Seasons of Wildlife


Visitors can come to Santee National Wildlife Refuge year-round!  The seasonal changes of the refuge allow for visitors to witness a large variety of migratory species as well nesting resident ones during the spring and summer.

  • Spring



    Raptors are plentiful.  Alligators may be seen sunning on canal and pond edges.  Largemouth bass begin to move into the shallows.



    Butterflies and dragonflies are everywhere.  Both painted and indigo buntings as well as orioles, tanagers, vireos, and blue grosbeaks have returned and warblers are migrating.  Fishing is productive for most species.



    Spring migration continues.  Nesting activities are evident.  Fishing is excellent for all species.

  • Summer



    Fish begin to seek out cooler waters.  Many breeding birds are rearing young.



    Shorebirds begin to return from their nesting grounds and can be seen on pond and lake edges.  Young of the year are out practicing their skills and learning to survive.  Bass, crappie, and catfish have moved to deep water.




    Redbugs, biting flies, and mosquitoes are voracious.  Fishing is more challenging during the heat of the summer, but panfish can still be caught in refuge waters.

  • Fall



    Summer warblers begin to migrate south.   White-tailed deer rutting activity commences as bucks begin to rub the velvet off their antlers.



    Raptors, cormorants, white-throated and song sparrows, and waterfowl are arriving in numbers.  Ruby-crowned kinglets and yellow-rumped warblers are prevalent.  Catfishing is excellent.



    Bald eagles are frequently sighted around concentrations of waterfowl.   Striped bass are schooling.

  • Winter



    Large concentrations of waterfowl are present.  Sandhill cranes may be observed on the Bluff Unit.  Fishing opportunities are excellent for largemouth bass, striped bass, and catfish. 




    Waterfowl concentrations peak with Canada geese abundant on wheat fields and ducks and coots in the impoundments and bays.  Wintering grassland bird species (sparrows, juncos, and flycatchers) are abundant.  Striped bass are schooling.



    Waterfowl can be observed foraging to build energy reserves before beginning their long migrations north.  Crappie begin to move into the creeks.  Wood ducks, purple martins, and bluebirds are beginning to look for nesting cavities.