Seasons of Wildlife

Mallard Hen and ducklings 480x360

The rolling green hills provide a glimpse of native prairie. Current management and future plans are to emphasize the untouched character of the landscape. Expect to see vast panoramas of mostly untouched grasslands much as our ancestors observed.

There are interesting things to see on Crescent Lake National Refuge each season. During the spring and fall, a wide variety of migrating shorebirds and passerines utilize the Refuge as a stop on their journey. In the summer months breeding ducks and geese populate the lakes. Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers search the meadows for prey. You can also find White-tailed Deer, Mule Deer, Pronghorn, and a variety of resident birds including Ring-necked Pheasants, Greater Prairie Chicken, and Sharp-tailed Grouse.

  • Spring


    •Willows are the first trees to “green up”
    •Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes migrate through
    •American White Pelicans and other marsh and water birds arrive
    •Large numbers of Wilson's Phalarope arrive
    •Warblers return
    •Grouse dance in mid-April
    •Giant Canada Geese nest
    •Goslings appear in late April
    •Snakes and turtles become active
    •Bass spawn
    •Bluegills spawn
    •Chorus Frogs call (sounds like a finger running across the teeth of a comb) 

  • Summer

    Mule Deer Fawn

    •Spiderwort, yucca, prickly pear, and the endangered Blowout Penstemon bloom in June
    •Female cottonwood trees drop cotton (seeds)
    •Upland Sandpipers seen on fence posts
    •Shorebirds seen on mudflats
    •Double-crested Cormorants nest on area lakes
    •Eared Grebes seen on floating nests in Smith and Deer Lakes
    •Grouse, pheasant, and waterfowl broods visible
    •Pronghorn bear their young (kids)
    •Fawns visible
    •Garter snakes bear live young
    •Toads call (sounds like bleating sheep)
    •Migrating Blue-winged Teal begin arriving from the north in August
    •Sunflowers bloom in late summer

  • Autumn

    142x215 Western_Meadowlark

    •Big bluestem (turkey foot) seeds out
    •Painted Turtles bask on logs and Muskrat lodges
    •Bass fishing improves with cooler days
    •Horned Larks and Meadowlarks forage along roadsides
    •Dispersal of Coyote pups
    •Antlered deer visible
    •Deer in rut
    •Peak waterfowl migration in November

  • Winter

    145x184 Golden_Eagle

    •Most visible species: Ring-necked pheasant, Northern Harrier, and large wintering deer herds

    •Deer drop antlers

    •Reptiles underground and dormant

    •Ice fishing on Island Lake, Crane Lake, and Smith Lake

    Rough legged hawks are present during the winter months