Spring Scene on unit 21

The pristine refuge waters are continually replenished by more than two hundred springs flowing out of the snow-capped Ruby Mountains.  With 11,000 foot summits, this majestic range offers spectacular opportunities for photography.  Capture them at different times of the day for a variety of awe-inspiring photographs.  Take advantage of the two blinds on the refuge to photograph the wildlife of the marsh.

 Sandhill CraneFluffy yellow goslings huddle near the safety of their parents on the refuge’s dikes, Sandhill Cranes stake out their territories and guard nests, and the male Sage Grouse perform their elaborate courtship dances in an effort to attract a mate.  The Yellow-headed Blackbirds arrive en masse and can be seen flitting around the bulrush of the rapidly greening marsh.  Gopher and garter snakes emerge and can be seen basking on the warm roads of the refuge.   

 Northern Pintail in flightSpring is a great time to go birding on the refuge, as northern-migrating birds join the resident species.  Take a short hike on Cave Creek trail, located beside the refuge headquarters, and watch for warblers and other riparian species.  Drive the 7.5 mile auto tour loop and scan the marsh for Cinnamon Teal, White-faced Ibis, and Marsh Wrens.  Search the surrounding grasslands and sagebrush for Sage Thrashers and Horned Larks.  Scan the junipers for Western Scrub Jays and Lewis’s Woodpeckers.  Ruby Lake boasts a bird list of over 220 species, and is recognized as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.  People come from all over the world to birdwatch on Ruby Lake.   

 Marmot profileThe auto tour route is a good place to watch for other wildlife as well – muskrat frequent the waters of Ruby Lake and coyotes prowl the grasslands.  Watch for mule deer and pronghorn antelope as you drive north to south along Ruby Valley Road through the refuge.  A wetland in the Great Basin desert is rare, and many species depend on the existence of Ruby Lake marsh.  Take a day this spring to visit Ruby Lake – you will not be disappointed! 


Adapted from an article by Sara Ress Wittenberg