Seasons of Wildlife

Western Grebe & Young Bohn 520X219

Changes in the seasons are dramatic at wildlife refuges in North Dakota.  The sometimes long cold bitter winters, when most birds migrate to warmer climes; and then the complete reversal as spring arrives, the prairie explodes with color and wildlife and the sounds of the breeding season as territories are established; through the doldrums of summer heat, declining water levels, birds in moult and wildlife hiding in the tall grasses; to the onset of fall with cooler days, changing colors and loss of leaves from trees and disappearing flocks of waterfowl winging their way south again to escape the coming cold.  The seasons are always changing in North Dakota.  

  • Spring

    Canvasbacks flying Severson 150X118

    Spring is often the best season of the year at Arrowwood refuge.  With the end of the long cold winter, the prairie comes alive again in the spring, as snow melt water fills wetlands, hundreds of thousands of migrating birds fill the air, grasses start growing and trees and shrubs bud out, everything comes alive with newly arriving birds everyday. 

  • Summer

    BW Teal brood Galt 150X118

    Seasons of wildlife continue in early summer, as we start seeing many broods of birds on the refuge and surrounding lands.
    By late July and early August, Canada geese congregate on the lakes and are molting, and duck broods start flying. As summer progresses and the lake levels drop, shorebirds begin migrating through headed south, feeding by the thousands on the exposed mudflats. Look for dowitchers, sandpipers, godwits, yellowlegs and plovers.

  • Fall

    WT Deer in Rut Severson 150X118

    Fall starts with the migration as waterfowl begin arriving from northern breeding grounds and congregate in the hundreds of thousands on the refuge lakes and marshes, feeding in the surrounding harvested cropfields.  Deer have lost the velvet on their antlers and magnificent bucks can be seen chasing away competitors for breeding rights in November. 

  • Winter

    Winter sunrise USFWS 150X118

    Winter can be viewed either as bleak and desolate or crisp and breathtaking in beauty.  Only a few birds remain that could migrate south such as bald eagles, nuthatches and chickadees; and resident wildlife like sharp-tailed grouse, white-tailed deer, coyotes and fox.