National Wildlife Refuge System
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bald eagle
Powerful wings make the once-endangered American eagle a fearsome predator.
Credit: Don Pfitzer, USFWS

Events Calendar: Explore National Wildlife Refuges in Winter

Sure, it may be cold and snowy, but it's also a great time to visit a National Wildlife Refuge without the summer crowds. The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. There is a National Wildlife Refuge within an hour's drive of most major cities.

Here is just a sampling of early winter events taking place on refuges:

Celebrate the Holidays on Chesser Island
Saturday, December 12 — Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Celebrate the holiday season at the Chesser Island Homestead with a hayride, caroling and live music. Discover the region's traditions as you tour a swamp homestead decorated with traditional homemade decorations. Stay warm by the bonfire while enjoying homemade cookies and cider. For more information: or 912-496-7836.

Attend an Open House
Thursday, December 10 — Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, Minnesota
Join your friends for the holidays on the prairie at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. There will be crafts, activities and fun for the whole family. Contact with any questions. For more information: or 218-998-4480.

Fun with Turkeys
Saturday, December 12 — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois
Turkeys can see in color, and have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees.) Drop in the Visitor Center to learn more about our feathered friends. For more information: or 618-998-5933.

Take an Interpretive Van Tour
Saturday, December 12 — Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas
Help celebrate the refuge's birthday with a tour led by trained volunteers at 10:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. There's a good chance of seeing alligator, white-tailed deer, armadillo, wading birds and even whooping cranes. Reservations required. Attend a program about whooping cranes at 12:00 (noon) in the Visitor Center. Enjoy birthday cake and punch. Contact the Visitor Center at 361-286-3559 to make reservations. For more information, visit

Take Part in an Eagle Watch
January 8-9, 2010; January 15-16, 2010 — Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
Join visitors for the Annual Eagle Watch. Learn about eagles, then caravan to an “eagle hotspot” to see eagles fly in to roost for the evening. Reservations are required. Wear warm-neutral colored clothing. Bring a thermos or insulated mug. Hot chocolate will be provided. For more information: Becky Wolff 580-626-4794 ext. 3, or visit

Enjoy a Wildlife Heritage Festival
Saturday, February 6 — St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
The 4th annual Wildlife Heritage and Outdoors Festival aims to connect people to the outdoors through recreation and history. The event features more than 30 exhibitors and demonstrations, plus tours and talks. Children's activities include wagon tours, a historic lighthouse tour, a turkey calling contest, and much more. For more information: Contact Robin Will at or 850-925-6121 or visit

Attend a Wildlife Festival
Saturday, March 13 — Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Enjoy the 18th Annual Pelican Island Wildlife Festival, one of Florida's most popular wildlife events. Its purpose is to help citizens to better understand nature through environmental education and recreation. Upwards of 8,000 people come out for interpretive programs featuring live birds of prey and reptiles, pontoon boat and kayak tours to Pelican Island, live music, environmental exhibitors and children's activities. For more information: Contact Joanna Webb at or 772-562-3909 ext. 258 or visit

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