National Wildlife Refuge System

Winter Fun on a Refuge

A Cooper's hawk scans a snowy landscape for its next meal.
Credit: Kent Mason

Christmas Bird Count for Kids
Why should adults have all the fun? Starter versions at many refuges teach youngsters the joy of birding and contributing to a major citizen science effort. Here’s one example:
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT – Thursday, December 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Spend the morning learning about birds, identifying birds, and helping scientists count birds in the area. Attend a Binocular Boot Camp. Then look for as many birds as possible. Designed for kids ages 6-15. Parents, grandparents and friends are welcome. Bring a lunch for the tallying party afterwards. Sign up: 435-723-5887
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 in elk country, 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
Holiday Tour
Saturday, December 22 and Saturday, December 29, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Jump aboard the holiday express tour bus to see bison, deer, coyotes, bald eagles and more. After the tour, make a seasonal craft in the Discovery Room and help decorate the refuge tree.
Sanibel Island Lecture Series
Thursday, December 27, 11 a.m. — J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Learn about the wolves of Yellowstone from Douglas W. Smith, a senior wildlife biologist for Yellowstone National Park. Education Center Auditorium.
Refuge Fledgling Hour
Friday, December 28, 10:30. to 11:30 a.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Learn how animals deal with snow and the science behind a snowflake. Crafts and an outdoor adventure are included. For ages 2 to 5 years old; siblings welcome.
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

Last updated: December 21, 2012