Wildlife & Habitat

Northern Shovelers 512x318_Craig Bihrle

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge provides food, water, shelter, and space for a variety of wildlife species. Refuge managers focus their efforts on managing the land to meet the needs of waterfowl and other migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, and resident wildlife. 

  • Northern Pintail

    Northern Pintail_150x99_USFWS

    Northern pintails return to the refuge in late-March, seeking shallow, seasonal wetlands for breeding. They are one of the earliest nesting ducks in North America, nesting in the prairie grasslands shortly after ice-out. The hen creates a scrape in the ground, lines it with grass and down, and lays 6-12 eggs that are greenish-buff in color. The hen incubates the eggs for 22-23 days, and after hatching, leads her brood to wetlands that contain vegetation and high protein meals of invertebrates for the ducklings to feed on.

  • Piping Plover

    Piping Plover_150x127_USFWS_Jacob Gross

    Piping plovers are small shorebirds that were federally listed as threatened and endangered in 1986. The plovers that nest on Audubon Refuge are part of the threatened Northern Great Plains population - they make their nests on open, sparsely vegetated sand or gravel beaches adjacent to alkali wetlands. The plovers arrive on their breeding grounds in the early spring and lay 3 to 4 eggs in shallow scraped depressions lined with light colored pebbles. The eggs are well camouflaged and blend extremely well with their surroundings. Both the male and female incubate the eggs which hatch within 30 days, and then feed their young until they can fly (about 30 days after hatching). They depart for their wintering grounds in mid-summer. 

  • Sharp-tailed Grouse

    Sharp-tailed Grouse_150x118_NDGF

    The sharp-tailed grouse is a hardy resident species that makes the prairie grasslands it's year-round home. The refuge also provides habitat for other resident wildlife such as white-tailed deer, coyote, red fox, gray partridge, and ring-necked pheasants.