Wildlife & Habitat

Leopard Frog

Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 17,000-acres of riverine habitat along the Missouri River.

  • Wild Turkey

    Wild Turkey

    The most commonly hunted game bird on the refuge. Turkey numbers and distribution vary widely between years due to spring weather conditions and flooding on the refuge.

  • Beaver


    As the bottomland forest returns to the Missouri River floodplain, so does the beaver. Nature’s amazing engineers are actively creating a wide variety of habitats for other wildlife on the refuge.

  • American Redstart

    American Redstart

    These secretive warblers are found in second growth forests on bottomlands and moist hillsides associated with tributary drainages of the Missouri River.

  • Scour Holes

    Scour Hole

    “Scour holes” or “blew holes “provide unique habitats on the Missouri River floodplain. They form during flood events as floodwaters encounter an obstacle, usually a levee, a road or other man-made structure. If a portion of the structure gives way, the flood water pours through a constricted opening and blows out or scours the substrate away, forming a plunge pool. When the flood water recedes, a semi -permanent water body (1-40 acres) is left behind. Scour holes provide habitat for fish, amphibians, turtles, birds and mammals.

  • Bottomland Forest

    Bottomland Forest

    Bottomland forest was the dominant habitat along the Missouri River when Lewis and Clark traveled from St. Louis toward what is now Kansas City. Today, there are no “old growth” cottonwood gallery forests on the refuge, but there are several thousand acres of young (less than 20 years old) bottomland forest. This habitat is important to a number of migratory songbirds and raptors as well as many mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

  • Side Channels

    Side Channel of Missouri River

    Chutes or side channels are unique habitats connected to the main channel of the river but providing shallower and slower moving water for fish and other wildlife. The refuge contains three naturally formed and functioning chutes (Cranberry Bend, Lisbon Bottom and Boone’s Crossing) along with the remnants of several historic chutes (Jackass Bend, St. Aubert’s Island and Cora Island). These remnant chutes still carry water during flood events. A partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has resulted in the construction of three additional chutes (Jameson Island and two at Overton Bottoms) since 2002.