The interior least tern is one of more than 250 species of birds that have been found on the refuge. Least terns can be found from mid-May through late August. Special gravel nesting islands with predator exclosures have been created specifically for the terns at Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area. The project has been a great success with the terns rearing an average of more than 40 young per year.
In the summer and fall, refuge wetlands are teeming with 42 species of dragonflies and damselflies, including the commonly seen Halloween pennant. The Halloween pennant, a dragonfly named for its orange and black wings, can be seen at almost any oxbow or wetland on the refuge from mid-June through early October.
The refuge boundary includes 12,700 acres of wetlands. The majority of wetlands within the boundary are bottomland hardwood forests, characterized by woody vegetation 20 feet tall or taller. Bottomland hardwood forests are found within the floodplain of the Patoka River and its tributaries where the terrain is relatively flat and the soils are poorly drained. Typical trees of these bottomland forests include silver maple, sweetgum, swamp white oak, pin oak and shellbark hickory.
The refuge is actively restoring frequently flooded farm fields in the Patoka River bottoms to bottomland hardwood forests. To date, more than 1,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods have been planted on the refuge with the ultimate goal of maximizing species diversity and creating a contiguous belt of 13,000 acres of bottomland forest along the banks of the Patoka River within the refuge boundary.