Modoc National Wildlife Refuge Habitat

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Have a look at the various habitat types at Modoc NWR and why they are valuable to wildlife!

  • Semipermanent Wetlands and Seasonal Wetlands (1,966 acres)

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    Semipermanent and seasonal wetland habitats provide valuable resources for nearly every species at Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. The insects, seeds, and tubers are just a few of the food resources that wetlands provide for foraging wildlife. Thick wetland vegetation provides nesting cover during the spring and summer months, while acting as shelter during the harsher fall and winter months. In the arid Great Basin environment where Modoc NWR is found, these wetlands become even more valuable as water is a scarce resource. Preserving these wetland habitats is imperative to conserving the rich diversity of wildlife found in North America.

  • Wet Meadows (2,183 acres)

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    Irrigated wet meadows provide extraordinary habitat for a variety of species at Modoc NWR.  Because these meadows are not often limited by water availability, they are composed of a rich variety of grasses, forbs, and sedges that provide forage and nesting cover for many bird species.  


  • Farmed Fields (554 acres)

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    Agricultural grains provide crucial calories to migrating and wintering waterfowl. In addition, other birds and mammals forage on the grains and insects in the fields. The Refuge farms between 4 and 6 fields a year to provide this high-energy food source. When not in grain, some of the fields are flooded to provide supplemental wetland habitat, which also replenishes soil nutrients. The Refuge is in the process of converting the least productive grain fields back to native grasslands or seasonal wetlands.


  • Uplands (1,514 acres)

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    The Refuge uplands consist of a variety of grasses and forbs intermixed with sagebrush and rabbitbrush. Though very susceptible to weed invasion, this habitat provides valuable cover for nesting ducks, along with providing foraging opportunities for other birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The Refuge is constantly battling weeds in this habitat to foster the survival and expansion of the native plants.


  • Riparian (246 acres)

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    At Modoc NWR, riparian habitats provide valuable resources for birds, especially raptors and small song birds that forage and nest in the dense cover. The riparian habitat at the Refuge is made up almost entirely of Cottonwoods and Willows. Red-tailed hawks, great-horned owls, and western kingbirds are common summer residents found in riparian corridors, while bald eagles, red-shouldered hawks, and cedar waxwings use them throughout their migrations.