National Wildlife Refuge System
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March 2012 Events

Return the stare, if you dare, of this great horned owl at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia and see if you can resist fascination. On March 9, owl lovers will join an Owl Prowl at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

Return the stare, if you dare, of this great horned owl at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia and see if you can resist fascination. On March 9, owl lovers will join an Owl Prowl at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

Credit: Susan Rachlin

Almost-Spring Nature Walk
Thursdays and Fridays in March, 10 a.m. to noon — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Search for signs of spring on refuge trails. All ages are welcome. Total distance: 1.5 miles.

Junior Duck Stamp Competition
March 15 mailing deadline for entries, except in South Carolina, Arizona and Ohio, with earlier e deadlines.
Students from across the country compete to create waterfowl artwork and learn about waterfowl habitat and conservation. Learn more about the contest here

Bird Art Contest
Through March — Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA
Enter the logo art contest for the 18th Annual International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) Celebration. The winning entry will be the official symbol of the refuge’s IMBD celebration on May 12. Artists may submit one or more original, pen-and-ink drawings of a migratory bird that can be seen on the refuge. Artists may pick up their artwork after the contest; drawings will not be mailed back. Deadline: Close of business, Thursday, March 30. Send artwork to Sally Bowden, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 62, Chincoteague, VA 23336. More information: 757-336-6122.

Swamp Stroll
Fridays and Sundays, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. — Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Meet a naturalist for a guided tour of the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk.  Learn about the swamp ecosystem from cypress tree knees to animals that make the swamp home. 

Wild Rides
Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Take a free, family-friendly viewing tour of the refuge along an expanded 12-mile tour route. Groups up to 20 are welcome to join in. Binoculars and cameras are recommended. Reservations required: 303-289-0930.

San Diego Bird Festival
Thursday, March 1 to Sunday, March 4 — San Diego, CA.
This annual festival features field trips to three coastal San Diego National Wildlife Refuges. Birds to see include: Brandt’s cormorant, pied-billed grebe, black-vented shearwater.

Oregon Ash Tree Planting
Saturday, March 3, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Help restore wetland forests by planting Oregon Ash trees outside the normal public access area. The planting should provide many opportunities to see wildlife such as swans, geese, sandhill cranes and hawks.

Whose Tracks Are These?
Sunday, March 4, 1 p.m. — Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, MA
How can you spot mammals in winter? Head out with Nashaway Trackers to learn to read clues in the mud, snow and elsewhere. Clues include tracks, scat, hair and broken or gnawed branches. Dress warmly; bring a snack and snowshoes if snow is deep. Children are welcome. To reserve, call Rona Balco, 978-779-2259 or email:

A group of Puddle Stompers ready to get wet and wild at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

A group of Puddle Stompers ready to get wet and wild at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Credit: USFWS

Puddle Stompers
Tuesday, March 6, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 21, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  — Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Teach tots ages one through five about the wonders of Oregon’s wet weather and the plants, animals and insects that thrive in it. Start indoors with songs and stories. Then head out on a tour, wearing raingear provided by the refuge. Reservations: 503-625-5944.

Owl Prowl
Friday, March 9, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Join a guided walk in search of great horned and barred owls.

Guided Moonlight Canoe Trip
Friday, March 9, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Enjoy a moonlight canoe tour through the refuge interior, in the northernmost reaches of the Everglades. Wear long-sleeved shirt and long pants and bring a flashlight and bug spray. Fee: $10 per person. Canoe rental required; fee includes rental. Reservations: 561-733-0192

Tundra Swan Day
Saturday, March 10, sunrise to sunset —Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
See hundreds of migratory tundra swans at this free event, hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Watch swans from your car as you drive along the refuge’s auto tour route. Before you go, pick up a map from the refuge’s Wildlife Education Center, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Brigham City.

Barn Owl F.U.N. Program
Saturday, March 10, 10:30 a.m. to noon — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Although the barn owl has one of the largest ranges of any owl, it is uncommon in southern Illinois. See a live barn owl, presented by Free Again Wildlife Rehab.

Eagle Festival  
Saturday, March 10, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
The refuge’s 12th annual Eagle Festival features free family events including live raptor programs, kids’ activities, a photography workshop, a guided bird walk, exhibits and the popular Eagle Prowls.

South Bay Salt Works Guided Nature Tour
Saturday, March 10, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, South Bay Unit, CA
On this Audubon-led tour, see the birds and other wildlife in an area of the salt ponds normally closed to the public. Learn the history of the south bay and plans for restoring the refuge. Meet in the South Bay Salt Works Parking lot at 1470 Bay Blvd. in Chula Vista, CA. No restrooms. Recent rain cancels; call the “Salt Pond Tour Hotline” to check: (858) 273-7800, ext. 107.

Refuge System Birthday
Wednesday, March 14 — Scores of refuges nationwide.
See “Happy Birthday, National Wildlife Refuge System!” above.

Soil Kitchen
Friday, March 16 to Sunday, March 18, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, PA
How safe is your soil? Bring a dried and homogenized sample to the refuge visitor center for a free testing for lead and other contaminant metals. Results can be location-anonymous. Learn strategies for dealing with and gardening in contaminated soil.

Junior Refuge Firefighter Program
Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m. to noon — Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Visit with refuge firefighters and learn what they do to help wildlife, their habitat and the refuge.  Earn a Junior Refuge Firefighter badge.  The program is designed for 3rd – 6th graders, but all are welcome. Sign up: 530-934-2801.

Saint Patty’s Stewardship Saturday
Saturday, March 17, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Go green this Saint Patty’s Day. Help the endangered pupfish by cutting cattails in the warm waters of Crystal Spring. Register:

Sprouting Surprises
Saturday, March 17, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Join a refuge naturalist on a hike to look for early signs of spring. Learn to identify some common refuge plants by their sprouts. North Tract Entrance.

Ethical Bird Photography for Beginners
Saturday, March 17, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Learn where to find wary birds, what behavior to look for, and how to ethically capture their images on digital or film cameras. You’ll need a lens extending to at least 300mm on your digital SLR or the 35mm-equivalent on your advanced point-and-shoot camera. Reservations: 408-262-5513 ext. 102.

Sense-of-Place Nature Walk
Sunday, March 18, 3 p.m. — 5 p.m. Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join in an exploration of spring's early awakening. Look for muskrats and redwings. Enjoy the sound of birdsong and the sight of fattening maple buds, which bring a red haze to the floodplain forest.

Spring Fever Wildlife Viewing Tours
Wednesday, March 21, 10 a.m. to noon
Wednesday, March 28, 10 a.m. to noon — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
See refuge newborns and the spring migrants arriving at their summer home. Reservations are required: 303-289-0930.

Wildlife Art Show & Sale
Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. —Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Attend this free annual event, featuring works of art from nationally recognized artists who specialize in portraying wildlife in the natural world. For information about a preview reception Friday, March 23, visit

Spring Woodcock Walk
Thursday, March 29, 6:30 p.m. to dusk — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Watch the elaborate mating display of the American woodcock, also known as the timberdoodle. Starting at the end of March, the male woodcock leaves its cover for open fields, where it calls to females with a series of sharp “peent”s. Then it suddenly flies up, twittering, in a widening spiral, floats briefly and dives zig-zag back to earth.

Introduction to Vernal Pools for Kids
Friday, March 30, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Find out what is so special about vernal pools and who lives there. Start indoors, then go for a short walk to a nearby vernal pool. Ages 5 and up; siblings welcome. Program will take place rain or shine.

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