National Wildlife Refuge System
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October 2012 Events

profusion of birds

A profusion of birds fills the sky over Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. Santee Refuge in South Carolina, with a bird walk on October 20, is one of many refuges that have planned free public events around the dramatic fall migration.

Credit: Mary Konchar

Annual Photo Contest
Monday, October 1 – Wednesday October 31 — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Submit your nature photo entries by the end of October. Categories include: scenic, wildlife, plants and youth. See details and entry forms ( Awards will be made in November.


Sandhill Crane Tour
Saturday, October 6, 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. — Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN
See hundreds of cranes fly overhead as they leave roost sites on refuge pools. The free tour will take place rain or shine. Meet at refuge headquarters on CR 9, 5.5 miles west of Hwy. 169. Bring binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras. Pre-register: 763-389-3323 ext. 13, or email Leave your name, number of participants and a telephone number.


Family Fun Day
Saturday, October 6, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, MS
Come out for a fun, free, family-friendly celebration that will feature many exhibits, demonstrations, children’s activities, music and photo contest awards.


Palmetto Pro Birder Modules
Saturday, October 6, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, October 7, 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 birds and their habitats. Become a certified Palmetto Pro Birder. Cost: $150. Register: 803-256-0670 or


Youth Deer Hunt
Saturday, October 6, all day — Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD 
Apply for a hunt permit here or call 410-639-7056.  


Waterfowl ID
Saturday, October 6, 9 to 11 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Fall migration brings an amazing abundance of waterfowl to the refuge lakes. A naturalist will help you identify these winged visitors. Then take a trip to the lake and try your skills.


Butterfly Count
Sunday, October 7, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Join the 13th annual Trinity River Butterfly Count. Areas to be counted include the refuge, Tarkington Prairie and Gaylor Lake area. Meet at the Valero Gas station at the intersection of Hwys 105 and 321, six miles south of Cleveland. Some folks will butterfly the “bottoms” so bring a sack lunch, rubber knee boots and other appropriate outdoor clothing. Butterfly enthusiasts of all levels are welcome. 


Bluebird Presentation
Sunday, October 7, 2 to 4 p.m. — St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Learn how to attract eastern bluebirds to your backyard.


Monarch Madness
Monday, October 8, 9 a.m. to noon — Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA
Help collect and tag butterflies on their migration south. Learn more here (


Jackson Hole Quilt Festival
Monday, October 8 to Saturday, October 13 — National Elk Refuge, WY
Come to the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center to see a unique quilt display, part of Quilts on the Square and Beyond.


Archery Deer Hunt
Friday, October 12, all day — Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Apply for a hunt permit here or call 410-639-7056. The refuge will be closed to the public during the hunt. Access to the boat ramp at Bogles Wharf will remain open.


Sandhill Crane Tour
Saturday, October 13, 6:30 to 8:30 am. — Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Meet at refuge headquarters to see the spectacle of hundreds of cranes flying overhead as they leave roost sites on refuge pools. Please wear clothing in earth tones – browns, tans, or greens. Dress for cold weather. Register: 763-389-3323 ext. 13 or email


Halloween Adventure: The Wild Night Life of the Refuge
Saturday, October 13, 2:30 to 7 p.m. — Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND
Learn about animals that are active at night: bats, owls, coyotes and creepy crawlers. Halloween programs for youth include a nocturnal wildlife presentation and craft and a nighttime nature hike. Pre-registration is required: 701-442-5474 ext. 117.


Volunteer Work Day
Saturday, October 13, 9 a.m. to noon — Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA
Join in a morning of volunteer work on the refuge.


Fall Waterfowl Migration Field Trip
Saturday, October 13, 10 a.m. to noon — Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, NY
Experience nature and learn about waterfowl. Meet at Cayuga Overlook.


Fall Fungi Foray
Sunday, October 14, 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Discover the beauty, diversity and biology of fungi on an informative identification hike. Meet at the North Tract Entrance. Appropriate for ages 8 and up. Register: 301-497-5887.


Fall Celebration
Sunday, October 14, 1-5 p.m. — Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, VA
Enjoy a canoe and kayak tour (10 a.m. to noon), exhibits, scavenger hunts, nature walks, auction and arts and crafts. Event is at Hutchinson Tract, 1.5 miles north of Hwy 17/360 Tappahannock split.


National Wildlife Refuge Week events
See some of the many events here [INSERT LINK TO REFUGE WEEK EVENTS PAGE] planned in honor of National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 14-20. The nation’s 556 national wildlife refuges protect wildlife habitat while cleaning our air, filtering our water and pollinating our crops. They also provide world-class hunting and fishing and hiking.


Fall Migration Bird Walk
Saturday, October 20, 7:30 a.m. — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC
See the migratory birds passing through the area. Thrushes and grosbeaks will be the focus of this walk. Other migratory species you may see include bobolinks, yellow-billed cuckoos, and scarlet tanagers. Meet at the refuge visitor center.


Basic Birding Hike
Saturday, October 20, 10 to 11 a.m. — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Join refuge staff to view birds in different habitats. Bring your own binoculars or borrow the refuge’s. Meet at the Egret Trail boardwalk parking lot off the refuge auto tour off Hwy 49.


Bike the Refuge
Saturday, October 20, 1 to 3 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Take a 7-mile family ride with a naturalist past the autumn leaves and fall grasses while spotting wildlife along the way. Fat, puncture proof tires are recommended. Helmets are required.


Guided Trail Walk
Saturday, October 20, 9 a.m. — Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, MS
Join refuge staff on the Douglas Bluff Trail. Meet at the picnic area kiosk.


Night Creatures
Tuesday, October 23 through Friday, October 26 − Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, MO
For children in Grades 1-4: Come to the refuge to learn about nocturnal creatures and take a trip through the Spook House.


Cape May Autumn Birding Festival
October 26-28, 2012 — Cape May, NJ
The annual birding festival is a Mid-Atlantic favorite that coincides with the migration of shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors and warblers. The festival features field trips to Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey.


Butterfly Festival
Saturday, October 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ─ St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Enjoy monarch butterfly tagging demonstrations, guided butterfly walks, butterfly talks, butterfly crafts for children and van tours to where butterflies are feeding. The refuge is the last stop for thousands of migrating monarch butterflies before they fly over the Gulf of Mexico.


A Trip Back in Time
Saturday, October 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon — Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Learn the history of the refuge grounds by wandering the trails with staff. Use a collection of old photographs to go back in time to the salt production, the old railroads and homes that predated construction of the town of Newark in 1876.


Saturday, October 27, 6 to 8 p.m. — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Mark Halloween with a suitably spooky howling safari. Journey to the heart of the refuge to hear the haunting sounds of captive red wolves. See a short video about the wolves and hear them howl.


Wild Discoveries for Kids
Saturday, October 27, 10 a.m. to noon — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Celebrate Halloween by learning about spooky animals and eerie skulls and bones. Come play a batty game, make a spooky craft and read creepy stories with refuge Rangers. All ages are welcome to this event in the Discovery Room.


Birding Field Trip
Sunday, October 28, 8 a.m. to noon — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Join a naturalist in a free birding field trip. See songbirds, waterfowl, waders, birds of prey and more. Bring binoculars and field guides. Meet at the visitor center.


Historical Bus Tour
Sunday, October 28, noon ─ Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join a historian for a popular bus tour of the historical sites of the Assabet River Refuge. Visit sites dating back to Native Americans, the War of Independence and World War II. Tickets are $9 per person paid in advance. Reserve:  978- 835-4515.


Self-Guided Tour, Crab Orchard Refuge
Sunday, October 28, 1 to 4 p.m. — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Enjoy a self-guided tour of parts of the refuge normally closed to the public.

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Last updated: September 28, 2012