December 2011 Events
Birders take part in a Christmas Bird Count at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. From December 14 to January 5, many refuges nationwide will take part in this 112th annual bird count, sponsored by National Audubon Society.
Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Now until Christmas — Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, ME and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK
Grab your hand saw and harvest your own tree from the surplus at these refuges. Moosehorn Refuge allows two balsam fir pine trees to be cut per person; Pick up a free permit from the refuge office before you cut. Kenai Refuge allows visitors to cut one tree per family. See more detailed information. No fees or permits are required.
Wildlife Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, December 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Shop for wild new and gently used treasures. Purchases support the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the Patuxent Research Refuge.
Make a Splash for Pupfish
Saturday, December 3, 8 a.m. to noon — Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Jump in the stream and help cut overgrown cattails. Removing cattails helps improve habitat for the endangered Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish! You will get wet, but the water is warm! Register online at www.getoutdoorsnevada.org.
Nature Crafts for the Holidays
Saturday, December 3, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, LA
Get in the holiday spirit by making evergreen swags, ornaments and birdfeeders with natural materials that the refuge provides or that you have collected to share with others.
Guided Bird Walk
Sunday, December 4, 8 a.m. to noon — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Join an expert birder on a guided bird watching expedition.
Volunteer Work Day
Wednesday, December 7, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Help cage and protect young trees to boost their survival rate. Wear waterproof footwear. Bring gloves. Sign up: 360-887-4106.
A Pioneer Christmas
Wednesday, December 7, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. — Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Celebrate Christmas customs of the past and present with craft-making, hot chocolate, popcorn and cookies. Admission: $2 per person. Green Point Environmental Learning Center.
Holiday Open House
Thursday, December 8, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Celebrate the holiday season with staff from the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture — a public-private partnership to protect what is left of the Cache River watershed.
Christmas on Chesser Island
Saturday, December 10, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. — Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA
Celebrate the holiday season with a hayride, luminaries, refreshments, caroling and live music. Tour a swamp homestead decorated with traditional homemade decorations.
Saturday, December 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Saturday, December 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Venture off-trail and learn how to find your way in the remote backcountry of the Mojave Desert. Event will include beginner compass skills, orienteering challenge course, 2.5-mile hike, prizes and fun for the whole family. Registration is required: 775-372-5435.
Take a Howling Safari — Holiday Howl
Saturday, December 10, 4 p.m. — 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.
Saturday, December 10, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. —Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Help plant trees to improve the Carty Unit. Wear waterproof footwear. Bring gloves.
From Saturday, December 10 at 2 p.m. until Sunday, December 11 at 2 p.m. (24 hours) — Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Take part in a species survey of every living thing at the refuge. Or take a guided early morning owl
walk, a native plant tour, or a reptile and amphibian trek. Submit a legible field documentation sheet and be eligible to receive an official certificate of participation and a citation as a Contributing Field Scientist in the final published report. Register ahead: 408-262-5513 ext. 103. See full schedule. Environmental Education Center, Alviso
Frosty Photo Tour
Saturday, December 10, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Tuesday, December 13, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Practice photographing wildlife and winter landscapes.
Sunday, December 11, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Explore the landscape for features highlighted by the low-hanging sun, as the winter solstice nears.
Look for owls, birds and beaver. A $5 per person voluntary donation is asked by co-sponsors Musketaquid Arts and Environment and Friends of Assabet River Refuge. Meet at Monsen Road, off Rte. 62. Questions: 978-760-193.
South Bay Salt Works Guided Nature Tours
Sunday, December 11, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, South Bay Unit
On this Audubon-led tour, see the birds and other wildlife in an area of the salt ponds normally closed to the public. Learn the history of the south bay and plans for restoring the refuge. Meet in the South Bay Salt Works Parking lot at 1470 Bay Blvd. in Chula Vista, CA. No restrooms. Recent rain cancels, so please call the "Salt Pond Tour Hotline" to check at (858) 273-7800 X 107.
Take a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride in Elk Country
Monday, December 12 to end of March, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Christmas — National Elk Refuge, WY
Hour-long horse-drawn sleigh rides, led by Double H Bar, Inc., have a bonus: a close-up view of the refuge’s great elk herds. Tickets ($18 adults; $14 ages 5-12; under age 5 free) are sold at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center. Learn more about the rides here.
Christmas Bird Count
December 14 through January 5 — Participating refuges
Many refuges nationwide will take part in this 112th annual bird count, sponsored by National Audubon Society. Check the Refuge System event calendar for updates. Among participating refuges:
- Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN (Saturday, December 17, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.),
- Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL (Monday, December 19, 6 a.m. to sunset.),
- Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX (Tuesday, December 27, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.),
- Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, OK (Friday, December 30, 7 a.m. to noon).
Self-Guided Auto Tour
Saturday, December 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, OH
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 hangouts.
Saturday, December 17, 11 a.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join a local historian for a tour of one of the refuge’s World War II-era ammunition storage bunkers. Meet in the visitor center lobby at 680 Hudson Road, Sudbury. Register: 508-485-4170. Snow will cancel.
Join a Bird Count
Sunday, December 18, all day — Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Bird counting teams will cover about a third of Kent County on this day, including Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. To sign up, contact Walter Ellison and Nancy Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-778-9568.
Kids’ Bird Count
Wednesday, December 28, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
The refuge’s second annual CBC4Kids! (Christmas Bird Count for Kids) is meant for ages 6-15 and modeled after Audubon's nationwide bird count. The day starts with a Binocular Boot Camp and bird ID workshop. Then, kids head off with biologists to count as many birds as they can. Information: 435-734-6444.
Wednesday, December 28, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Tour a winter wonderland on the refuge’s Reindeer Express bus.