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Numerous species of birds migrate through or reside at Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). As many as 20 Bald Eagles and over 200,000 waterfowl may congregate on the Refuge during fall migration, and well over 275 bird species have been observed on the Refuge since 1975.  A 201 KB PDF bird list is downloadable here.

  • Marsh Birds

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    Fifteen marsh bird species can be found on the Refuge, seven of which nest here.  Colonial nesters like white-faced ibis, black-crowned night heron, cattle egret and Great blue heron nest in area lakes that have abundant cattail for nesting sites.  A small rookery of Double-crested Cormorants can be observed on Gimlet Lake.

  • Shorebirds

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    Thirty-two different species of shorebirds can be found at Crescent Lake NWR. Six species nest on the Refuge including Long-billed Curlews, Upland Sandpipers, Willets, American Avocets, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Killdeer. Peak migrations occur in May and September with 1,000 individuals using the Refuge daily.

    Upland Sandpipers and American Avocets are the most common nesters with 20-35 pairs using the Refuge. Long-billed Curlew range from 10-20 pairs annually with historical estimates ranging in the hundreds. It is hoped that our use of prescribed fire and grazing will provide the interspersion of habitats needed for curlew. 

  • Waterfowl

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    Thirty-one species of waterfowl can be found on the Refuge, fifteen of which nest here. The most common nesting species include Canada Geese, Mallards, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, Northern Pintails, Redheads, and Ruddy Ducks. Trumpeter swan have nested on several area lakes including the current nest at Gimlet Lake.

    Migration begins in March, peaking in early April with approximately 20,000 birds utilizing the Refuge daily. Fall migration runs from late September through October with Refuge populations averaging approximately 15,000 birds daily.

    Annual pair counts average 860 pairs comprised of approximately 75% dabblers. In 2011, there were 963 pairs on the Refuge (up significantly from the 2006 count of 466 pairs, the lowest count in the past ten years). The fluctuation in waterfowl numbers may be attributable to the ongoing cyclic dry and wet conditions of the past 5-6 years and extremely dry conditions in 2006.

    Blue-winged Teal and Mallards are the primary nesters at Crescent Lake NWR. Historically, nest success is poor at 5-7% using the Mayfield success index. Recently implemented habitat management treatments have shown promise for providing the 15-20% Mayfield nest success needed to sustain breeding populations.

    Crescent Lake NWR annually produces Canada goose goslings in nesting tubs.

  • Other Birds

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    Excluding waterfowl, shorebirds, and marsh birds, 201 species of “other birds” have been documented at Crescent Lake NWR. These include gulls, terns, raptors, gallinaceous birds, and passerines. Sharp-tailed Grouse use approximately 30 different leks on the Refuge with 200-250 males counted each spring.

    Bald eagles have nested on both Crescent Lake and North Platte Refuges since early 1990's with 3 nest sites currently active.