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Refuge Events Calendar

Just after daybreak, the sun paints a wetland at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. Upland prairie habitats are also important to the refuge. An April 16 event there will focus on prairie creation.
Just after daybreak, the sun paints a wetland at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. Upland prairie habitats are also important to the refuge. An April 16 event there will focus on prairie creation.
Credit: Ryan Hagerty/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:

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, rattle their tails and inflate purple neck sacks, called gular. 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. To sign up, e-mail  Sara_Hollerich@fws.gov or call 906-586-9851 x16. Learn more about Seney Refuge.

Become a Nature Keeper (For youngsters, grades 5-8)
Sundays, April 10, April 17, 1:30 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Take part in wetland explorations, mammal tracking and learning about bird migration.
Call 978-562-3527 x117 for more information. Learn more about Assabet 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.

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.

Fishing Frenzy
Saturday, April 9, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Calling all youth anglers! Join a fishing derby just for you. Win a prize. Learn about casting, knot tying, fishing ethics, water safety and fish identification. For reservations, call 303-289-3760. Learn more about Rocky Mountain Arsenal 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. Next-day classes include archery, birding identification and techniques, pond fishing, wildlife photography, black powder shooting, Dutch oven cooking and gardening. For more 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.

Peeps and Pastries Birding Tour
Saturday, April 23, 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, KS
Join the birding experts on Saturday morning for pastries, followed by a guided tour of the refuge to look at the birds! Limit: 20 people. Reservations required. Register early at 620-486-2393. Learn more about Quivira Refuge.

Seasonal Photo Tours
Listed dates and times — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Saturday, April 23, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Sunday, May 15, 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.

Take a Guided Birding Hike in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Listed dates at 8 a.m. (except as noted) — Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Saturday, April 16 — Oaks to Wetlands Trail
Sunday, May 8 — Kiwa Trail
Saturday, May 14 — Oaks to Wetlands Trail (3 p.m.)
Sunday, May 22 — Kiwa Trail
Listed dates at 8 a.m. (except as noted)  — Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, WA
All birding hikes are on the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail.
Sunday, April 17
Saturday, May 7
Sunday, May 15 (3 p.m.)
Saturday, May 21
Listed dates at 8 a.m. (except as noted)  — Pierce National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Saturday, April 16 
Saturday, April 23
Saturday, May 21
To reserve a place, contact Eric Anderson at 360-887-4106 or eric_anderson@fws.gov.
Learn more about Ridgefield Refuge, Steigerwald Lake Refuge and Pierce 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.

Attend an Earth Day Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Plan your nature-scape with birds and other pollinators in mind. Native plant selections will include: wood violets, checkermallow, wild ginger, starry sedum, purple penstemon, foam flower, evergreen huckleberry, mock orange and low Oregon grape. Learn more about Tualatin River 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, 11:30 a.m. — 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 is $6 per person. Call 608-565-2551 to register. Learn more about Necedah Refuge.

Help Count Birds
Saturday, May 14, all day — Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, KS
Take part in a county-wide North American Migration Count. All levels of expertise welcome. For more information, call 620-486-2393. Learn more about Quivira 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
Learn the life histories and surprising survival strategies of some amphibians and reptiles. Improve your field identification skills. Then go into the field to observe several species present at the refuge. Bring close-focusing binoculars, insect repellent and sunscreen. Space is limited.  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 in exploring the refuge, finding great shots and sharing skills. 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 auto route lot of off Hwy 49. Learn more about Horicon Refuge.

Take a “Wildlife Wednesday” Tour
Wednesdays in June, July and August, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Join a guided auto tour along 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.

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. 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 in this 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
Help collect and tag monarch butterflies before they head to their winter grounds in Mexico. After an orientation session, participants will be in the field for about three hours. 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
Insect species outnumber all other kinds of animals combined. Learn about the fascinating world of insects and some of their extraordinary survival strategies. Go into the field to observe several 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.

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
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. Call 575-835-1828 for reservations. Ages 8 and up. 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 four- to five-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.

 

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