Seasons of Wildlife

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For everything, there is a season...   Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge offers opportunities year-round.. for wildlife and habitat management and for people to come experience this unique place.

  • Spring


    Grasses and wildflowers green up and trees sprout leaves and begin to bloom during March, April, and May. Early flowers such as Virginia iris in ditches, red maple in forests, and black-eyed Susan along roadsides color the refuge landscape. Shorebirds replace waterfowl in drained moist soil management units. Neotropical songbirds return from the West Indies and Central and South America to breed and nest in forested wetlands. Bear sows emerge from the forests and roam the farm fields with their cubs in search of food. Tram tours introduce refuge visitors to the refuge.

  • Summer


    June, July, and August is the time when songbird chicks are raised and fledged. Turtles are out and about and can often be sunning themselves on the banks of and logs in ditches and lakes. Great blue herons, great egrets, and snowy egrets abound. In July and August, southbound shorebirds utilize the drained moist soil management units before they are flooded. Wetland and streambank plants such as pickerelweed and arrowhead bloom and adorn the area. Winged sumac and devil’s walking stick display their flowers along roadsides attracting a wide variety of pollinating insects. The refuge’s summer canoe tours and programs provide opportunities for the public to learn about the refuge and its wildlife and habitats.

  • Fall


    September, October, and November treat us to a variety of goldenrods and asters that feed pollinating insects before frost occurs. Red maple leaves turn red and swamp tupelo leaves turn purple giving the evergreen background on the refuge some variety. Fruit and seed of native plants hang on vegetation throughout the refuge. Crops attract bears out into the crop fields. Ducks, geese, and tundra swans begin making their way south to the Alligator River moist soil management units for a rest stop or overwinter destination. In October, the Wings over Water Festival brings 100 tours and programs to the area.

  • Winter


    December through February is an exciting time at the refuge. Thousands of green-winged teal, mallards, American widgeon, black ducks, pintails, northern shovelers, ring necked ducks, and tundra swans make the Alligator River moist soil management units their winter home. Dabbling ducks harvest seed from the bottoms of moist soil management units; geese and swans glean grain from crop fields. Overwintering songbirds eat seed from native shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses. Bald eagles, barred owls, great blue herons, and American egrets are also among the cold weather sights. Black bears lumber through the farm fields scavenging grain left by farmers; white-tailed deer browse on twigs and bark. Visitors may drive, hike, and paddle throughout the refuge areas not closed for wintering waterfowl.