National Wildlife Refuge System
Back to Index

December 2012 Events


A profusion of birds fill the sky above Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. On Sunday, December 2, a bird-watching field trip at the refuge will look at songbirds, waterfowl, waders and birds of prey.

Credit: USFWS

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Work off those Christmas-season calories by cutting your own tree at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, Rydell National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

  • Moosehorn Refuge lets visitors cut two balsam fir or pine trees per person, starting at the end of November. Without the public harvest, the trees would have to be cut to maintain road visibility. Pick up a free permit from the refuge office before you cut.
  • Rydell Refuge has set aside two days for tree cutting: Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Kenai Refuge lets visitors cut one tree by hand per family between Thanksgiving and Christmas. No fees or permits are required.

Holiday Nature Crafts
Saturday, December 1, 9 a.m. to noon — Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, MS 
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. 

Wildlife Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, December 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Shop for wild and not-so-wild new and gently used treasures at the National Wildlife Visitor Center. Find unique gifts and support the refuge and the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Make origami ornaments and hand-crafted cards. For more information:

Disabled Hunter Managed Deer Hunt
Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2, all day — Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Disabled hunters can use the refuge’s handicap-accessible deer blinds to bag a doe or buck. Volunteers are available to help as needed with finding deer, loading deer onto trucks, and bringing the animals back to the check stations. 

Bird Watching Field Trip
Sunday, December 2, 8 a.m. to noon — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Join a naturalist for a bird watching field trip around the refuge. See songbirds, waterfowl, waders, birds of prey and more. Bring binoculars and field guides. Meet at the visitor center.

Volunteer Recognition Ceremony
Tuesday, December 4, 7 p.m. — Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Join refuge staff in thanking all of the exceptional volunteers who have helped out over the year. There will be awards and food and drink.

Holiday Open House
Thursday, December 6, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Join staff from the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture in a holiday season celebration.

Holiday Howl
Saturday, December 8, 4 to 6 p.m. — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Give yourself a holiday treat and hear endangered red wolves in the wild. See a short video about the wolves and hear them howl.

Anniversary Open House
Saturday, December 8, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ─ Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD 
Help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the refuge. Contact 410-639-7056 or for more information.

Christmas on Chesser Island
Saturday, December 8, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. — Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA
Celebrate the holiday season at the Chesser Island Homestead with a hayride, luminaries, caroling and live music. Tour a swamp homestead adorned with traditional homemade decorations.

Fall Birding Tour
Saturday, December 8, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. — St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Go birding on the refuge. Experienced and novice birders are welcome.

Bobcat F.U.N.
Saturday, December 8, 10:30 to noon — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Bobcats are abundant and frequently seen on the refuge. Come learn about the lives of these small wild cats. There will be a live bobcat presentation and fun activities at the visitor center.

Lecture Series
Tuesday, December 11, 7 p.m. — Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, ID
Hear a speaker from the National Interagency Fire Center talk about the 2012 fire season and give an update on Boo-Boo, the bear cub.

Sparrows of North Texas
Friday, December 14, 10 a.m. to noon — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Learn to identify Texas sparrows.

Christmas Bird Count
Friday, December 14 to Saturday, January 5, 2013
Scores of refuges will take part in the National Audubon Society’s 113th annual holiday season bird count, one of the country’s longest-running citizen science projects. Data collected show trends of bird populations across North America. Join tens of thousands of volunteers in counting birds and furthering bird conservation. To find a bird count near you, check the right-hand side of this page starting in mid-November. Some participating refuges and event dates include:

  • Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MO − Saturday, December 15, 8 a.m. ­to 3 p.m.
  • Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD − Sunday, December 16, all day  
    Counting teams will cover about a third of Kent County on this day, including the refuge. Registration is required: 410-778-9568. 
  • Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL − Monday, December 17, 6 a.m. to sunset ­
    For more information, call 618-634-2231.
  • Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC − Saturday, December 22, all day 
  • Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX − Thursday, December 27, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Birdwatchers of all levels are welcome. Meet at the Valero Gas station at the intersection of Hwy 105 and Hwy 321, about 6 miles southeast of Cleveland. Some folks will bird the “bottoms” so bring a sack lunch, rubber knee boots and other appropriate outdoor clothing. A wrap-up dinner will be held at the Plantation restaurant in Cleveland. For more information: at 936-336-9786.

Dragonflies as Environmental Sentinels
Saturday, December 15, 10 a.m. – Daybreak Bakery, 241 Main Street, Old Town Rockland, ME
The dragonflies of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Maine may be able to tell us how mercury, a toxin, moves up food chains.

Take a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride in Elk Country  
Monday, December 17 through Saturday, April 6, 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

Palmetto Pro Birder Modules
Saturday, December 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, December 30, 7 a.m. to noon — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC
Learn to identify the birds in your backyard and elsewhere in South Carolina. Find out how you can act as a citizen scientist to help save the birds and their habitats. Become a certified Palmetto Pro Birder. Cost: $150. Register: 803-256-0670 or

Back to Index

Last updated: November 5, 2012