Wildlife & Habitat

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

    Yellow-rumped warbler

    The yellow-rumped warbler represents the harbinger of spring on the refuge. One of the first to arrive in the spring with their dazzling mix of yellows on their throat, sides and rump offer birdwatchers a visual delight! From late April to mid-May is a high point for visitors who come to Trempealeau NWR to watch the spring warbler migration. This great diversity of species is a response to the variety of habitats on and near the refuge. 

    Want to know what is being observed on the refuge? Are you planning your birding destination, then tap into our recent bird sightings to find out what other birders are reporting here on the refuge and across North America.

  • Sandhill Crane

    Sandhill Crane

    Sandhill cranes can be seen dancing in the spring breeding season. A sandhill crane does not breed until it is two to seven years old. Mated pairs stay together year round, and migrate south as a group with their offspring. There are usually 6 to 10 nesting pairs on the refuge each year. Once the young colts have fledged you can see the cranes traveling in family groups. Cranes feed mostly on grains, seeds, some insects, other invertebrates and small vertebrates in the marshes and fields. Their signature trumpeting call is heard throughout the refuge spring, summer and fall.

  • Black Tern

    Baby black tern

    A small graceful bird, the social black tern nests on the refuge. During the breeding season, the distinctive plumage, black head and dark grey wings is like no other. Black terns breed in colonies on floating mats of vegetation. This refuge is home to one of the largest colonies of black terns in Wisconsin. Flocks of a few to hundreds can be seen from the observation deck in mid-June zipping and darting above the water and quickly diving with their bills pointed at the water seizing insects at the water surface.

  • Oak Savannas

    Oak Savanna

    Today, the oak savannas of the Midwest are considered by some to be the world’s most threatened communities. A savanna is generally defined as a plant community where trees are present but are sparse. The open nature of the oak savanna results in the establishment of numerous kinds of prairie plants, both grasses and forbs. Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge has remnants of prairie/oak savanna habitats and management objectives support restoration efforts to maintain and establish additional oak savanna landscapes.

  • Marshes


    Marsh and aquatic vegetation occupies almost half of the refuge. Wetlands provide a multitude of ecological, economic and social benefits. They provide habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of plants. Wetlands are also important landscape features because they hold and slowly release flood water and snow melt, recharge groundwater, act as filters to cleanse water of impurities, recycle nutrients, and provide recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people.

  • Bottomland Forests

    Bottomland forest

    Bottomland hardwood forests cover about 16% of the Refuge. Bottomland forests that are located along rivers are generally linear in shape. These linear corridors serve as pathways wildlife can use to move from one habitat patch to another. The dense vegetation of these forests provides cover to hide from predators and an escape from the sun during hot temperatures. Restoration of the forest habitat can make these areas more attractive to species like the Red-shouldered hawk and cerulean warbler. Bottomland hardwood forests are rich, diverse ecosystems that benefit the environment, people and wildlife.