Seasons of Wildlife

Gray Catbird 512x312

Over 180 breeding, resident, and migratory birds can be found at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge during the different seasons. Moose, elk, coyote, beaver, and river otter are among the several species of year round residents often observed during the early morning or evening hours.

  • Spring

    Yellow Warbler

    Turnbull during the spring is an exceptional time of year to see an abundance and diversity of wildflowers and wildlife. Numerous waterfowl are common during the spring migration and congregate on the 300 plus wetlands found on the Refuge. The migration usually begins in March at the time of spring break up. Tundra swans, Canada geese, northern pintails, American widgeon, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks and goldeneyes are some of the species that are often seen during this time period. The spectacular western bluebird also arrives at this time with many other migrating song birds soon to follow. The Refuge offers a plethora of wildflowers that peak in mid May. Arrowleaf balsamroot, camas, prairie star and lomatium are just a few examples of the beautiful flora found on Turnbull.

  • Summer

    Ruddy Duck Brood 150x118

    Parents of many species of animals tend their young during the summer months. Because the Refuge usually experiences hot, dry periods during this time period it is best to visit in the early morning and evening hours to get a better chance of observing waterfowl broods, elk and moose calves, and other young. Listen for the raspy screech of the Great Horned Owl young long since fledged but still dependent upon the parents throughout the summer months. Look on the larger wetlands or to the sky to see flocks of American white pelicans that frequent the Refuge during the summer.

  • Fall

    Mule Deer 150x118

    Fall months bring cool weather and cool colors. Aspen and dogwood leaves turn buttery yellow, gold and crimson and provide a warm contrast to the dry grassland. Mule and white-tailed deer bucks spar to test strength and endurance, and elk bulls can be frequently heard bugling. During the fall, tundra swans are often observed on the open water of the larger wetland sloughs. Redhead, gadwall, mallard, Canada geese, and other waterfowl and water birds may also be observed.

  • Winter

    Coyote 150x118

    Several species of birds and mammals are year round residents at the Refuge.  Hairy and downy woodpeckers, northern flickers, 3 species of nuthatches, and red crossbills are a few of the songbirds often observed during the cold winter months. Look and listen for other wildlife signs including animal tracks in the snow that tell their own wintry story.