Wildlife & Habitat

  • Wood Duck

    Male wood duck - Ken Sturm/USFWS.

    Visible from mid-March through early November. This species is frequently observed along trails and wildlife viewing areas of the refuge in wetland areas and marsh units. Nesting boxes are placed in many wetland habitats and these nesting boxes are visible from refuge trails, boardwalks and viewing areas. A cavity nesting species, wood ducks use the large silver maples, swamp white oaks and cottonwoods that line the riverbanks of the Missisquoi river to nest. This species is often seen in virtually all wetland habitats on the refuge.

  • Great Blue Heron

    Great blue heron - USFWS.

    Visible at the refuge from mid-March through mid December or until ice formation. This species can be viewed along refuge trails and in flight over many areas of the refuge. A large great blue heron rookery is present on the refuge near the delta where the Missisquoi River intersects Missisquoi Bay. One of the best ways to enjoy seeing great blue herons and a variety of other wildlife including bald eagles and osprey on the refuge is by small watercraft (canoe, kayak, small motorboat).

  • Bobolink

    Bobolink on a refuge sign - Ken Sturm/USFWS.

    Visible from mid-May through the end of August. A grassland species that is best observed along Tabor Rd along the westernmost side of the refuge. Bobolinks are frequently observed right around the refuge HQ building and along 3 trails that begin along Tabor Rd. The colorful males provide a unique song and flight along the refuge grassland units of the refuge. These same grasslands provide opportunities to see northern harriers, eastern meadowlarks, and savanna sparrows.

  • Wetlands

    Wetlands - Ken Sturm/USFWS.

    The majority of Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of a variety of freshwater wetland habitats. Vegetated composition within many marsh units is comprised of emergent species such as wild rice, smartweed, pickerel weed, arrowhead and giant burred. Pond shield and white/yellow lilies are also present in many marsh units. Other wetlands include buttonbush marsh, and deep bulrush marshes. Together these emergent marsh units comprise a mosaic of thousands of acres on the refuge and provide some of the best examples of these wetland communities in the State of Vermont. 


  • Woodlands

    Woodlands in the fall - Ken Sturm/USFWS.

    Lakeside Floodplain Forest, Silver Maple-Sensitive Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest and Red Maple Green Ash Swamps are the dominant wooded communities on the refuge. All three communities tolerate seasonal inundation and have associated understories of winterberry holly, dogwoods and a variety of water tolerant fern species. The trees in all three communities can grow to heights in excess of 100 ft and have tree diameters in excess of 3 feet. The seasonally open Jeep Trail parallels the Missisquoi River under a canopy of these giant trees for nearly 2 miles.

  • Bog

    Maquam bog - Ken Sturm/USFWS.

    The Maquam Bog is classified as a pitch pine woodland bog. This community is the only one of its kind in Vermont and one of only a few found throughout New England. The 900 acre bog features pitch pine, rare Virginia chain fern, blueberries, a variety of sphagnum moss species and is dominated by rhodora. Peat depths range from 2.5 ft to 8 ft deep. Fires and flooding are the two events that have shaped and maintained the vegetative communities in the bog. The bog is home to short eared owls, shrikes, moose and serves as a wintering area for whitetail deer. Please note that the bog is closed to all public use except for upland game hunting. Special Use Permits may be applied for to access the bog for other purposes, please contact the refuge manager for details.