Wildlife & Habitat

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Forty species of waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds use the Refuge for migration and nesting including mountain plover, red-necked and Wilson's phalarope, American avocet, redheads and lesser and greater scaup. The Refuge upland sagebrush habitat supports greater sage-grouse, pronghorn, and other sage-obligate species 

  • Open-water wetlands

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    The diversity of wetland habitat, including the deep water of the reservoir, artificial ponds, and playas, that exist within Pathfinder NWR provides conditions with varying amounts of emergent and aquatic vegetation, salinity and open water that support a variety of wildlife species.  

  • Upland/shrub and grassland

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    Uplands consisting of shrub and grasslands are the dominant habitat at Pathfinder NWR.  Adjacent to the reservoir in the area impacted by the rise and fall of the water, cutbanks of blowing sand and dryland shrub communities dominate.  In the gentle terrain of the Sweetwater Arm Unit grassy meadows have developed.  When the reservoir is full this backwater area becomes wet.

  • Alkali Flats

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    The alkaline/saline soils of alkali flat habitat severely restricts plant growth. Wildlife use is generally limited to migratory shorebirds, likely in association with nearby water.

  • Plants

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    105 plant species can be found on the Refuge.

  • Birds

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    There are 158 species of potentially occurring birds, including the white-faced ibis, that may be seen at the Refuge. Pathfinder NWR is designated as an Important Bird Area by Wyoming Audubon.  The Refuge is a valuable waterfowl migration stopover on the western edge of the Central Flyway.

  • Mammals

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    There are 25 species of mammal, including mule deer, that make their home on the Refuge.

  • Amphibians and Reptiles

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    Though harder to spot, 3 species of amphibians and 2 reptile species, including the prairie rattlesnake, can be found on the Refuge.

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  • Species of Concern

    A state listed rare plant, slender spiderflower, is present at the Sweetwater Arm Unit of the Refuge.  This plant's flowering/fruiting period takes place in June-August. It grows in saline or alkaline soils around ponds, meadows, or old lake beds; often in bands just above rushes and extending into greasewood and saltgrass.