Seasons of Wildlife
Resident wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep can be seen year-round. Migratory birds can be spotted at the refuge during the spring and fall migrations.
Scanning the horizon, the desert can appear to be devoid of animal life. Yet upon closer inspection, it reveals burrows among bushes, rocks and on the open plains - homes to badgers, foxes, ground squirrels, pocket mice, and kangaroo rats. The vast desert environment is home to numerous mammal species, the majority of which are nocturnal and forage at night while the temperatures are cooler.
Most desert mammals, particularly the smaller ones, have adapted to survive with little water and receive needed moisture from plant material. Water conservation is an absolute necessity to desert mammals like the ringtail and mountain lion. Larger animals like desert bighorn sheep and mule deer cope with extreme temperature during the day by staying within mountain caves and, in the case of the mule deer, finding shelter under desert trees and overhanging banks. A lucky visitor might catch a glimpse of an endangered Sonoran pronghorn. Bats, the only true flying mammals, find caves, crevices, and mines ideal places to roost and are rarely seen in the daylight.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge supports numerous amphibians and reptiles. The elusive and venomous Gila monster is the largest land lizard native to the United States and might be spotted while driving or hiking on a cool morning on the refuge. The western diamondback rattlesnake, chuckwalla, desert horned lizard, desert iguana, and the red-spotted toad are also common refuge residents.
The refuge provides important habitat for a variety of birds. White-winged doves can be seen feeding on the saguaro’s red fruit while cactus wrens safely nest within the teddybear cholla, taking advantage of the cactus’ sharp spines for protection. Visitors may catch a glimpse of northern flickers, canyon towhees, phainopeplas, or Gambel’s quails near water sources and, high above, turkey vultures or golden eagles can occasionally be seen soaring.