BirdsThe drip of melting snow and the rumble of moving ice herald the return of migratory birds each spring. Soon bald eagles and osprey grace the skies while stately trumpeter and tundra swans reign over the wetlands and tiny ruby-crowned kinglets sing in the tree-tops.

The refuge's many ponds, lakes and miles of rivers support tens of thousands of nesting waterfowl. American wigeon, mallard and northern pintail are among the most common ducks. Flocks of Canada and white-fronted geese may be seen along riverbanks.

Clusters of burrows in the riverbanks belong to colonies of bank swallows. Belted kingfishers also nest there, to be near their source of food - fish.

Great horned and great gray owls may be seen along rivers and streams or heard during quiet evenings. Sandhill cranes and both red-throated and common loons add their hauntingly beautiful voices to the chorus.

In May and June the music of songbirds fills the forests and woodlands. Swainson's thrushes, yellow warblers, and many other summer migrants join the area's few dozen hearty winter residents such as ravens, gray jays and chickadees.

Mid-September marks the peak of fall migration, with large flocks of sandhill cranes and Canada geese pausing to roost on the river sandbars.

Bird Species List