Wildlife & Habitat


  • Bobcat


    The bobcat, though elusive, is seen somewhat regularly at Crab Orchard. This territorial and largely solitary cat needs a range of about 5 square miles, which means there could be as many as a dozen or more adult bobcats on the Refuge. It mainly hunts for rabbits, which are also uncommon on the Refuge. The bobcat is listed by the Refuge as uncommon; perhaps because they see us before we even get a chance to see them. Keep an eye open for bobcats along the driving tour route in the early morning.

  • Bald eagle

    Bald eagle

    The bald eagle is a testament to the success of the Endangered Species Act. Conservation efforts over the last 30 years have delisted this majestic bird and populations are on the rise nationwide. Crab Orchard is no exception and is home to six nesting pairs of resident bald eagles and their offspring. A few nesting sites are visible from public roads throughout the Refuge and eagles are spotted daily. Many migrating eagles spend their winters at Crab Orchard, following the flocks of ducks south.

  • Wild turkey

    wild turkey pair

    The wild turkey was hunted to near extinction by the early 20th-century but conservation and reintroduction efforts by America’s hunters and bird lovers over the past 60 years have returned this bird to its former abundance. Turkeys were not known to occur on the Refuge until 122 of the birds were released in 1958. Their numbers continued to increase over the following decades and the first annual turkey hunt on the Refuge took place in 1989. Today, Crab Orchard is home to a thriving population of wild turkey and is one of the most frequently seen animals on the Refuge.

  • Oak hickory forest

    The Rocky Bluff trail meanders through the oak hickory forest

    Forests cover about 56 percent of the Refuge. One Refuge goal has been to manage for productive oak-hickory forest dominated by native species. Examples of wildlife that use Refuge forests are deer, squirrels, raccoons, hawks, owls, and a variety of migratory and resident forest birds

  • Open water

    Crab Orchard Lake

    About 20 percent of the Refuge is covered by open water, almost all of it in man-made reservoirs. Open water serves as habitat for warm-water sport fish, waterfowl and other water birds.  

  • Cropland

    wildlife in farm field

    Cropland covers about 10 percent of the Refuge. Row croplands are farmed through cooperative farming agreements with eight farmers. Examples of wildlife that use cropland are deer, Canada geese, northern bobwhite, and turkey.