National Wildlife Refuge System
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Refuge Events Calendar

Historic St. Marks Light, first lit in 1831 and a major attraction at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, will be the focus of the refuge's celebration of Florida Lighthouse Day on Saturday, April 23, 2011.

Historic St. Marks Light, first lit in 1831 and a major attraction at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, will be the focus of the refuge's celebration of Florida Lighthouse Day on Saturday, April 23, 2011.

Credit: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS

It is always a good season to visit a national wildlife refuge. The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. There is a National Wildlife Refuge within an hour's drive of most major U.S. cities.

Here is a sampling of upcoming refuge events:

See a Free Nature Film
Listed dates, 1:30 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA. Learn more about Assabet River Refuge.

  • Friday, February 4 — “Manufactured Landscapes” (2006, 80 mins). Photographer Edward Burtynsky documents changes in landscapes from industry.
  • Friday, February 18 —“What Females Want and Males Will Do” (2008, 120 mins.). An episode of the PBS series Nature looks at animal courtship rituals.
  • Wednesday, February 23 — “The Ant Bully” (2006, 88 mins.) After a boy floods an ant colony with his water gun, he's shrunken to insect size and sentenced to hard labor in the ruins.
  • Friday, March 4 — “Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest” (1992, 76 mins.). Animated classic tells how the inhabitants of a magic rainforest fight to save their home from pollution.
  • Friday, March 18 — “Mother Nature's Child” (2010, 57 mins.). An exploration of nature's powerful role in children's health and development.  

Attend Winterfest
Saturday, February 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Free activities focus on how wildlife and people deal with the snow and cold. Try out snowshoes. Enjoy exhibits, nature crafts, face painting, food, sleigh rides, a bonfire and wildlife presentations. Learn more about Sherburne Refuge.

Great Backyard Bird Count
Saturday, February 12, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Observe and learn about ducks, swans, geese, and other migrating birds. The refuge will supply bird lists, binoculars, and a spotting scope for close-up viewing. Results will be entered at www.ebird.org. If weather permits, we will have an activity on mist netting and bird banding. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Go on an Owl Prowl
Friday, February 18, 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Explore the fascinating world of owls in New England. Hear a talk on owl characteristics and identification of owls in Massachusetts. Then head out on refuge trails to locate owls by sight and sound. Bring a headlamp or flashlight. Reserve a space by 4 p.m. Thursday, February 17; only 30 spots available. To register, call 978-562-3527, ext. 115 or 117. Learn more about Assabet River Refuge.

Enjoy a Wildlife Film Festival
Saturday, February 19, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Enjoy a feature-length documentary and some film shorts. Adults $5; Children under 12: $3. Learn more about Patuxent Refuge and see the film schedule.

Go Crane Spotting
Listed dates in March — Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Thursday, March 3 – 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, March 8 – 3 p.m.to 6 p.m.
Friday, March 11 – 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, March 14 – 9:30 a.m. to12:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 17 – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22 – 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Friday, March 25 – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, March 29 – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Join Refuge Wildlife Biologist Gordon Warrick in surveying waterfowl and looking for cranes and other migratory birds. Each survey can accommodate up to nine visitors. Bring binoculars. Surveys may be canceled due to inclement weather or fog. To sign up, call 509-546-8300. Learn more about Columbia Refuge.

Fly a Kite
Saturday, March 12, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Celebrate spring by making and flying your own bird kite. Kite master Greg Greger will demonstrate, using basic everyday materials. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Enjoy a Wildlife Film Festival
Saturday, March 19, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Adults $5; Children under 12: $3.
Learn more about Patuxent Refuge and see the film schedule.

Attend the Patuxent Refuge Wildlife Art Show & Sale
Saturday, March 26, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 27, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Enjoy a free art show & sale. Call 301-497-5789 to buy tickets for a preview reception with the artists Friday evening. Visit the Friends site for more information. Learn more about Patuxent Refuge.

Clean Up a Refuge for Earth Day  
Since 1970, Earth Day has been set aside to stir environmental consciousness and educate individuals about how they can help protect the earth. This year, Earth Day falls on April 22. Many refuges will host public events on or around that day.

To find out if your local refuge has an event scheduled, use the “Find Your Refuge” feature on the Refuge System homepage. Or go to the Visitors tab on the yellow bar at the top of the page, and click on Special Events in the pull-down menu. Click on “Display All Events.” Events are listed chronologically.

  • Clean Up McNary Refuge for Earth Day

Saturday, April 9, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Put on your grubs and help clean up trash at the refuge. Two cleanup areas are reachable on foot; a third area is reachable by kayak. Bring gloves. Meet at the McNary Environmental Education Center. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

  • Clean Up Trinity River Refuge for Earth Day

Saturday, April 30 — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Learn more about Trinity River Refuge.

Enjoy a Wildlife Film Festival
Saturday, April 9, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Adults $5; Children under 12: $3.
Learn more about Patuxent Refuge and see the film schedule.

Celebrate Florida Lighthouse Day
Saturday, April 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Mark the day with a visit to St. Marks's lighthouse. The historic St. Marks Light, first lit in 1831, is a major attraction at the refuge, celebrated for its fishing, hiking, butterfly watching and birding. Learn more about St. Marks Refuge.

Attend the Arbuckle Simpson Nature Festival
Friday, April 29 - Saturday, April 30 — Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, OK
Enjoy hiking, birding and outdoor activities. Learn more about Tishomingo Refuge.

Attend an Ocelot Festival
Sunday, May 1, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Dean Porter Park, Brownsville, TX
The annual festival highlights efforts of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to conserve ocelots and ocelot habitat. Learn more about the festival. Learn more about Laguna Atascosa Refuge.

National Fishing and Boating Week (June 4-12) Many refuges will host public events to mark this annual celebration of fishing and boating, sponsored by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Here is an example.

  • Free Family Fishing Day 

Saturday, June 4, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy “Free Family Fishing Day” at the refuge's Champion Lake Public Use Area. This is the only day that anyone can fish or crab without a license on public waters in the state of Texas. Fishing poles and bait are provided for those who need them. Experienced fishermen will be on hand to help children bait hooks. Learn more about Trinity River Refuge.

Enjoy Greenwing Day
Saturday, August 13, 8 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Learn to band a duck, identify waterfowl, call geese and ducks, retrieve ducks with a Labrador retriever and much more. Members of Ducks Unlimited and the Richland Rod and Gun Club will teach youth of all ages about wildlife conservation. Join us for our most popular annual event! Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Prepare a Hunter Blind
Saturday, September 10
Spruce up the waterfowl hunting blinds. Bring gloves, boots, waders, and tools. Meet at the McNary Environmental Education Center for a brief orientation. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Attend a National Wildlife Refuge Week Open House
Saturday, October 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Travel to Glenwood, WA, and explore Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge at the base of Mt. Adams. Explore the refuge, the new buildings and the wildlife through activities from bird walks to refuge tours. Enjoy the song of sandhill cranes as you walk the Willard Springs Trail. Learn more about Conboy Lake Refuge.

Attend the Patuxent Refuge Wildlife Festival
Saturday, October 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Refuge. See where endangered whooping cranes and sea ducks are raised and studied. Enjoy live animals, kids' crafts, tram tours and behind-the-scenes research tours of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Learn more about Patuxent Refuge.

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