Fall Scene on the Marsh

Mustard yellow, golden yellow, lemon yellow – shades of yellow define Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge this time of year.  The aspen and willow leaves are slowly turning yellow, the rabbitbrush flaunts blooms of yellow, and tiny yellow wildflowers dot the landscape.  Even the vegetation of the marsh has taken on a hue of yellow as shortening days cause green chlorophyll in the plants to break down, preparing for the winter dormancy that will follow soon.

 Sandhill Cranes in FallVisitation winds down as the refuge staff prepares the facilities for winter, but some aspects of refuge life are just kicking into high gear as wildlife make preparations as well.  Aerial insect densities increase, especially near the marsh units, providing plentiful food for the larger predators that rely on them.  Swallows fill the sky as they pass the refuge on their journey south, stopping to rest and refuel.  Sandhill cranes may be seen flocking up in the fields where they eat whatever fall harvest they can find before the long migration.  


Mule Deer Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge is situated between the Pacific and Central migration flyways; as a result, many migrant birds can be seen during this time of year. It was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 as “a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife”.  During fall the refuge can host tens of thousands of waterfowl and American Coots.   


 Garter Snake
 But birds aren't the only wildlife preparing for winter.  Pronghorn antelope are often seen grazing the last of what the meadows surrounding the marsh have to offer.  Watch out for snakes as you drive along Ruby Valley Road making their way back to their dens in the foothills.   



Fall also begins waterfowl hunting season on the Refuge, though large game hunting is not allowed.   

Whether you are looking to enjoy the scenery and cooler temperatures this time of year affords, hoping to do some wildlife watching, or get a jump on trout fishing, fall is a great time of year to visit Ruby Lake and experience all it has to offer.


Adapted from an article by Sara Ress Wittenberg