National Wildlife Refuge System
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May 2012 Events

two white pelecans

Two white pelicans ─ a mature bird (right) and an immature one ─ take flight from the water in California. The amazing annual journeys of white pelicans and many other migratory bird species are the focus of International Migratory Bird Day celebrations in May.

Credit: Lee Karney

Shorebird Festival
Friday, May 4 to Sunday, May 5 — Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Celebrate the Washington coast’s annual spring shorebird migration. Activities include field trips, lectures and a birding marketplace. Friday events will take place from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the refuge and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hoquiam High School. Saturday activities will be from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hoquiam High School. Sunday events will take place at Hoquiam High School from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bird Photography for Beginners
Saturday, May 5, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Learn how to spot birds, what behavior to look for, and how to ethically capture them on pixels or film. You’ll need a lens extending to at least 300mm on a digital SLR or the 35mm-equivalent on an advanced point-and-shoot camera. Tripods are recommended. Reservations: 408-262-5513 ext. 102.

Guided Moonlight Canoe Trip
Saturday, May 5, 7 to 10 p.m. — Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Enjoy a moonlight canoe tour through the refuge interior, in the northernmost reaches of the Everglades. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants and bring a flashlight and bug spray. Fee: $10 per person. Canoe rental required; fee includes rental. Reservations: 561-733-0192

Birding in Brown Canyon
Saturday, May 5, 2 p.m. — Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
Join a naturalist on a discovery of spring birds of the Baboquivari Mountains and Brown Canyon.  Fee: $25

Spring Cleanup
Saturday, May 5, 9 a.m. to noon — William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Volunteers: Help make the Fiechter House and Cabell Barn sparkle for the annual Barns and Bluegrass Festival. All cleaning materials will be provided. Sign up: 541-757-7236 or sallie_gentry@fws.gov.

Full-Moon Hike
Sunday, May 6, 8 to 9:30 p.m. ─ Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Listen for owls and coyotes. Sign up: 360-887-3883

Travelers in the Sky
Tuesday, May 8, 7 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Learn about birds’ migratory journeys: their departure points, their spring destinations and the conservation challenges facing many migratory species.

International Migratory Bird Day
Join the National Wildlife Refuge System and nature lovers worldwide in celebrating the 20th annual International Migratory Bird Day. Here are some examples of IMBD events on refuges:

Thursday, May 10 to Sunday, May 13 — Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, AK
Enjoy the 20th annual Shorebird Festival, Alaska’s largest wildlife festival. See hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, representing more than 25 species from as far as Asia, Hawaii and South America that use sites around Kachemak Bay as feeding grounds during their spring migration. Activities include ornithology workshops, backyard birding presentations, field trips and boat tours. 

  • Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival

Thursday, May 10 to Saturday, May 12 — Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, VA
The three-day event features guided bird walks and bus tours, photography workshops, beginning birding classes, and more.

  • Wild Bird Exploration

Saturday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV
The event will include a mist netting demo and a live raptor presentation. Don’t forget your binoculars. Registration is required: 775-372-5435 or email Alyson_mack@fws.gov

  • International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 12, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Come out for bird walks, adult and kid art workshops, games, crafts and more. This year’s theme: 20 ways you can help preserve birds every day.

Friday, May 11 to Monday, May 14, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
The four-day festival includes bus and boat birding tours, hikes, arts and crafts, guest speakers and live animal presentations.

  • International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 12, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Learn about the red tail hawk, one of the most abundant and widespread hawks in Illinois. See a presentation of live hawks by Free Again Wildlife Rehab at 10:30 a.m. Beginner bird walks are family-friendly. Also enjoy making bird feeders and bird crafts throughout the day at the Pigeon Creek Education Center.

  • Go Wild, Go Birding

Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to noon — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Join refuge staff in a trek around the refuge, meant to simulate a bird’s migration. Free posters will be given to all participants.

  • International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to noon — Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Celebrate the migration of birds and their return to the Yakima Valley. Come identify, count and observe bird species throughout the morning.

Saturday, May 12, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL
The annual festival will feature guided canoe tours, bike trips, hikes, bird and eagle watching, and special presentations including live animal demonstrations. 

  • International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 12, 8 a.m. to noon — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join an experienced naturalist for a bird-watching field trip around the refuge.  See songbirds, waterfowl, waders, birds of prey and more. Bring binoculars and field guides.

  • International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 12, 8 a.m. — Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Join Red Rock Audubon Society for a morning of spectacular bird watching. More than 230 species of migratory birds use this sanctuary.

  • International Migratory Bird Day & Junior Duck Stamp Awards Celebration

Saturday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  ─ Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
Celebrate the return of the refuge’s migratory birds and the winners of the 2012 Utah Junior Duck Stamp Contest at an open house with crafts, games and more. Duck Stamp winners will be announced at 1 p.m.

  • Spring Bird Count

Saturday, May 12, 7 a.m. to noon — Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE
Learn about birds and their migratory threats. Take part in the international spring bird count. Each team will survey a section of the refuge.

  • International Migratory Bird Celebration

Saturday, May 12, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA
Enjoy a full day of birding, activities, live animal demonstrations and crafts. There is also a Sunday, May 13, birding-on-the-beach event at 7:30 a.m. See all events here.

Barns and Bluegrass
Saturday, May 12, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Enjoy a host of activities celebrating the refuge’s natural and cultural resources in an outstanding landscape.

Buyer Beware!
Saturday, May 12, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ─ Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Take a rare opportunity to tour the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository, a Fish and Wildlife Service facility at the refuge. See wildlife items that have been confiscated at U.S. ports and learn about the black market wildlife trade. Also learn about the Native American Eagle Feather Program. Reservations are required: 303-289-0930.

Discover Bats
Sunday, May 13, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Hear a biologist’s presentation on the important pollinators, the threats facing them and bat research taking place on the refuge.

Cache In Trash Out
Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Desert National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Learn the basics of GPS navigation at this environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community. Find hidden treasures with the help of your GPS unit and help clean up the desert along the way.

Naturalist Training
Saturday, May 19 to Sunday May 20 (overnight) — Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
Join Ravens-Way Wild Journeys for a fascinating two-day workshop aimed at improving your naturalist skills. Explore topics including bird-watching, botany, geology, Sky Islands ecology, astronomy, insects and invertebrates, and sensory awareness. Registration is required: 520-823-4251. Members $105; nonmembers $125.

Endangered Species Day
Sunday, May 20, 9 to 10:30 a.m. — San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Celebrate endangered species conservation with the refuge’s wildlife biologist at the Sweetwater Interpretive Loop.

The Nisqually Delta and Medicine Creek: Where Nature, Culture and History Converge
Sunday, May 20, 1 to 2:30 p.m. ─ Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, WA
On this historic tour, learn about the events surrounding the signing of the Medicine Creek Treaty, explore how the Nisqually people came to the Nisqually delta and how their lives changed with the settlement of Europeans.

Bike the Refuge
Sunday, May 20, 1 to 3 p.m.  ─ Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Join a 12-mile ranger-guided ride through new areas of the refuge. Reservations required: 303-289-0930.

Spring Historical Bus Tour
Sunday, May 20, noon to 2 p.m.  — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join a historian for a popular bus tour of refuge sites dating back to pre-European settlement, the War of Independence and World War II. Hear entertaining stories and anecdotes. Tickets are $9 per person, advance purchase only. Reserve a space: 978-835-4515.

Let’s Explore Bugs!
Saturday, May 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Join refuge biologists for an up-close and personal look into the amazing world of insects. Registration is required: 775-372-5435.

Capturing the Outdoors in Photographs
Saturday, May 26, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ─ Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Learn outdoor photo techniques and tips from photographer Greg Farley. Workshop participants will learn camera operations, then head outside to apply what they’ve learned. Bring your camera (film, DSLR, or point and shoot), extra batteries and a sense of adventure.

Campfire Program
Saturday, May 26, 7 p.m. — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Bring a chair and some marshmallows and join a park ranger at the Crab Orchard Campground for an educational program on Southern Illinois wildlife.

Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Festival
Saturday, May 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE
Celebrate horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds ─ both among the natural wonders of Delaware Bay. Enjoy crafts and boat rides.

Nature Yoga
Sunday, May 27, 10 to 11:30 a.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Enjoy the benefits of yoga outdoors with great views of the salt marsh. Through story and postures, learn what attracted people and wildlife to the bay. Bring a yoga mat. Reservations: 510-792-0222 ext. 363.

Salt Marsh Boat Ride
Thursday, May 31, 8 to 10:30 a.m.  — Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE
See the salt marsh grasses “greening up” for summer. Watch shorebirds probe mudflats for aquatic insects. Listen for the call of a rail. Dress for the weather and possible water spray. Register: 302-653-6872.


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