Seasons of Wildlife

  • Spring


    The northward waterfowl migration coincides with the thawing of refuge ponds in late February. Tundra swans, Canada geese, and ducks stop on the refuge to rest and feed while other birds begin their courtship displays. Among the most spectacular displays are snipe "winnowing" and ruffed grouse "drumming." By late spring, waterfowl, bald eagles, osprey, and songbirds are nesting. Occasionally a visitor may be fortunate enough to see a black bear, a moose or an elk.  Three species of hummingbirds can be observed zipping around the native plant gardens. 

  • Summer

    Great Blue Heron in tree

    By early summer, geese and ducks have hatched and may be seen on ponds along with American coots and pied-billed grebes. An active bald eagle nest can be observed from the Auto Tour Road or view the activity on the EagleCam at Refuge headquarters. Northern harriers, red-tailed hawks, and American kestrels are commonly seen hunting over refuge fields. Osprey hunt for fish from the air while great blue herons wade in shallow water searching for fish and frogs on refuge ponds. American Dippers flit among the rocks in Myrtle Creek.

  • Fall

    WT Deer Family

    In the mornings and evenings, beavers, coyotes, mule, and white-tailed deer might be seen. Osprey and shorebirds depart early in the season, while duck migration peaks in early November. Bald eagles arrive at the same time in search of sick or injured ducks that make an easy meal.


  • Winter

    Elk in Winter

    Ponds freeze over by late November and remaining waterfowl move to the ice-free Kootenai River. They continue to feed in refuge grain fields. Bald eagles concentrate around the flocks of ducks. Rough-legged hawks hunt for mice on the uplands.  A herd of 100-200 elk often wander down to the grain fields to browse in the evenings and head back up to the safety of the forest at first light in the mornings.