For Monarch butterflies, summer’s end triggers a colorful migration south to Mexico and California. At “Monarch Madness” events at Seney Refuge in Michigan and Neal Smith Refuge in Iowa, volunteers help tag and count butterflies.
|Credit: Gene Nieminen / USFWS|
Summer is high season for family events on national wildlife refuges. Enjoy the last few weeks of freedom before school re-opens for the fall. The fun doesn’t end, though, when the season changes. Fall brings its own excitement to wildlife refuges as creatures begin their preparations for the cold days to come. Looking for adventures the whole gang would enjoy? Read on:
Take Your Best Shot
Through August — Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, NY
Enter your best amateur photos, taken on the refuge between September 1, 2010, and August 31, 2011, in the refuge photo contest. All entries must be received by September 1 at 4 p.m. Photographers 16 and younger can enter in a special youth category. For contest rules and entry forms, see http://www.fws.gov/northeast/iroquois. Winners will be announced in November. Learn about Iroquois Refuge.
Take a Guided Refuge Kayak Tour
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through September, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Learn about refuge wildlife and habitats while you paddle sit-on-top kayaks on the Laguna Madre adjoining the Laguna Atascosa Refuge. No experience needed. Tour fee ($30 per adult; $25 for ages 12 and under) covers equipment, guides, transportation to and from the visitor center and light refreshments. Tours run about two hours. Reservations are required: 956-748-3607. All proceeds benefit the Friends of Laguna Atascosa Refuge. Learn about Laguna Atascosa Refuge. Learn about the Friends of Laguna Atascosa Refuge.
Amateur Photo Contest
Now through August 31 — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Enter your refuge nature photos in a contest. Photos are meant to encourage people to visit the refuge. The photos will be displayed at the visitor center in September and October and on the Seney Natural History Association’s Flickr page. See complete contest rules. Learn about Seney Refuge.
Take a Refuge Tram Tour
Weekdays 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; Weekends, 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. through mid-August — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Daily half-hour tram tours of the refuge begin at the National Wildlife Visitor Center. Tickets ($3 adults; $2 seniors; $1 youngsters 12 and under) are sold at the bookstore in the visitor center lobby. Learn about Patuxent Refuge.
Family Canoe Tours
Wednesdays and Fridays through August, 10 a.m. to noon — Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Enjoy a kid-friendly exploration of the marshes, islands and creeks of Pamlico Sound via New Inlet. $25 per person; $15 for kids 12 and under. Reservations are required: 252-216-9464. Learn about Pea Island Refuge.
Take a “Wildlife Wednesday” Tour
Wednesdays 7 to 9:30 p.m. through August — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Join a guided auto tour along Marshland Wildlife Drive, the Fishing Loop and into the backcountry. Once refuge vehicle seating is full, participants drive their own vehicles (caravan style) and use a radio to communicate with guides. Learn about Seney Refuge.
Take a Summer Howling Safari
Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., through August 31 — 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! Meet at Creef Cut Wildlife Trail parking lot. Bring flashlights and insect repellent. Registration is required: 252-216-9464. Programs typically last about two hours. Cost: $7 per person; age 12 and under, free. No pets allowed. Learn about Alligator River Refuge.
Enjoy a Nature Lecture Series
The first four Wednesdays in August, 7 p.m. — Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Get “In Touch With Nature” at the Nisqually Refuge Visitor Center auditorium.
August 10 — Pacific Feast: Food from Field to Forest
August 17 — Monitoring the Nisqually Delta
August 24 — Understanding Grizzly Bears
See a complete schedule of talks and speakers. Learn about Nisqually Refuge.
Enjoy Green Wing Day
Saturday, August 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Day-long event features lots of conservation activities, especially for youth.
Learn about Swan Lake Refuge.
Thursday, August 11, 9 a.m. to noon — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Thursday, August 25, 9 a.m. to noon — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Saturday, August 27, 9 a.m. to noon — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Help remove invasive plant species on the refuge. Wear long sleeves and sturdy shoes. Tools and training will be provided.
Learn about Great Swamp Refuge.
Blue Goose Conservation Day
Friday, August 12, 5 to 8:30 p.m. — Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND
Spend a family-oriented evening learning about hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation and outdoor skills. Kids receive door prizes and educational materials. A picnic dinner will be served. No pre-registration required. Learn about Audubon Refuge.
Saturday, August 13, 7 to 9 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Join a three-mile hike under the light of the full moon to learn about animals most active at night.
Bring flashlights and hiking boots. Reservations are required: 303‐289‐0930. Learn about Rocky Mountain Arsenal 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 and retrieve ducks with a Labrador. Members of Ducks Unlimited and the Richland Rod and Gun Club will teach youth about wildlife conservation in this popular annual event. Learn about McNary Refuge.
Night Sky Party
Saturday, August 13, 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Environmental Education Center, Alviso
Join amateur astronomers and learn about constellations. Make a star chart and then venture outside to view the night sky through a telescope. Afterwards, warm up with some hot chocolate. Bring your own binoculars or spotting scopes if you have them. Reservations are needed: 408-262-5513 ext. 102. Learn about Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Refuge.
Shorebird Field Trip and Workshop
Saturday, August 13, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE
Join author and bird expert Kevin Karlson on a morning field trip to learn a simple approach to shorebird ID. Then take an indoor afternoon workshop to apply this approach to all bird families. Registration required. Call 302-653-6872. Learn about Bombay Hook Refuge.
Prairie Fun Day
Saturday, August 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Collect prairie seed. Identify plants and waterfowl. Enjoy a GPS scavenger hunt; a nature photography workshop; demonstrations of prescribed fire equipment; dip netting for aquatic bugs; sweep netting for prairie insects; and games. A picnic lunch will be served at noon. Call the Wetland District office at 218-847-4431 for directions. Learn about Hamden Slough Refuge and the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District.
Take a Summer Bird Walk
Sunday, August 14, 1 p.m. — Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, WV
Learn about birds found on the refuge in summer. Learn about Canaan Valley Refuge.
Valley Vibes: Local Butterflies
Saturday, August 20, 7 p.m. — Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, WV
What butterflies are you likely to see in Tucker County? Are there rare butterflies to look out for? Learn about Canaan Valley Refuge.
Take a Wild Ride
Saturday, August 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, OH
Take a trip on the refuge’s Self Guided Auto Tour Drive through seven miles of the refuge that are normally closed to the public. At the entrance, pick up a guide to refuge habitat, management techniques and critter whereabouts. Inclement weather may cancel. Learn about Ottawa Refuge.
Sunday, August 21, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Help collect and tag monarch butterflies before they fly to their winter grounds in Mexico. After an orientation session, participants will be in the field for about three hours. Learn about Seney Refuge.
Family Fishing Workshop
Saturday, August 27, 2 to 6 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Enjoy a hands-on clinic offering tips and tricks for fishing fun from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Reservations are required: 303‐289‐0930. Learn about Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge.
Little Things 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, as well as sunscreen and mosquito repellent. To reserve, call 575-835-1828. Learn 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 about Seney Refuge.
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. — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the new Visitor Center/Administrative Complex overlooking Lake Texoma. Stick around for a tour of the new facility and the refuge. On Saturday, bring the whole family for nature programs, guided hikes, refuge tours, nature crafts and more. Learn about Hagerman Refuge.
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. Learn about Neal Smith Refuge.
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. Learn about Nestucca Bay Refuge.
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 about McNary Refuge.
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. Learn about Rocky Mountain Arsenal 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. For ages 8 and up. Limited to 35 people. Learn about Bosque del Apache Refuge.
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. Learn about Ottawa Refuge.
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. Learn about Canaan Valley Refuge.
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. Learn about John Heinz Refuge.
Guided Bird Walk
Sunday, September 18, 8 a.m. — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Join an expert birder on a guided bird-watching expedition. See the many species of birds that live in and migrate through the refuge. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather. Walks may last two to four hours. Learn about Blackwater Refuge.
Bird Feeder Workshop (Ages 4-18)
Thursday, September 22, 5:30 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. Learn about Audubon 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 ext. 16. Inclement weather date: October 9. Local outfitters in Germfask offer canoe and kayak rentals as well as shuttle service. Learn about Seney Refuge.
Attend a Birding Festival
October 16-22 — J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Attend “Ding” Darling Days birding and eco-festival. Learn about Ding Darling Refuge.
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. Learn about Trinity River Refuge.
Take a Howling Safari
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Free Saturday howlings (no registration required)
October 15, 6 p.m. Wolf Awareness Week
October 29, 6 p.m. - Howl-O-Ween
December 10, 4 p.m. - Holiday Howl
Hear endangered red wolves and learn about them at the only place in the world where they still exist in the wild! Meet at Creef Cut Wildlife Trail parking lot. Bring flashlights and insect repellent. Programs typically last about two hours. No pets allowed. Learn about Alligator River Refuge.
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. Learn about Audubon Refuge.
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. Learn about Blackwater Refuge.