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Duck on the MarshThe snow-capped mountains and chilly days are replaced by the lush verdant green of the marsh and temperatures range from the low eighties to mid-nineties during the afternoon.  The green and brown mosaic of scrub and sagebrush that dominated in spring is now dotted with splashes of color from various wildflower species.  It is a beautiful time to visit Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. 

Duck with ducklingsThe refuge is alive with activity this time of year, between human visitors, resident wildlife and breeding birds.  As always, the refuge auto tour loop provides spectacular scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities.  Drive on the refuge and watch marsh edges for ducklings paddling after their parents.  Also look for the several pairs of Trumpeter Swans that reside year-round on the refuge.  Lucky visitors will get a glimpse of their cygnets, or young swans.  Pronghorn can be sighted on the refuge during summer, as well as coyotes and their pups.  Snakes can often be seen crossing or basking on the warm refuge roads, the most abundant being gopher snakes and Great Basin rattlesnakes. 

Trumpeter Swan pairIf you want to get a little closer to the wildlife out on the marsh, boating season begins June 15th when non-motorized boats and boats with electric motors are allowed.  Starting August 1st the South Marsh is also open to motorized boats with 10 horsepower or less.  For active types, the 7.5 mile auto tour drive doubles as a great biking loop.  Or take a short hike on the Cave Creek trail.  This cool riparian corridor into the Ruby Mountains offers a welcome respite during the heat of the afternoon.   

 Yellow-headed blackbird mother and babyThough not the peak of migration, birders will find a smattering of resident species that will make birding the refuge worthwhile.  Easy summer finds (besides breeding ducks and swans) include such species as White-faced Ibis, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Yellow-breasted Chats.  Sandhill Crane pairs can be seen foraging in fields on the west side of the refuge.  Long-eared Owls may be spotted hanging out in the willows and Burrowing Owls might be seen from Ruby Valley Road.  Hang around until dusk and you’ll have a chance at a Common Poorwill.  Take a look at our Wildlife Checklist to see what else you might discover. 


Adapted from an article by Sara Ress Wittenberg



Last Updated: Dec 05, 2013
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