Birding on Refuges

Tri-colored herons
Tri-colored herons
Credit: Jim Williams
Spectacular Birds

To the uninitiated, birding may seem just too difficult – all that squinting through binoculars, trying to distinguish subtle marks on tiny creatures. There's an easy solution: Begin with the big birds – hard to miss for their size and often dramatic plumage. National wildlife refuges across the country offer great places to find them.

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Birding Midwest Refuges

Western meadowlark at
Wichita Mountains
National Wildlife Refuge, OK
Credit: J/K Hollingsworth

Add to your life list of birds or become a first-time birder at National Wildlife Refuges in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri. Warblers and meadowlarks, pelicans and peregrines are all waiting for you.

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Birding Resources from National Wildlife Refuges


Snow Geese at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE
Snow Geese at Bombay Hook National Wildlife
Refuge, DE
Credit: Jamie Richie, USFWS

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA – Basic Birding(337 KB PDF)

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE – Bird Guide (112 KB PDF)

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA – Junior Birders (350 KB PDF)


Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, AL – checklist(151 KB PDF)

Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge, AL – checklist (94 KB PDF)

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, NC – checklist(178 KB PDF)


Makoke Birding Trail including a site at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA (2.7 MB PDF)

Yellow-headed blackbird
Credit: David Menke, USFWS

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, OH – Refuge Map (580 KB PDF)


Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, TX – checklist (264 KB PDF)

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, TX – bird guide (113 KB PDF) visual bird checklist (392 KB PDF)

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM – checklist (225 KB PDF)

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, AZ (186 KB PDF) – checklist

Pacific Northwest

Sand Hill Crane
Credit: USFWS

Seabirds of the Pacific Northwest – brochure

Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex – wildlife page

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, OR birding brochure (2.8 MB PDF)

Sun and Sage Loop of the Great Washington State Birding Trail (Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge)