U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

961 E Minidoka Dam Rd.
Rupert, ID   83350 - 9414
E-mail: jeffrey_krueger@fws.gov
Phone Number: 208-436-3589
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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  Wildlife and Habitat

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Unlike most birds, which molt wing and tail feathers one at a time, waterfowl lose their wing and tail feathers all at once and remain flightless for a month while the feathers grow back. The refuge's secluded bays free of disturbance, with lush beds of vegetation, attract 100,000 molting ducks and geese from July through September. During spring and fall migrations, over 500 tundra swans use the refuge.

Open water, marshes, and mudflats provide habitat for an assortment of waterbirds. Western and Clark's grebes, American coots, and killdeer are commonly seen. Careful observers may also see common loons and shorebirds, such as willets, American avocets, and Wilson's phalaropes.

Some birds depend on mutual defense and isolation to protect their nests from predators. Rather than nesting alone, they nest in dense colonies on small, isolated islands or in groves of small trees. Often, several species nest together in one colony. by acting together, they can repel most predators.

Colony nesters on the refuge include western and Clark's grebes, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, snowy egret, black-crowned night heron, American white pelican, California gull, and occasionally great egret or cattle egret. Portions of the refuge are closed to public access during the nesting season to protect the colonies from disturbance.

The variety of habitats at Minidoka supports a diversity of birds not found in most areas of Idaho. Over 230 species have been seen on the refuge. Because of the colonies and concentrations of waterfowl, American Bird Conservance has designated the refuge an Important Bird Area of Global Significance. Some non-migratory species such as sharp-tailed and sage grouse, ring-necked pheasant, gray partridge, and some songbirds are present year long. Other species occur only during summer months.

Bald eagles can be seen regularly during the fall and winter. Whether perched in a tree, foraging for fish below the dam, or sitting on the ice feeding on waterfowl, they are always a majestic sight. Look for them in large trees around the park during the winter. It takes four or five years before bald eagles get their white heads, so look carefully to distinguish young bald eagles from golden eagles.

Sagebrush is a unique plant community composed of plant species superbly adapted to this region's hot, dry summers and snowy winters. Sagebrush is a critical plant species for many animals, such as sage grouse, sage sparrow, Brewer's sparrow, and sage thrasher. Without large expanses of sagebrush, these species will continue to decline. Pronghorns and mule deer rely on sagebrush for winter food and cover all year long.

A wide variety of mammals occur on the refuge. Mule deer are commonly seen near the headquarters. Pronghorns can be found in small numbers in the wide open sagebrush. Smaller mammals often seen are beaver, cottontail, jackrabbit, muskrat, porcupine, raccoon, striped skunk, mink, coyote, and several species of bats. River otters can be seen on occasion. Rare species include couger, bobcat, elk, and moose.

Most of the upland areas are shallow soils underlain by fairly recent basalt lava flows, with an occasional sand dune scattered throughout. This mix of rock, sand, and shallow soil supports a diversity of small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. The divergence point of the Oregon and California Trails was about a mile south of the refuge boundary and an alternate route of the Oregon Trail crossed the northern part of the refuge.

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