Seasons of Wildlife

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No matter the time of year, there is always something new and exciting to see at Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge!

  • Winter

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    December through February is an exciting time at the refuge. Thousands of green-winged teal, American widgeon, black ducks, northern pintails, American coots, northern shovelers, ring-necked ducks, and gadwalls make the refuge their winter home. Overwintering songbirds, such as American robin, yellow-rumped warbler, the red-winged blackbird, and sparrows eat seed from native shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses. Great blue herons, American egrets, and snowy egrets are also among the cold weather sights. Black bears lumber through the marshes; white-tailed deer browse on twigs and bark. Waterfowl hunts occur in December and January. Visitors may drive or hike throughout the refuge areas not closed for wintering waterfowl. The Bell Island Pier is open for fishing.

  • Spring

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    Grasses and wildflowers green up and trees sprout leaves and begin to bloom during March, April, and May. Early flowers such as Virginia iris in ditches, red maple in forests, and black-eyed Susan along roadsides color the refuge landscape. Neotropical songbirds return from the West Indies and Central and South America to breed and nest in forested wetlands. Bear sows emerge from the forests and roam the refuge with their cubs in search of food. Visitors may drive or hike throughout the refuge areas not closed for wintering waterfowl. The Bell Island Pier is open for fishing.

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  • Summer

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    June, July, and August is the time when songbird chicks are raised and fledged. Turtles are out and about and can often be sunning themselves on the banks of and logs in ditches and ponds within the marshes.  Great blue herons, green herons, great egrets, and snowy egrets abound. Wetland and streambank plants such as pickerelweed and arrowhead bloom and adorn the area. Winged sumac and devil’s walking stick display their flowers along roadsides attracting a wide variety of pollinating insects. Visitors may drive or hike throughout the refuge. The Bell Island Pier is open for fishing.

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  • Fall

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    September, October, and November treat us to a variety of goldenrods and asters that feed pollinating insects before frost occurs. Red maple leaves turn red and swamp tupelo leaves turn purple giving the evergreen background on the refuge some variety. Fruit and seed of native plants hang on vegetation throughout the refuge. Ducks and geese begin making their way south to the refuge for a rest stop or overwinter destination. Waterfowl hunts occur in November. Visitors may drive or hike throughout the refuge areas not closed for wintering waterfowl. The Bell Island Pier is open for fishing.