Wildlife & Habitat

Wildlife abounds at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge! Two hundred forty-two species of birds, 43 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles, and 16 species of amphibians can be found on the refuge for at least part of the year. The wide array of wildlife can be credited to the varied habitat types found here, from marsh to forest, shrub- and grassland.

  • Waterfowl

    Canada geese in the snow - Doug Racine/USFWS.

    Tens of thousands of ducks and geese inhabit the refuge during the spring and fall migrations. Canada and snow geese can fill the sky, while black duck and mallards can be found throughout the refuge pools.

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  • Marsh & Water Birds

    Great blue heron - Todd Harless.

    A tour around the refuge's shallow pools may reveal several species of wading and other water birds, some of which nest here. The shallow waters, fringed by cattail and other emergent vegetation, attract an abundance of great blue heron, green-backed heron, great egret, black-crowned night-heron, Virginia rail, sora, bitterns, common moorhen and pied-billed grebes.

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  • Shorebirds

    Common snipe - Zachary Cava/USFWS.

    Montezuma is extremely important to migrating shorebirds as a stopover point along their interior route of southward migration in the late summer/early fall. The mix of species found here certainly differs from that along the Atlantic Coast.

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  • Bald Eagles

    Bald eagle in flight - Don Freiday/USFWS.

    Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge played an integral role in reintroducing the once-endangered bald eagle to New York State. Here is an account of this innovative restoration program, and a little history on Montezuma's bald eagles.

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  • Mammals

    Raccoon - Thomas Tetzner/USFWS.

    Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is rich in wildlife. The refuge provides habitats for an abundance of wildlife species. Sixteen species of amphibians, fifteen species of reptiles, forty-three species of mammals, and two hundred forty-two species of birds have either been recorded or can reasonably be expected to be present on the refuge for at least a portion of the year.

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  • Carp

    Common carp drawing - Duane Raver.

    Native to Asia, carp were introduced to the United States during the 1880s by the U.S. Fish Commission as a food fish. Carp proved to be detrimental to native fish populations and never became as popular for game or food in North America as they are in Europe and Asia.

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  • Reptiles & Amphibians

    Wood frog - Thomas Tetzner.

    Sixteen species of amphibians and fifteen species of reptiles have been documented as using the refuge. Recent herpetological surveys conducted by refuge staff and volunteers reported nine species of frogs and one species of toads breeding on the refuge.

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  • Habitats

    American wigeon - J&K Hollingsworth.

    Over the last decade, the refuge’s habitat management has focused on increasing the diversity of habitats and wildlife species on the refuge. Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, biological diversity. The number of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms, the massive diversity of genes in these species, and the different ecosystems on Earth are all part of biodiversity. A biodiverse ecosystem is a healthy ecosystem, and world-wide, can provide important benefits to wildlife and to people. Four main types of habitats add to the refuge’s biodiversity.

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