During the spring and fall you can see large gatherings of northern pintails using the refuge as a place to rest and feed during their migration. Pintails primarily feed by using their bill to filter out grains, seeds, weeds, aquatic insects and crustaceans from the water. The male is easily distinguished by it beautiful color pattern and long tail for which it gets its name.
Other duck species that use the refuge during the migration period include mallards, gadwalls, and teals, which usually can be seen from the entrance road. By using the viewing scopes located at the overlooks on the road to Swan Lake and on the nature trail, visitors can see other water birds like American white pelicans, Canada and greater white-fronted geese and trumpeter swans. The auto tour leads to Silver Lake, where snow geese and various diving duck species such as common mergansers, buffleheads, ring-necked ducks and lesser scaup feed and rest. Later in the spring and summer, great blue herons and great egrets are readily seen from this road.