National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge Week

A child checks for action beneath the surface while ice fishing with his family at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.
A child checks for action beneath the surface while ice fishing with his family at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.
Credit: USFWS
In all seasons, outdoor events on national wildlife refuges draw enthusiastic turnouts. Here, visitors try their hand at ice fishing at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.

In all seasons, outdoor events on national wildlife refuges draw enthusiastic turnouts. Here, visitors try their hand at ice fishing at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.

Credit: 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:

Enjoy a Wildlife Viewing Excursion
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout March, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — National Elk Refuge, WY
Accompany a naturalist on a free wildlife viewing excursion along Refuge Road. Look for bighorn sheep, elk, bison and trumpeter swans. Spotting scopes and binoculars provided. To reserve, call 307-734-9378. Or sign up at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center. Learn more about National Elk 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.

Take a Wetland Walk
Saturday, March 12, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. — Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Learn more about Sacramento Refuge.

Seasonal Photo Tours
Listed dates and times — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Saturday, March 12, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 20, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Sunday, May 15, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Saturday, April 23, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Saturday, May 28, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  
Capture seasonal changes in the refuge landscape and wildlife. Free. Reservations are needed. To reserve, call 303-289-0930. Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.

Go Crane Spotting
Listed dates and times — Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, WA
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. to 12:30 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.

Bison Anniversary Tour
Thursday, March 17, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Join a free bison tour and celebrate the return of American bison to the refuge. Four years ago on this date, 16 American bison were returned to the refuge; today’s herd numbers 50. Reservations are needed. To reserve, call 303-289-0930. Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.

See a Free Nature Film
Friday, March 18, 1:30 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
“Mother Nature’s Child” (2010, 57 mins.). An exploration of nature’s powerful role in children’s health and development. Learn more about Assabet River 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.

Junior Duck Stamp Contest
Friday, March 25 — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Watch as a panel of judges selects Wisconsin’s “Best of Show,” which goes on to compete in the national contest. Judging begins at 8:30 a.m. in the visitor center. The Junior Duck Stamp generates funding for conservation education across the country. Learn more about Junior Duck Stamps. Learn more about Necedah Refuge.

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

Wild Rides
Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout March, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Experience the sights and sounds of the refuge on this free two-hour guided wildlife viewing tour. Reservations required. Call 303-289-0930 to reserve. Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.

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 and sale. Call 301-497-5789 to buy tickets for a preview reception with artists Friday evening. Visit the Friends site for more information. Learn more about Patuxent Refuge.

Families in Nature – “Scatastic!” 
Saturday. March 26, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Learn to identify animals by their scat. Program is aimed primarily at elementary school kids and their families. Meet at visitor center. Learn more about St. Marks Refuge.

Waterfowl ID
Saturday, March 26, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Explore the habitats of refuge waterfowl and get a birder’s help in identifying various species.  Binoculars recommended. Free. Reservations are needed. To reserve, call 303-289-0930.
Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.

Bird Migration
Saturday, March 26, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Spend the morning observing birds around the refuge. The afternoon session is a class with naturalist Celestyn Brozek, an instructor of college ornithology courses and a life-long birder.
Did you know that the longest-living sandhill crane was found in New Mexico? How do we know that the bar-tailed godwit flies to its breeding grounds for eight days non-stop? How can we follow the journey of Arctic terns from North to South Pole and back? Find out.  
Call 575-835-1828 for reservations. Learn more about Bosque del Apache Refuge.

Take Part in a Sharp-tailed Grouse Survey
Friday, April 1 to Friday, April 22 — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
The dawn display of sharp-tailed grouse dancing on a lek (dancing/breeding ground) is one of nature’s true spectacles. Males stomp their feet rapidly, causing their tails to rattle, while they inflate purple neck sacks, called gular, which produce a unique sound. The females watch to select their mate. Pairs of volunteers will hike to the blind by dawn, take weather readings, and then count dancing and non-dancing grouse for an hour. Pre-registration and an hour-long class are required to participate. For more information, or to sign up, e-mail  Sara_Hollerich@fws.gov or call 906-586-9851 x16. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Friends of a Feather
Sunday, April 3, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Join a refuge naturalist in a free tromp through prairie and woodlands in search of birds. Bring
binoculars and cameras. Reservations are needed. To reserve, call 303-289-0930.
Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal 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.

Star Hopping: Find Your Way Around the Night Sky
April 9, 7 p.m. — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Develop basic observational astronomy skills. Learn to star-hop from one bright star to another and find constellations named thousands of years ago. Star charts will be provided. Bring a small flashlight. Meet at visitor center. This program is limited to 35 people, ages 8 and above. To reserve, call 575-835-1828. Learn more about Bosque del Apache Refuge.

Attend a Women’s Outdoor Skills Workshop
Friday, April 15 to Saturday, April 16 — Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, MO
The workshop is designed to give women age 14 and older a chance to learn new outdoor recreation skills. Meet fellow participants at a Friday night sunset hayride and hog roast. Classes the next day include archery, birding identification and techniques, pond fishing, wildlife photography, black powder shooting, Dutch oven cooking and gardening. For further information, call 660-442-3187. Learn more about Squaw Creek Refuge.

Zoom in on Birds
Saturday, April 16, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Train your camera on seasonal birds and learn to identify them. Free. Reservations are needed. To reserve, call 303-289-0930. Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.

Learn About Prairie
Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Learn how to prepare, plant and maintain a prairie. Program is free. Learn more about Horicon Refuge.

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.

Take a Guided Bird Walk
Sunday, April 24, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. or later — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD 
Join an expert birder in a search for resident and migratory birds in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Learn more about Blackwater Refuge.

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

Family Fishing Night
Saturday, April 30, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Enjoy some free fishing fun! Experienced anglers will help, and poles will be available for loan. Reservations are needed. To reserve, call 303-289-0930. Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.

 

Grand Opening
Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Celebrate the grand opening of the refuge’s new visitor center. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be followed by guided walks of the center and trails, and children’s activities. Learn more about Necedah Refuge.

Spring into Nature
Saturday, April 30, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, NY
At this annual celebration, enjoy exhibits, nature crafts, a bald eagle watch and activities for the whole family. See a complete schedule of events and learn more about Iroquois 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.

Brunch with the Birds
Saturday, May 14 — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Celebrate the arrival of migratory birds with the Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge over brunch. Guided bird walks for all skill levels of bird watchers will begin at 7 a.m. Brunch ($6 per person) begins in the visitor center at 11:30 a.m. Call 608-565-2551 to register for the walk and /or brunch. Learn more about Necedah Refuge.

Take a Nighttime Marshbird Tour
Thursday, May 19, and Thursday, May 26, 9 p.m. to midnight Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Use your ears as well as your eyes on these special nighttime refuge tours. Search for secretive marshbirds like the yellow, Virginia and sora rails. Chances are good you will hear their calls.
Meet at the visitor center and come prepared to do battle with mosquitoes and black flies. Head nets, pants, long sleeves and closed shoes are recommended. Pre-registration is required. Call 906-586-9851 ext 16. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Attend a Grand Opening
Saturday, May 21, and Saturday, May 28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Celebrate the opening of the refuge’s new 12,500-square-foot visitor center, with solar arrays, ground source heat pumps, beetle-kill wood, recycled asphalt and many other “green” features. Enjoy family activities, programs and interactive exhibits. Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.

Common Herps of Bosque del Apache
Saturday, June 4, 7:30 a.m. — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
The scientific study of amphibians and reptiles is known as herpetology; “herps” is shorthand for both. Learn their life histories and some of their surprising survival strategies. Improve your field identification skills. Following the slides and discussion, go into the field to observe several species present at the refuge. Bring close-focusing binoculars, insect repellent and sunscreen. Limited to 18 participants. To reserve, call 575-835-1828. Learn more about Bosque del Apache Refuge.

Amateur Photo Tours
Some Thursdays in June, July, August and September, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Join other amateur photographers to explore the refuge, find great shots and share photos and skills. You should have a working knowledge of your equipment and come prepared for a variety of weather and bug conditions. (See calendar for dates and details.) Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Take a Hike
Sunday, June 5, 9 a.m. to noon — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Enjoy an easy-to-moderate 2.5-mile hike with refuge staff in honor of National Trails Day. Meet at the main lot of the auto tour route off Hwy 49. Learn more about Horicon Refuge.

Get Buggy
Saturday, June 11, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Explore bugs of the shrub steppe habitat and wetlands.  Nets, jars and microscopes will be provided.  Get help in identifying butterflies. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Wildlife Wednesdays
Wednesdays in June, July and August, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Join a casual, guided auto tour onto Marshland Wildlife Drive, the Fishing Loop and into the backcountry. View wildlife, enjoy the scenery and learn about refuge history and management. . Once refuge vehicle seating is full, participants drive their own vehicles (caravan style) and use a radio to communicate with guides. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Nature Crafts & Fairy Houses
Saturday, July 9, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Craft a critter hut, make a toy or weave a tiny raft out of sticks, leaves, cattails, rocks and milkweed pods. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Hummingbird Banding Workshop
Saturday, July 30, 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Bosque del  Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Help capture and band hummingbirds found on the refuge during the spring and summer. Help record their measurements, conditions, sex and age. Hear the beat of the bird’s tiny but powerful heart. Sharpen your hummingbird identifying skills. Call 575-835-1828 for reservations. Learn more about Bosque del Apache 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, 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.

Monarch Madness
Sunday, August 21, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Would you like to participate in collecting and tagging monarch butterflies? Join us for this morning of Monarch education and citizen science. We will start with an orientation session and then will be in the field for about 3 hours. To complete the day we will have a going away party for the butterflies as we wish them a safe journey to their winter grounds in Mexico. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Little Things that Rule the World
Saturday, August 27, 7:30 a.m. — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
There are more kinds of insects in the world than all other kinds of animals combined. Learn about the fascinating world of insects — their beauty, mystery and some of their extraordinary survival strategies. Go into the field to find and observe several of the species present at the refuge. Bring close-focusing binoculars if you have them, as well as sunscreen and mosquito repellent. To reserve, call 575-835-1828. Learn more about Bosque del Apache Refuge.

Amateur Photo Contest
Through Aug. 31 — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Adults and youth photographers may submit up to five photos meant to encourage refuge visitation. Winning photos will be displayed at the visitor center in September and October and on Seney Natural History Association’s Flickr page. See contest categories and rules. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Prepare a Hunter Blind
Saturday, September 10 — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
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.

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 and find items on your list. Turn in your list for a prize. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Scout Day
September 17, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Join scouts in elementary school grades K-4 in exploring Seney National Wildlife Refuge and completing badge requirements. All participating scouts will receive a Seney Scout Day badge. Pre-registration is required and spaces fill quickly. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

A Scavenger Hunt in the Night Sky
Saturday, September 17, 7 p.m. — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
A spiral arm, globular cluster, red giant, swan, dolphin, teapot, and black hole. These are a few
of the cosmic wonders to find on this unique scavenger hunt. Join amateur astronomers in using the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes to find a unique group of objects. Prizes will be awarded in three age groups. Call 575-835-1828 for reservations. Ages 8 and above. Limited to 35 people. Learn more about Bosque del Apache Refuge.

Fall Color Float
Sunday, October 2, 11 a.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Join refuge staff for a 4 to 5 hour canoe/kayak trip down the Manistique River as leaves are changing color. Pack a lunch, dress for the weather and pre-register. Bring your own boat or rent one from a local outfitter. Call Sara Hollerich for more details 906-586-9851 x16. Inclement weather date: October 9. Local outfitters in Germfask offer canoe and kayak rentals as well as shuttle service. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Study Owls and Owl Pellets
Saturday, November 12, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Why are owls so mysterious?  Learn the secrets of their eyes, feathers, neck vertebrae and hunting skills.  Then, examine and dissect owl pellets to figure out what they eat and what they can’t digest. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

Learn How to Care for Planet Earth
Saturday, December 10, 9 a.m. to noon — McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Children’s program: View videos on how you can help and why. Take a walk in the snow to look for animal signs. Learn how animals adapt to changing seasons and climate. Learn more about McNary Refuge.

 

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