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Wildlife Viewing Tips

Image of a black-tailed deer running in the trees at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge

The patient observer will be rewarded with many wildlife viewing opportunities. Every season brings a new wealth of discoveries. Use the following tips to observe and enjoy the varied wildlife found here.

Use Binoculars

Binoculars and spotting scopes allow you an up close look that does not affect wildlife behavior.

Come Early, Stay Late

Early morning and dusk are the best times of the day to view wildlife as this is when they are most active. Many National Wildlife Refuges are open from dawn to dusk, but be sure to check the website for the refuge you want to visit for specific hours. Many refuges also have automatically closing gates, so plan your visit to be out before the gates close.

Use Identification Guides

Field guides are helpful in identifying species of plants and animals. Most refuges have wildlife lists available at their website, trailheads, or visitor centers, and several have bookstores that carry more advanced identification guides.

Be Patient and Respectful

Move slowly. Quick movements and loud noises will frighten most wildlife away. Try sitting quietly in one location. Animals that have hidden may reappear after a short while. Walk quietly and teach children quiet observation. Other visitors will appreciate your consideration.

Use All of Your Senses

Be aware of sounds and smells. Often you will hear more than you will see. Look for animal signs. Tracks, scat, feathers, and chewed plants left behind often tell interesting stories. Remember to leave these discoveries where you find them so others can experience the thrill of discovery. And while you may use your sense of taste to enjoy a trail snack, please do not offer food to wildlife; your lunch could disrupt wild digestive systems.

Be Happy

Part of enjoying wildlife is keeping a positive attitude on the trail. As most parents know, this can be a bit of a challenge with young ones. Check out this great article by Heather Stephenson on the Children & Nature Network website about how to keep young hikers happy on the trail through active play, observation games, and responsible roles.

Read the article
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