Seasons of Wildlife


Visiting the refuge is rewarding year-round. Each season is filled with the excitement of different wildlife viewing opportunities.

  • Spring


    Wake up! In spring animals that lay dormant over the winter begin to wake up, as old friends that migrated south arrive. The refuge becomes very lively as choruses of wood frogs and spring peepers sing mating songs, and colorful warblers flit and flutter around the refuge. Chipmunks and ground squirrels scamper around on their never ending search for food. Use the spotting scopes at the observation deck to watch waterfowl while listening to them fill the air with their calls. Visitors at this time may be lucky enough to see the mating dance of the sandhill crane. 

  • Summer


    Spring and summer are the best times of year to view wildlife and their young. Turtles loaf on logs soaking up the sun while busy beavers build elaborate dams. Black terns zip and dart above the water as great blue herons and great egrets stand on the shoreline fishing for food. Picturesque flowers fill the prairies where monarch butterflies flutter to milkweed plants and songbirds search for seeds. Take a drive or bike along our prairies edge tour loop and hike or bike along the dikes and trails to catch a glimpse of the ever changing excitement, here at the refuge. 

  • Fall


    As leaves turn to beautiful fall colors, wildlife begins preparing for winter. Migratory birds and monarch butterflies anticipate winter food shortages and start their long journeys to their wintering grounds. They flock to the refuge along their way to relax and gain sustenance. Monarchs fly from as far north as Canada, all the way to Mexico where they will over winter. A new generation will somehow find its way back to their northern ancestral home in spring. Deer sightings become more prevalent in fall as they enter their mating season. Discover frogs at the refuge soaking up their last bit of sun rays before snuggling under mud and fallen leaves to stay warm. Observe squirrels and chipmunks scurry to find and store food to eat in the winter months.

  • Winter


    Don't let the cold weather and snow cover fool you. There is still a lot of action on the refuge. Animal tracks in fresh snow tell a story of their own. Spot otter slides plummet into open icy water, coyote and fox tracks following their prey, and elaborate mouse tunnels under the snow. Raptor birds become easier to spot in barren landscapes with less leaf cover. Shorter daylight hours and lower prey abundance mean that animals will be out hunting more during daylight hours. Snowshoe or cross-country ski our trails (not groomed) and see what animal activity you observe.