Seasons of Wildlife

Ruddy Duck Displaying by Mike Peters

Each season brings a new look to the refuges with a variety of wildlife. Although the peak waterfowl season is October through February, the best viewing months are November and December. The seasons mark an endless cycle of growing plants and migrating wildlife which can be observed and enjoyed year-round. There is a fine line between viewing and disturbing wildlife. Do not approach wildlife; instead use binoculars to view them up close, and remain quiet.

  • Fall (Sept - Nov)

    150 Pintail courtship flight

    Flocks of shorebirds begin arriving in August and September as the water begins to flow back into the wetlands. Northern Pintails are the first duck to arrive and signal the beginning of fall migration. White-fronted geese will follow. White geese begin to appear in October these birds continue farther south on their journey.

  • Winter (Dec - Feb)

    Snow goose with collar

    Duck and geese numbers peak. Snow and Ross's geese, mallard, wigeon, teal, bufflehead, ruddy duck, northern shoveler and ring-necked ducks enjoy the flooded marsh.

  • Spring (Mar - May)

    150 Wildflowers sac yellow

    As ducks and geese leave for their breeding grounds, shorebirds arrive. Sandpipers, dowitchers, dunlin, avocets, black-necked stilts and others probe the mudflats for food. Vernal pools become a display of colors. The riparian areas of Sacramento River NWR and Sutter NWR are alive with migrating neotropicals.

  • Summer (June - Aug)

    Tricolor blackbird 2

    As the temperature creeps up in the 90's and 100's, the water disappears across the refuges. Staff are busy managing the habitats preparing for the next season. Herons, egrets, grebes, and some ducks remain to nest in the premanent ponds. Orioles, swallows, and flycatchers are found amongst the trees. Tricolored blackbirds search out bulrush and cattail territories at Delevan NWR.  Resident deer, blackbirds, jackrabbits, otter and muskrat can be observed.