Seasons of Wildlife

Blue bead lily by Sara Giles/USFWS.


Migratory birds begin to return north, and the herring gulls set up nests in bare rock crevices in areas protected from the wind and their neighbor’s prying eyes. Hikers will enjoy spring wildflowers. Twinflower, starflower, bluebead lily, Canada mayflower and sarsaparilla are all easily seen along the trail. 


The trail may be obscured in places by vegetation such as wild columbine, fireweed, meadowsweet, glaucous honeysuckle, red-osier dogwood and common ninebark. Butterflies and other pollinators can be seen busily moving from plant to plant collecting nectar and pollinating. If the bald eagle nest on the North Point Trail is occupied the young eagle may be visible. 


As fall approaches, resident wildlife works to fatten up for the long winter months ahead. Few birds will spend the winter here but black-capped chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches and ruby-crowned kinglets are a few that do. Snowshoe hares may start their color change. 


Winter is not a good time to visit Huron National Wildlife Refuge. A trip by boat or across the ice would be treacherous and is not recommended. 

Featured Species

Beard lichens by Alaina Larkin/USFWS.

Huron National Wildlife Refuge was one of the first refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. It was established in 1905 as a breeding ground for migratory birds, specifically the herring gull which can be found nesting on the islands. As you approach the island chain, you will notice several bare rock islands. As you pass them, watch for gulls and other birds perched along the tops. You will notice many of the grayish rocks are covered in bright orange lichens. These elegant starburst lichens thrive on bird droppings. 

As you walk around the island one thing most people notice right away is the large variety of interesting lichens that populate the island. If you have never heard of a lichen before you are not alone. These normally overlooked forms of life are actually composite organisms. This means that they are a fungus and an algae or cyanobacteria that live together. The fungus creates the structure structure
Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

Learn more about structure
and the algae or cyanobacteria helps feed them both. Lichens can be found living on rocks, trees or the ground. They are completely harmless and are a sign of good air and water quality. They are also fascinating. During your visit, see if you can find a few. A walk on the North Point Trail gives visitors an opportunity to see rock tripe lichens hanging off of rock walls. Elegant sunburst and map lichens are also easy to locate on the islands rocks. Hanging from trees you may see beard lichens dangling like strange garland. Once you know what you are looking for you will likely see lichens everywhere. 

Not many mammals can be found on the islands due to their small size and the distance from the mainland. The islands are simply not easy to get to if you don’t swim or have wings. You may see snowshoe hares or at least their droppings. Bats, mice and voles are about the only other mammals found on the islands.