Wildlife & Habitat

Freshwater Habitat

Almost half of Minidoka Refuge's 20,699 acres are open water and wetlands. In this arid landscape, these resources serve as an oasis, drawing numerous wildlife species from miles around.  Many species use the bulrush and cattail habitat that lines the lake's small bays. Others use the willows, cottonwoods, and other tree species growing near the shorelines. The remainder of the refuge is low, rolling uplands with sagebrush, grasses, and isolated juniper patches among scattered outcrops of basalt.

  • Birds

    Black-crowned night heron

    Open water, marshes and mudflats provide habitat for a wide variety of waterbirds. Western and Clark's Grebes, American coots, and killdeer are common. Colony nesters on the refuge include grebes, cormorant, great blue heron, american white pelican and several other species. Over 235 species of birds have been observed utilizing the refuge. 

    Learn More
  • Mammals


    A wide variety of mammals occur on the refuge. Mule deer are commonly seen near the headquarters. Pronghorn are seen in the open sagebrush areas. Beaver, cottontail, porcupine (pictured), raccoon, coyote, bats, and other species are present on the refuge. Less common species include cougar, bobcat, river otter, elk and moose. 

  • Amphibians and Reptiles

    gopher snake

    Several reptile and amphibian species are found at Minidoka, gopher snakes (picture), rattlesnakes, racers, garter snakes and leopard frogs are commonly found on the refuge during warm summer months.

    Learn More
  • Fish

    large mouth bass

    Smallmouth Bass, sturgeon, carp, rainbow trout, and yellow perch are all found in Lake Walcott and in the Snake River. 

    Learn More
  • Endangered Species

    Bald Eagle on Roost

    Bald eagles, a protected species,  can regularly be seen during fall and winter at Minidoka. Look for them in large trees around the area during winter. It takes 4 to 5 years before they get their white heads, so look carefully to distinguish young bald eagles from golden eagles. St. Anthony Dunes Tiger Beetles, a candidate species, are also found in this area. 

  • Habitat

    nesting colonies

    Molting Areas and Waterfowl

    Unlike most birds that molt wing and tail feathers one at a time, waterfowl lose their wing and tail feathers all at once and remain flightless for a month while their feathers grow back.

    The refuge’s secluded bays, free of disturbance, with lush beds of vegetation, can attract 100,000 molting ducks and geese from July through September.

     Colony nesters depend on mutual defense and isolation to protect their nests from predators. Species such as American white pelicans, gulls, cormorants, and herons nest in dense colonies on small isolated islands or in groves of tall trees. Often, several species nest together in one colony, this offers additional protection to each species. 

  • Invertebrates

    Invertebrates comprise the bulk of animal species diversity in all terrestrial habitats.

    Learn More