Wildlife & Habitat

Wildlife and Habitat

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge is located on the ancient Glacial Lake Agassiz beach ridge transition zone, where northern tallgrass prairie and aspen parkland biomes transition to eastern deciduous forest. The diversity of habitat attracts an impressive variety of wildlife.

  • Trumpeter Swan

    T Swan

    Trumpeter swans, the largest of North American waterfowl, can be seen on the Refuge throughout the spring, summer and fall. Wild trumpeter swans have been known to live longer than 24 years. They form pair bonds when they are 3-4 years old, breed in fresh water marshes and along ponds and lakes. Rydell Refuge is currently host to numerous pairs of nesting Trumpeter Swans.

  • Hardwood Forests

    Hardwood Forest

    Rydell Refuge lies between the flat Red River Valley floodplain and the rolling hardwood forest and lake region of Minnesota. Historically, the area was a small forested island, protected from prairie wildfires by lakes to the south and west. This “fire shadow” allowed trees to mature. A maple-basswood forest developed, intermingled with oak savanna and open prairie.

  • Fisher


    The fisher is a member of the weasel family. Fishers are shy creatures and avoid open areas; they prefer older timber stands to hunt with vegetation to provide cover. Fishers prey on small mammals and birds, and contrary to its name, the fisher does not catch or eat fish. The fisher’s range consists of young and old forests in northern Minnesota with additional populations all across North America.

  • Tallgrass Prairie

    Tallgrass Prairie

    Restoring and maintaining native tallgrass prairie provides areas for nesting habitat for waterfowl and other ground nesting bird species. In coordination with the wetland restoration being done on the refuge, these grasslands will provide valuable habitat for nesting waterfowl species. Today, Rydell National Wildlife Refuge is a mosaic of natural and restored wetlands, hardwood stands, and restored tallgrass prairie providing habitat for a multitude of species.

  • Mink Frog

    Mink frog

    One of the most unusual sounds of the summer is the call of the mink frog. The hollow, wood-stick sound, like a bamboo wind chime, is a sure sign that summer is in high gear. Listen for them in June and July at sundown.

  • Wetlands


    Fully functional wetlands are the heartbeat of healthy landscape. The goal of wetland management at Rydell Refuge is to restore drained wetlands to pre-settlement conditions. Benefits of fully functional wetlands include: wildlife habitat, improved water quality, water storage that controls flooding, and ground water recharge.