Seasons of Wildlife

Winter Sunset on DeSoto

The changing seasons offer different opportunities to enjoy DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.  

  • Spring

    Duck Butts by Dave and Sharon Bailey

    In early spring (typically early March) waterfowl move through the refuge on their way north.  Along with the waterfowl, eagles also move through and head north.  Resident bald eagles will begin nesting on the active eagles nest on the refuge.

    Later in the spring, shorebirds and spring songbirds utilize the refuge wetlands, prairies and bottomland forest habitats as a resting and refueling place during their migration.  Turkeys can be heard attempting to attract their mates.  Spring is a great time to see a diversity of wildlife on the refuge.

    Photo Credit: David and Sharon Bailey 

  • Summer

    WhiteTailed Deer Eating Flowers by Dave and Sharon Bailey

    During the summer months look for wood duck broods as they learn how to swim on the refuge wetlands and ponds. Great blue herons can be seen feeding in wetlands and on DeSoto Lake. Turtles are often seen crossing the roads in search of mates and nesting areas.

    Fawns with their mothers can be seen grazing and frolicking. The best time to view wildlife in the summer heat is early in the morning or just before dusk in the evening.

    Photo Credit: David and Sharon Bailey 

  • Fall

    Waterfowl on Desoto Lake by Dave and Sharon Bailey

    Fall marks the start of the migration.  Neo-tropical migrants will move through the refuge on their way back to their wintering grounds in South America.  In late fall the waterfowl and eagles start arriving on the refuge in search of food.  Peak populations of 50,000 or more ducks, mostly mallards, are common on the refuge during the fall migration.  Late October through early December are typically the months of peak waterfowl use.

    Photo Credit: David and Sharon Bailey 

  • Winter

    Bald Eagle by Randy mays

    Bald eagle numbers typically peak on the refuge in December and again in late February.  Look for eagles along the edge of DeSoto Lake and along the Missouri River.  Concentrations of ducks and geese will also stick around in open water areas during the winter months on the refuge.

    Photo Credit: Randy Mays