National Wildlife Refuge Week 2015 Highlights

National Wildlife Refuge Week, celebrated annually during the second full week of October, is a perfect time to discover the world-class recreation and conservation accomplishments of national wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges welcome thousands of visitors to the scores of special events and festivals held throughout October.

Check the special events calendar for Refuge Week events. Among events planned:


Saturday, October 10


Snow geese take flight at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM.
Credit: Marvin De Jong

Log Cabin Day Festival, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, southern IN
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Enjoy a festival at Myers Cabin, sponsored by Muscatatuck Wildlife Society, featuring a free ham-and-bean dinner, old-time crafts, music, wildlife exhibits and children's activities. From Sunday through the following Saturday, a normally “closed” area of the refuge will be open to walk-in visitors for bird viewing.

5K Run/Walk for Wildlife, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Mayville, WI
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Celebrate Refuge Week with a race on the auto tour route. Register at 9 a.m. Event starts at 10 a.m. Pre-register at http://www.fonddulacrunningclub.com. Horicon Marsh Friends Family Road Rally (scavenger hunt) and other activities will follow the morning run/walk.

Refuge Week Festival, Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, WV
Noon to 6 p.m.
Celebrate the refuge's 25th birthday and National Wildlife Refuge Week at a festival featuring dozens of presenters, exhibits, games and activities. Enjoy a tour on the Valley Gem Sternwheeler around Buckley Island.

Refuge Week Celebration and Fun Run, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Start your day with a 3.2-mile fun run or one-mile “circle of life” walk. Then cheer the beauty and diversity of wild places at a bird-focused celebration. Build a birdhouse, see a live animal presentation or try your luck at the Hooligan Heron’s Habitat Hunt. Lots of family-friendly activities will be available for birders and wildlife lovers of all ages. More info: 757-336-6122


There will be fishing, Steamboat Bertrand displays and a waterfowl
tour at DeSoto Refuge, IA.
Credit: USFWS

Kick Off the Fall Migration DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley, IA
Events to celebrate Refuge Week and early fall migration include:

  • Last Chance Fishing Clinic: 10 a.m. to noon, South Gate Recreation Area. Rods and bait are provided. Nebraska and Iowa residents age 16 and older must have a fishing license.
  • Refuge waterfowl tour: 11 a.m. Spot wildlife related to migratory bird habitat restoration. Meet at the visitor center.
  • Steamboat Bertrand Museum Collection talk: 1 p.m. The talk at the visitor center will be followed by a car caravan to the Bertrand Discovery Site to learn about excavation of the steamboat, preservation of its artifacts, and restoration and management of wildlife habitats.
  • Waterfowl spotting station: Check visitor center for time and location

HawkWatch
The Marquette, IA, unit of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge will host HawkWatch events. These include capturing and banding raptors and waterfowl, live raptor presentations and kids’ activities.

BioBlitz, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Northwest MO
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Help refuge staff and local biologists inventory all species of refuge plants and wildlife during this one-day count. Please call to register: 660-442-3787 ext. 4    

The Big Sit!
Volunteers (and anyone who wants to take part) count and report bird species seen or heard within 24 hours from a 17-foot-diameter circle. Refuges participating include:


Sunday, October 11

Kick Off the Fall Migration
DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley, IA
Admission is free today. Events to celebrate Refuge Week and early fall migration include:

  • Bird walk for beginners: 8 a.m. Walk about one mile.
  • Family-friendly wildlife-related activities at the visitor center: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Refuge waterfowl tour: 11 a.m. Spot wildlife related to migratory bird habitat restoration on the refuge. Meet at the visitor center.
  • Steamboat Bertrand Museum Collection talk: 1 p.m. The talk at the visitor center will be followed by a car caravan to the Bertrand Discovery Site to learn about excavation of the steamboat, preservation of its artifacts, and restoration and management of wildlife habitats.
  • Waterfowl spotting station: Check visitor center for time and location

The Big Sit!
Volunteers (and anyone who wants to take part) count and report bird species seen or heard within 24 hours from a 17-foot-diameter circle. Refuges participating include:


Saturday, October 17

Halloween Adventure, Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND
5:30 to 8 p.m.
Dress in costume and enjoy a family trick-or-treat on the nature trail and a Halloween tram ride along the scenic shore of Lake Audubon, all in honor of Refuge Week. Tram rides are scheduled for 5:45, 6:30 and 7:15 p.m. No pre-registration is required.

Open House, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, on NC/VA border
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Enjoy family friendly refuge tours, guided walks, workshops and exhibits. Try your hand at archery.

Wildlife Festival, Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
National Wildlife Visitor Center. Free. Enjoy live animals, children’s crafts, tram tours, scientific demonstrations and behind-the-scenes tours of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on the refuge’s central tract, normally closed to the public. See where endangered whooping cranes and sea ducks are raised and studied.

Family Day with Wildlife, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, northwest MO
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Take part in outdoor activities and learn more about the refuge. Participants will have the opportunity to canoe in in a wetland, sharpen fishing skills, handle frogs and snakes, and test out the tools biologist use every day.  


Sunday, October 18

Ding Darling Days, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, FL
Sunday, October 18 - Saturday, October 24
A week-long celebration in honor of National Wildlife Refuge Week features live animals, tram tours, sea life cruises, kayak tours, nature talks and more.

Self-guided tours, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Marion, IL
1 to 4 p.m.
In honor of Refuge Week, enjoy a self-guided tour of a normally restricted portion of the refuge. Tours begin at the Wolf Creek Causeway.

Butterfly Count, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty, TX
9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Together with the Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas, the refuge will host the 17th annual Trinity River Butterfly Count in northern Liberty County. Areas to be counted include the refuge, Tarkington Prairie, and Gaylor Lake area. Meet at 9 a.m. a.m. at the Valero Gas station at the intersection of Hwys 105 and 321, six miles south of Cleveland.


Saturday, October 24

River Paddle Ride, Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, MO
8 a.m. to noon
Enjoy a guided paddle ride down the Mingo River. Bring your own canoe or kayak or borrow one of a limited number available. Pre-registration is required: 573-222-3589, peter_rea@fws.gov


St. Marks Refuge, FL, hosts a monarch festival each October.
Credit: Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS

Monarch Butterfly Festival, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Panhandle of FL
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The festival, which always follows Refuge Week, aims to build awareness of the shrinking habitat for monarch butterflies and the need to grow more native pollinator nectar plants. Events will take place at the refuge visitor center, the lighthouse and the pollinator garden. A new milkweed propagation project will be on display.

Kick Off the Fall Migration
Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, NE 10 a.m.
Take a guided nature hike. Meet at the main parking area.


Sunday, October 25

Self-guided tours, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Marion, IL
1 to 4 p.m.
In honor of Refuge Week, enjoy a self-guided tour of a normally restricted portion of the refuge. Tours begin at the Wolf Creek Causeway.