Wildlife Observation


In late May and June dragonflies emerge in large numbers on the refuge.  There are many species ranging in colors from bright blue, to green and red, that delight visitors.  Why not give dragonfly watching a chance? Check out some close focus binoculars and a dragonfly guide free at the front desk of the Visitor Center and take a walk on the Pine Ridge Nature Trail.  Sometimes these friendly insects will even hitch a ride on your shirt!

Tips for seeing wildlife:


  • Take your time. The people who see the most take time to stop and look, are alert, and are quiet.
  • Listen. One of the best ways to find an animal is to hear it first. Many animals are camouflaged very well and it takes a while to see them. If you hear their call you can get an approximate location, then look.
  • Watch for movement. Because they are so well camouflaged sometimes the best way to see an animal is to watch for movement. Whether it is a tree rustling when there is no breeze, a flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye, or some other signal, many times movement will betray a hidden animal.
  • Timing. Plan your trip based on what you would like to see. If you want to see migratory birds, come in the spring or fall. If you would like to see loons, swans, or other resident wildlife, the best time to visit is late spring, summer, or early fall.
  • Dawn and dusk are the best times to view wildlife. Remember the refuge is only open during daylight hours.
  • Don’t forget your binoculars or spotting scopes. If you don’t have binoculars the Visitor Center has several pairs you can borrow.
  • Look for signs of animals. Search for tracks, missing bark on trees, burrows, scat, and other signs animals have been in the area.
  • Look in edge habitats. These are areas between different types of habitats, for example where the plants meet the water, treetops, or where the forest and meadow meet. These areas are wonderful places for wildlife.
  • If you are looking for a specific type of animal, do a little research and find out where they like to live. This can help you find the right spot to search.
  • Do not disturb a wild animal! Wild animals are unpredictable and will defend themselves if they feel threatened. 
  • Be patient!

Checkouts for Wildlife Observation

The refuge offers visitors an opportunity to checkout a variety of items to assist with wildlife observation including:


  • Binoculars
  • Close-focus binoculars for getting a good look at insects like butterflies and dragonflies
  • Field guides
  • "Let's Get Outdoors" backpacks for youth
  • Snowshoes
  • Fishing poles
  • Tackle boxes


Items are available for checkout during Visitor Center May 15 to October 20 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm or during office hours in the winter Monday - Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, closed Federal holidays.