of Virginia state of West Virginia state of Pennsylvania state of Maryland state of Delaware state of New Jersey state of Montana state of Oregon state of Michigan state of Washington state of New Hampshire state of Massachusetts state of Connecticut state of Rhode Island state of Idaho state of Texas state of Wyoming state of Alaska Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge Pacific Islands Pacific Remote Islands

Featured Birds

Black Oystercatcher

As its name suggests, the black oystercatcher has a particular taste for shellfish, and settles its nest along rocky shorelines. While it eats mainly mollusks, it hardly ever eats actual oysters, instead opting for mussels and limpets. READ MORE >>

Featured Refuges

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, MT

Only about 40 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge may well be one of the only places in the world where the calls of beautiful trumpeter swans ring out almost all year long. MORE Here >>

Featured Birds

Common Tern

It may look like your average seagull, but don’t expect the common tern to steal your snacks at the beach. READ MORE >>

Featured Refuges

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI

An active player in the recovery efforts of numerous endangered animals and habitats since its establishment in 1939, central Wisconsin’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is home to rare and iconic species like the whooping crane. READ MORE >>

Featured Birds

Piping Plover

Named for its full, melodic tone, the piping plover is unique to North America, and despite widespread habitat loss, can be found on stretches of sandy beach all across the Atlantic coast. READ MORE >>

Featured Refuges

Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, OR

With more than 372 acres of designated wilderness and habitats ranging from rough rocky coasts to dense coniferous forests, Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge Refuge counts up to 1.2 million seabirds nesting on the refuge each breeding season. READ MORE >>

Featured Refuges

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, VT

Nestled along the banks of Lake Champlain, just five miles from the Canadian border, Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is a dream for both waterfowl and birders. READ MORE >>

Last updated: August 28, 2015