Wildlife & Habitat

Boyer Chute

Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect fish and wildlife habitat of the Missouri River floodplain.

  • Migratory Waterfowl

    Mallards using Wetland

    Migrating birds have followed the Missouri River each spring and fall since the last ice age. As their resting and feeding sites along the flyway have disappeared, refuges, such as Boyer Chute, have become increasingly vital to their survival.

    During the spring and fall, Boyer Chute’s wetlands become a temporary home for a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. Look for migrating birds from September-December and March-April. A variety of birds depend on the aquatic and wetland habitats at Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge. Such species include mallards, blue and green winged teal, northern pintail, American wigeon, wood ducks, Canada geese and pelicans.

  • Grassland Birds


    Boyer Chute’s grasslands are home to many bird species including dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, and meadowlarks. The refuge’s large tracts of prairie provide cover for nesting sites protecting the birds from predators, such as coyotes, foxes and raccoons, which prefer the edges of the grasslands.

  • Songbirds

    Yellow Warbler

    In spring, the bottomland forests of Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge fill with color and music as a variety of songbirds arrive from Central and South America. These migrants are called neotropical migrants because they breed in Canada or the United States and then migrate in the winter to Mexico, Central America, South America or the Caribbean.

  • Wetlands

    Wetland at Boyer Chute

    Wetlands at Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuges are places of biological productivity, resilience and beauty. Wetlands are known as the nurseries of life as they provide habitat for thousands of aquatic and terrestrial species. With increased wetlands, amphibian and reptile populations will explode with the tadpoles, aquatic vegetation and aquatic invertebrates providing food for the migratory birds. Wetlands and wetland restoration play in important part in the refuge’s mission as they provide resting and feeding spots for migratory birds such as wood ducks, green and blue winged teal, mallards, great blue herons, egrets and many more. Over 90% of the area’s wetlands have been drained, this habitat is important because wetlands serve as flood storage, improve water quality and provide critical habitat for many rare and declining species as well as mass numbers of birds during migrations. The health and breeding success of wetland dependent birds depends on utilizing these habitats during the stressful migrations.

  • Bottomland Forest

    Cottonwood Tree

    It is likely that most of what is now Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge was once covered with bottomland floodplain forest, although the continual shifting and meandering of the river channel probably removed the forest cover periodically and maintained some areas in prairie grass. Cottonwood is the dominant tree. These stands were likely established when the Missouri River was actively flooding, scouring and depositing soils in natural processes that are no longer occurring on a regular basis. Without flooding, proper conditions for the regeneration of cottonwood stands rarely occurs. In 2011, many of the bottomland forests at the refuge flooded. The effects of this flooding on the forest will be seen for years to come.

  • Tallgrass Prairie

    Big Blue Stem

    It has been estimated that of the original tallgrass prairie that once covered millions of acres across the midwest, as little as 1% remains. Tallgrass prairie is much more than just grasses and includes hundreds of species of shrubs, forbs, and wildflowers and a host of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects that depend upon the vegetation composition and structure, either directly or indirectly. The refuge is between bottomland forest and prairie and it is likely that both existed here in pre-settlement times.

    At least 14 species of native grasses can be found in refuge grasslands with the dominant species being big bluestem, little bluestem, switchgrass, indian grass, and Canada wild rye. There are at least 160 species of native forbs and wildflowers found in refuge grasslands.