Seasons of Wildlife


Nature's calendar at the San Luis NWR Complex

  • Visit throughout the year!

    Numbers peak for geese, cranes, and ducks
    Wetlands fully flooded
    Foggy weather prevails
    Bald eagles often observed hunting on refuges
    Waterfowl hunting season ends

    Tule elk bulls shed antlers at the San Luis NWR
    Great-horned owls hatching
    Hawks exhibiting aerial courtship displays
    Large numbers of wintering waterfowl and cranes visible

    Waterfowl begin migrating north
    Vernal pool wildflowers begin blooming
    Hawks and herons nesting
    Tule elk bulls at the San Luis NWR sprouting new antlers covered in velvet
    Shorebird numbers building

    Songbirds are migrating
    Wildflowers are abundant around vernal pools
    Tule elk cows begin giving birth to calves at the San Luis NWR
    Seasonal wetlands are drained to allow waterbird food plants to grow
    Peak number of shorebirds

    Shorebirds are migrating in breeding plumage
    Songbirds are very vocal defending nesting territories
    Wildflowers still spectacular

    Tule elk antlers fully grown with velvet falling off
    Shorebirds migrate north
    Seasonal wetlands are dry
    Songbird and raptor fledglings are visible

    Tule elk breeding rut begins at the San Luis NWR
    Seasonal wetlands are irrigated to encourage waterbird food plants to thrive
    Fall shorebird migration begins

    Swainson's hawks have fledged and will form "kettles" over grasslands
    Irrigated pastures attract ibis and long-billed curlews
    Tule elk rut and bugling peaks

    The tule elk rut continues
    Sandhill cranes begin returning mid-month
    Songbirds and cinnamon teal migrate south
    Valley oaks drop their acorns

    Aleutian cackling geese arrive at the San Joaquin River NWR
    Waterfowl hunting season opens
    Tule elk still in harems and bachelor herds
    Crane Day at the Merced NWR

    Over 15,000 Sandhill cranes are in the Grasslands by Thanksgiving
    Ross’ and white-fronted geese arrive

    Snow geese begin to arrive at Merced NWR
    Swans may arrive in small numbers by month's end
    Watch for eagles, falcons, and ferruginous hawks
    Black-tailed deer can be spotted at the San Luis NWR throughout year, most often at the West Bear Creek Unit