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Montezuma
National Wildlife Refuge


3395 Route 5/20 East
Seneca Falls, NY   13148 - 9778
E-mail: andrea_vanbeusichem@fws.gov
Phone Number: 315-568-5987
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
http://www.fws.gov/refuge/montezuma/
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  Wildlife and Habitat

Continued . . .

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge provides habitats for an abundance of wildlife species. Sixteen species of amphibians, fifteen species of reptiles, forty-three species of mammals, and two hundred forty-two species of birds have either been recorded or can reasonably be expected to be present on the refuge for at least a portion of the year. The wide array of both resident and migratory species found on the refuge is due to the varied habitat types found in the marsh/upland complex. The mix of wooded wetlands, emergent marsh, and mixed successional stages of vegetation on the upland areas all contribute to the species diversity of the wildlife community found at Montezuma.

The unique value of the refuge's habitats was officially recognized when Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and the larger Montezuma Wetlands Complex were dedicated as New York State's first Important Bird Area (IBA) and a Globally Important Bird Area.

Montezuma plays a significant role in the Atlantic Flyway as a major staging, feeding and resting area for large numbers of migratory birds. An estimated one million birds pass through the Montezuma Wetlands Complex each year. In addition to waterfowl, numerous species of shorebirds, wading birds and neotropical migrants also depend on Montezuma's habitats.

Waterfowl A large proportion of the mid-Atlantic population of Canada geese utilizes Montezuma and the central Finger Lakes area during spring and fall migrations. Fall peaks of Canada geese routinely exceed 50,000 birds; in spring this number has exceeded 100,000. Approximately 15,000 snow geese use the refuge during spring migration. Tundra swans have often exceeded 400 in number during both spring and fall migrations. Late fall use by mallards has approached 100,000 birds. Use by American black ducks in the fall often exceeds 25,000.

Wood duck, gadwall, green-winged teal, American wigeon, northern pintail, northern shoveler, and blue-winged teal comprise the bulk of other dabbling duck species using the refuge during migration. Diving duck species that stop at Montezuma during migration include canvasback, redhead, ring-necked duck, and lesser scaup. Smaller numbers of bufflehead, ruddy duck, and common and hooded mergansers also utilize wetland habitats at the refuge during migration.

Overwintering of Canada geese in the Cayuga Lake Basin continued the trend of the last two decades. The numbers of geese staying in upstate New York has skyrocketed since the early 1970's. From overwintering populations of several hundred to a few thousand, current numbers annually exceed 100,000.

Marsh and Water Birds Several species of marsh and water birds may be found on refuge pools during the course of the year. The refuge's shallow pools, fringed by emergent vegetation, attract an abundance of great blue herons, green-backed herons, great egrets, black-crowned night-herons, Virginia rails, soras, American and least bitterns, common moorhens, and pied-billed grebes.

Several great blue herons nest on Maple Island in the Main Pool. The nests are located in live trees, and the dense leaf cover obscures the majority of the nests throughout the breeding season, making it impossible to determine how many of these nests were active and fledged young during the breeding season. Other marsh and water birds observed nesting on the refuge include black-crowned night herons, Virginia rail, sora, green-backed heron, pied-billed grebe, common moorhen, American coot, and American bittern.

Shorebirds Killdeer, spotted sandpiper, American woodcock, and common snipe are the only shorebird species that are common breeders on the refuge, although many other species are commonly observed during migration.

Mudflat and shallow water habitats at May's Point Pool and Benning Marsh during the late summer/early fall season provide excellent foraging habitat for migrant shorebirds. Virtually every species of shorebird that migrates through central New York was represented and recorded during the late summer and fall on May's Point Pool and Benning Marsh. Over twenty species of shorebirds were recorded on the two units. Rarer species observed included: Hudsonian godwit, western sandpiper, stilt sandpiper, Baird's sandpiper, buff-breasted sandpiper, American golden plover, black-bellied plover, and both red and Wilson's phalarope. Peregrine falcons and merlins were also observed on the pools, obviously attracted by the abundance of shorebirds. Montezuma has certainly become one of the most critical inland migratory stopover points for shorebirds in the eastern United States.

Black terns (a state listed endangered species) have recently returned to nesting in the wetlands of Montezuma. In the 1950's, the refuge saw peak black tern populations of 2,500 individuals. It is estimated that 500 young were produced in 1958. In the years that followed, black tern numbers declined to the point where no black tern nest were found on the refuge between 1987 and 1993. The decline is believed to be related to the invasion of purple loosestrife. Black terns nest in small loose colonies using floating masses of dead vegetation for nest sites. Purple loosestrife "chokes out" areas where a mix of emergent vegetation and open water once existed, creating monotypic stands of dense vegetation with low wildlife value. Additionally, dead stalks of purple loosestrife are rigid and resistant to decay, leaving no floating matter for use as nesting material.

It is of interest to note that the mix of shorebird species migrating through central New York is quite different from what is observed along the Atlantic Coast. Lesser yellowlegs, pectoral sandpipers, and Baird's sandpipers are much more common at Montezuma than at coastal resting areas. This is indicative of the extreme importance of Montezuma as a stopover site for birds that take an interior route on the southward migration.

Bald Eagles Prior to the 1950's New York State had upwards of 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles. A combination of events led to only one known active bald eagle nest in the entire state by 1960. This last nesting pair, like many of the others which had existed in the state, suffered from an accumulation of pesticides (primarily DDT) in their body tissues. This accumulation inhibited successful egg laying and consequently the production of young eagles. Other factors contributing to the decline of the birds in New York and elsewhere included the loss of necessary habitat and the illegal killing of the birds.

The drastic decline in numbers led the federal government to declare the bald eagle to be endangered in the lower 48 states, except for the states of Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan where the bird is listed as threatened.

Due to the protection afforded by the Bald Eagle Act of 1940 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the efforts made toward cleaning up the environment, the outlook for bald eagles is more promising than it has been in several decades. In the mid-1970's New York launched the most comprehensive bald eagle restoration program in the nation. This program was designed to return breeding bald eagles to all portions of the state still suitable for their existence. In 1976, a program designed to reestablish nesting bald eagles in New York was undertaken at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The program involved the use of a falconry technique called "hacking" to release young bald eagles to the wild. The Montezuma program in 1976 was the first of it's kind on the North American continent.

In the hacking process, immature bald eagles were placed in artificial nests on a caged platform atop a high tower. The birds were fed carp and small mammals until they were ready to fly. The feeding was done carefully so that the young birds would not associate people with food or lose their fear of humans.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was chosen as the site for the release program because of its central location, large amounts of suitable habitat, abundance of prey species, and limited disturbances. In addition, Montezuma was formerly an active bald eagle nesting site as late as 1959, with young last successfully produced in 1956.

From 1976 to 1980 a total of 23 bald eagles were released at the refuge through the hacking program. The birds were obtained from wild nests in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and from the captive breeding stock at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Research Laboratory in Patuxent, Maryland. The project demonstrated that young bald eagles can be reared in man-made situations and still learn to hunt, feed, and survive on their own. The program attained its greatest success in the spring of 1980 when the first two eagles released in the program (1976) successfully nested in northern New York. In 1981, the hacking project was expanded and relocated to the Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area in western New York. The hacking program concluded in 1989 when the program's goals of re-establishing ten nesting pair was achieved.

During early July of 1987 a local farmer reported seeing a large nest in an isolated location on the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Field inspection of the site disclosed not only the nest but the presence of two nearly grown eaglets. The young eagles were approximately 11 weeks old and only days away from being ready to fledge (leave the nest for the first time). The two young birds were the first to be produced at Montezuma in over 30 years.

An additional surprise came when a trio, rather than a pair, of eagles was observed tending to the young. These three adult eagles (a white-tagged male released in 1978 from Montezuma, an unmarked female bird, and a yellow-tagged male bird released in 1982 from the Oak Orchard hacking site) had frequented the same areas of the refuge since 1986.

A nest site examination, completed after the eaglets fledged, revealed that the tree supporting the nest was in very poor condition. The tree was a dead elm and the nest was precariously perched 50 feet up on an overhanging branch. The location of the nest and the deteriorated condition of the tree made it virtually certain that the nest would fall during winter storms or, worse yet, during the spring when eggs or young were in the nest.

In late December, the refuge staff joined forces with the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to stabilize the bald eagle nest. A 75-foot utility pole was installed next to the nest tree by means of a large, tracked Bombardier pole-setting machine. A "cradle" was positioned and bolted into place just under the nest. Working at the top of the pole, the utility's linemen cut the supporting limbs and secured the nest to the new platform.

The trio of eagles produced one young from the pole nest before moving to a second nest located in a dead snag in Tschache Pool. From 1990 to 1994, the trio produced 7 young from this nest (nest #2). A severe wind storm blew nest#2 down on November 1, 1994. By the spring of 1995, nest #3 was constructed in a live cottonwood tree adjacent to Tschache Pool. Nine young were produced from nest #3 (1995-1998). The Labor Day storm of 1998 blew down nest #3. In a nearby tree, nest #4 was constructed. The birds abandoned their nesting attempt in 1999. The trio was not observed at nest #4 during the 2000 nesting season. In September 2000, the trio's new nest site (nest #5) was located in a tree south of Armitage Road. Only time will tell how long the trio will stay put at this site.

In addition to the trio, other bald eagles have used Montezuma. In 1992, a fourth adult bald eagle was observed throughout the year at Tschache Pool. The following nesting season (1993), the fourth eagle began forming a pair bond with a fifth bald eagle. Although the fifth bird was a sub-adult and not reproductively mature, this pair of eagles constructed a nest in the south end of Tschache Pool. For the first time in the history of the refuge, two nests of bald eagles produced young during the 1994 nesting season.

Montezuma's pair of bald eagles used their initial nest from 1994 through 1998, producing a total of 8 young. This nest was located in the southern end of Tschache Pool in a dead tree. This nest provided visitors excellent viewing opportunities. The Labor Day storm of 1998 also blew this tree down. It should be noted that the loss of this nest tree, in particular, was actually a blessing. The integrity of the nest tree had long been a concern. Losing the tree when young where in the nest would have been much worse than losing the nest in September.

The pair took up housekeeping in the tree line just east of Tschache Pool. They continue to use this nest (it is much easier to track and write about the pair than the trio).

Bald Eagle Facts:

* Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus.

* Our nation's symbol.

* Only species of eagle unique to the North American continent.

* One of the largest birds of prey in North America. Males: 3 feet from head to tail; weigh 8 to 10 lbs; wingspan about 6 1/2 feet. Females: slightly larger than males - 3 1/2 feet from head to tail; weigh 10 to 14 lbs; wingspan up to 8 feet.

* Live for 25 - 35 years in the wild.

* Usually mate for life (If one dies, the other will seek a new mate).

* White head and tail feathers are characteristics of adults.

* Mature at 4-5 years of age (reproductive maturity).

* Immature eagles lack the white head and tail. Mostly chocolate brown with varying amounts of white on the body, tail, and underwings.

* Nests: large stick structures, usually high in large trees near water. Nests are reused and added to each year. The nests are 5-6 feet wide by 3-4 feet tall. Eagles nest once a year. 1-3 eggs are laid, with 35 days of incubation. Birds fledge (leave the nest for the first time) at 10 to 12 weeks.

* Food: fish, carrion (dead animals), mammals, snakes and other birds.

A Brief History of Bald Eagles at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

- Bald eagles were observed using the area and attempting to nest during the ten-year period of 1950-59.

- Young were produced twice between 1950 -59 (2 in 1955 and 1 in 1956).

- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began the Bald Eagle Hacking Program at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in 1976. This program was the first of its kind on the North American Continent (the only continent where bald eagles occur).

- A total of 23 bald eagles were released at the Refuge between 1976 and 1980.

- Three bald eagles (2 males and a female) were observed on the Refuge during 1986. The two males were identified as "hacked" birds because of visible wing tags. One male was released from Montezuma in 1978 and the other was released from the Oak Orchard hack site in 1982. The female did not have any visible tags.

- In 1987 the three bald eagles (now referred to as the trio) produced young, the first bald eagles to hatch at Montezuma since 1956.

- A fourth bald eagle was observed on the Refuge throughout 1992.

- The fourth bird began forming a "pair bond" with a fifth bald eagle in 1993. Although the fifth bird was a sub-adult (4 years old) and not reproductively mature, this pair began construction of a nest in 1993.

- For the first time in the history of the Refuge, two nests of bald eagles produced young during the 1994 nesting season.

- In 1995 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service upgraded the bald eagle's status from endangered to threatened in all of the lower 48 states, except in the Southwestern Recovery Region (primarily New Mexico and Arizona) where its status remains endangered.

- The Labor Day Storm of 1998 blew down both eagle nest trees. During the winter, two new nests were constructed on the eastern edge of Tschache Pool. Although the pair of eagles successfully hatched young in 1999, the trio abandoned its nesting attempt. It is believed the two nests were too close (1/4 mile) and there was too much conflict between the groups. In September of 2000, the trio's latest nest site was located south of Armitage Road. The future nesting of eagles at Montezuma will continue to be very interesting.

- Several immature bald eagles are regularly spotted around the refuge. The Main Pool Observation Tower Area has been a popular spot for observing immature eagles. When mature, will these birds nest in the Main Pool area? Only time will tell. The return of bald eagles to the skies of the United States is an Endangered Species Act success story. Continued public interest and protection of habitat will ensure a bright future for our national symbol. Osprey The history of osprey using the refuge is as interesting and confusing to write as the history of bald eagle using the refuge. According to the 1974 annual refuge narrative, an osprey was first noted using the refuge in 1974. Annual observations of an osprey continued through 1978. The 1979 narrative states "a peak population of 3 osprey were observed and there was a false nesting attempt on Tschache Pool."

"The first recorded successful osprey nest in central New York in over one hundred years" was reported in the 1980 annual narrative. That nest was on Tschache Pool and fledged 2 young. In 1981, osprey again successfully nested on Tschache Pool, producing 3 young. That nest was blown down in the winter.

Attempts to construct a nest in a snag in Tschache Pool during the 1982 nesting season were unsuccessful as the nest repeatedly fell apart. Using the same snag, osprey were able to get a nest together long enough to produce 1 young in 1983. That nest blew down in mid-fall. Again, the birds constructed a nest in the same snag in Tschache Pool for the 1984 season and successfully fledged 3 young. A second pair of osprey appeared during the 1985 nesting season, but both were unsuccessful. One pair lost its nest in June and the second pair were sub-adults. Bad luck for osprey continued in 1986 with no young being produced. Two young were raised in a nest on Tschahce Pool during the 1987 season.

The Main Pool nesting platform was constructed in the winter of 1987-88. Osprey began using the platform in 1988, producing 2 young. This was probably a very good move, as their Tschache Pool nest was taken over by bald eagles in 1988. A single osprey was fledged from the Main Pool platform in 1989, and 2 young fledged during the 1990 nesting season. No young fledged from the platform in 1991 (raccoon predation was suspected). Tin flashing was installed around the platform post during that winter.

Two pairs of osprey produced young during the 1992 nesting season. The Main Pool nest produced 3 young, and the new nest site, Mud Lock, produced a single chick. A total of 4 young (2 in each nest) fledged from the Main Pool nest and the Mud Lock nest. That winter, a nesting platform was constructed at North Spring Pool.

A third pair began using the area in 1994. That site was located on a utility pole in the muck fields north of the refuge boundary. The Muck nest successfully fledged young (number unknown). The Main Pool nest was abandoned (eggs in the nest), the Mud Lock nest produced 2 young. The same three nests were used in 1995. The Main Pool nest hatched 2 young that were blown out of the nest in June while the Mud Lock nest produced 2 young and the Muck nest again produced an unknown number of young. The three sites produced an unknown number of young in 1996. In 1997 the number of osprey nests using the Montezuma Area (refuge and adjacent areas) jumped to 7, producing 11 young, including 1 on the Main Pool Platform. The seven nests were again active in 1998. Total number of young produced was unknown, but the Main Pool birds fledged 3 young.

Two new nests appeared in 1999. One was atop a high voltage power line transmission tower (a.k.a. the Simone nest) and the other was built on a telephone pole nesting platform that had been constructed on Tschache pool for bald eagle use. The Main Pool nest produced 2 young that year. Nests on Main Pool, Tschache Pool and Mud Lock produced a total of 11 young. Other Birds of Prey

Red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels, northern harriers, eastern screech owls, and great-horned owls are breeders on the refuge. Seasonal visitors include snowy owls, rough-legged hawks, peregrine falcons, merlins, turkey vultures, cooper's hawks and sharp-shinned hawks.

Other Birds

In addition to the birds already mentioned, the refuge provides habitat for numerous other birds. The refuge has been involved with a MAPS banding station since 1999. The next 2 pages provide information of the MAPS program.

MONTEZUMA WETLANDS COMPLEX AND MAPS 2002

It is increasingly apparent that landbird (songbird) populations are facing a growing number of environmental threats. Habitat loss, climatic changes, loss of ozone, and toxic pollution are just a few of the major threats that these populations must continually face. Studies have shown that monitoring landbird populations over a long period of time is helpful in predicting changes in populations as well as the factors that contribute to these changes. Monitoring programs are essential to reversing declines in North American landbird populations.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is part of a National banding program consisting of public agencies, private organizations, and bird banders of the United States and Canada to monitor landbird populations. This program, called Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS), was initiated in 1989 by the Institute for Bird Populations to operate a continent-wide network of constant-effort mist-netting stations to capture and band landbirds during the breeding season. There are over 500 stations across North America that participate in the MAPS program. The major objective of the MAPS program is to contribute to the avian population monitoring system for North American landbird species by providing the data necessary to estimate adult population size, post-fledging productivity, adult survivorship, and recruitment into the adult population.

At each MAPS station, ten, 12-meter mist nets are set up once every 10 day period for a duration of six hours. The mist nets are 30-mm nylon mesh which is difficult for birds to see. They fly into the nets and get tangled in one of the four tiers. Birds are extracted from the nets every 30-40 minutes and brought back to the banding station. At the banding station, the birds are banded and a series of data is collected on each bird. Information such as age, sex, how aged and sexed, skull pneumatization, cloacal protuberance and brood patch status, body molt, fat, flight feather molt, flight feather wear, wing cord, weight, date, capture time, and net number are all taken on each bird and recorded on a data sheet. Birds are then released from the banding station. Precautions are taken to ensure the safety and health of each bird.

MAPS is an important program that aids biologists in preserving landbird species. In addition, it is a great learning experience for all involved. Montezuma is looking forward to another season of banding that will begin in June 2003.

Check the refuge bird list for details on species, frequency and breeding status on the refuge.

Other Wildlife on the Refuge The following list provides information on mammals that are found on the refuge.

Marsupials - primitive animals that bear their young prematurely then shelter them in the mother's pouch (the marsupium) until they are fully developed. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America. They are mostly nocturnal. Slightly larger than a house cat, the opossum is found in upland habitats and eats carrion (dead animals), but it also eats frogs, birds, fruits, other mammals, eggs and insects. Identified by their pointed nose, white face, course rat-like tail and coarse fur.

Moles - spend much of their life underground. Moles are small mammals with tiny eyes(if any at all), strong front feet, and powerful claws for digging. Signs include low ridges on the surface of the ground caused by their tunneling activities. Two moles are found in this area: the starnose mole and the hairytail mole.

Starnose moles are identified by the unique star-shaped fleshy projections around the nose. These projections are sensitive feelers, aiding the starnose mole in locating prey as they have poor eyesight. They prefer moist soils and are known to be excellent swimmers. The diet of the starnose mole consists of aquatic insects and earthworms.

Hairytail moles are similar to starnose moles, but they lack the fleshy projections around the nose and they prefer drier sandy soils.

Shrews - small (mouse sized) fierce mammals that have 5 toes on each foot. They typically prefer areas with moist soils. Shrews' diet consists mostly of insects and earthworms, although they will also kill and eat other mammals twice their size. Common shrews in this area are the masked shrew and the shorttail shrew.

Masked shrews have grayish brown fur and a long tail. They prefer moist areas of forest, meadows and brushlots.

Shorttail shrews are lead colored, have a noticeably short tail and tiny eyes that are barely visible. They are found throughout the refuge.

Bats - the only mammals capable of true flight. A membrane of skin that extends between the bones of the hand to the forearm, continuing along the side of the body to the hind leg. Most bats also have a membrane connecting their hind legs. These nocturnal animals mostly eat insects. As a substitute for poor eyesight, bats use echolocation to permit them to fly in darkness. They emit high-pitched sounds that bounce off objects and echo back to the large sensitive ears of bats. The following list is based mostly on reported range and can probably all be found at Montezuma:

Little Brown Myotis (Little brown bat) - known to be common near the Visitor Center Big Brown Bat - known to be found on the refuge Red Bat Keen Myotis Small-footed Myotis Silver-haired bat Eastern pipistrelle Hoary Bat

Rabbits - Cottontails are the only rabbits found in this area. This common mammal is known for their long ears, long hind legs and a short cottony tail. The preferred habitat of the cottontail rabbit includes areas with heavy brush, stripes of forests with open areas nearby, edges of swamps and weed patches. Cottontails are mostly active from early evening to late morning. They burrow in the ground or beneath brush piles. In the summer, cottontails feed on green vegetation and in the winter bark and twigs.

Rodents - small to medium sized mammals that have 4 prominent incisors used for gnawing. Rodents found at Montezuma include the eastern chipmunk, woodchuck, eastern gray squirrel, red squirrel, northern and southern flying squirrels, beaver, muskrat, deer mouse, white-footed mouse, meadow vole, Norway rat, house mouse, meadow jumping mouse, woodland jumping mouse.

Eastern chipmunks are ground lovers that can be found throughout the drier brushy or wooded areas of the refuge. They have striped backs and checks. They eat seeds, nuts, fruits. and an occasional insect. Woodchucks are commonly found in open woods, bushy and rocky ravines. They are active mostly in the daytime. They feed on tender succulent plants. Woodchucks den in extensive burrows with 2 or more openings. Burrows may be 4 to 5 feet deep and 25 to 30 feet long. From October to February the woodchuck hibernates. Woodchucks are stocky animals with short dark brown or black legs.

Eastern gray squirrels are usually grayish in color with a bushy tail. Found in areas where there are mast-producing trees. Trees are used for dens or the construction of leaf nests. Their diet consists of nuts, seeds, fungi, fruit, and the inner bark of trees.

Red Squirrels - are much smaller than gray squirrels. The red squirrel's diet consists of seeds, nuts, eggs, and fungi. They are quite common in coniferous woods where they feed on nuts found in pine cones. A good sign of their presence is a midden pile (collection of scales from pine cones and the stripped core of cones). Esker Brook Trail is a great location to find red squirrels. They usually greet people with noisy chatter from the treetops.

Flying squirrels - are strictly nocturnal and seldom seen. They don't actually fly, but glide using the flaps of skin that run along the sides of their body. Flying squirrels prefer wooded areas where they make nests in cavities, nest boxes or nests constructed of tree bark, twigs and leaves. They feed on seeds, nuts, fruits, and bird eggs.

Beaver - North America's largest member of the rodent family. Chocolate colored fur, large incisors and a large flat tail are the key characteristics. Beavers mate for life and are mostly nocturnal. They build large log and mud dams and lodges. The beaver consumes bark of deciduous trees and is particularly fond of swamp white oak and birch.

Muskrats - Much smaller than beavers a (size of a house cat), muskrats have long rat-like tails. They can be frequently seen swimming in the water or feeding on plants next to water. Muskrat houses are made of mud, cattail and other marsh plants. Their feeding and material gathering for the construction of houses creates opening in marsh vegetation that are important for other wildlife such as black terns, Canada geese and great blue herons. The diets of muskrats include cattails, bulrushes, pondweeds and water lilies.

Deer Mice and white-footed mice - small white-bellied, white-footed brown mice that are very similar in appearance. They feed on seeds, nuts, acorns, and insects. Found in a variety of dry habitats.

Meadow Vole - This small grassland mammal is famous for making runways through matted grass. Feeds on seeds and grasses. These small rodents have small ears, small black eyes and a relatively short tail. Their fur is brown and fairly long.

Norway Rat - Known as the house rat or brown rat, this rodent is identified by its grayish-brown color and long scaly tail. The Norway rat eats fruits, grain, vegetables, carrion, fresh meat and garbage.

Coyote - The size of a medium-sized dog, Coyotes are fairly common, but rarely seen. Fur color varies greatly. When running, coyotes hold their tails between their hind legs. They are omnivorous, feeding on carrion, small mammals and vegetation.

Red Fox and Gray Fox - Both are smaller than the coyote. They eat a considerable amount of plant material, especially fruits and berries. Unlike the coyote, they hold their tail straight out when running. Red foxes have black legs and feet despite having fur that may be red, gray or black. The best characteristic for identifying the red fox is the white- tipped tail. They are commonly observed near the office, Visitor Center field and along the Wildlife Drive.

The more secretive gray fox is primarily nocturnal. The fur of the gray fox is mottled gray or brownish gray. Its tail is black-tipped. The gray fox is North America's only canid that is known to climb trees to escape danger.

Raccoon - Identified by the black mask and ringed tail. They feed on fruits, seeds,grasses, eggs, insects, and frogs.

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