National Wildlife Refuge System
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May 2014 Events

volunteer restore habitat
A dragonfly alights on a blossom at Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, NH. Golf cart tours at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, WI, on May 1, 15 and 17 will focus on dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies.
Credit: Matt Poole/USFWS


Kid-Friendly Hikes
Every Saturday, 9 a.m. — Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK
Enjoy guided hikes for the whole family. Meet at the refuge visitor center.


Golf Cart Tours
May 1, 15, and 17, 7:45 to 10 a.m. — Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, WI
Travel silently through the refuge and experience its beauty. Look for migratory birds, native plants, dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies. Bring your camera and binoculars.  Binoculars are available to borrow.


Children’s Adventure Day
May 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE
Entertain children with a range of nature-based games and activities, including a visit from the Refuge System’s blue goose. Children can have fun learning about bird migration, the monarch life cycle, animal tracks, fish prints, archery, dip netting and more. Activities are geared for children from toddler age to age 11.         


Bird Walk
May 3, 8 to 11 a.m. — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Enjoy a guided bird walk. Check out new arrivals and see what winter species are still enjoying the refuge. Binoculars are available to borrow. Walks are weather-dependent.


Canoe Trip
May 3, 7:30 a.m. — Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, TN
Enjoy a two-hour float on the Goose Pen Trail. Floats take place water-level permitting. Bring your own kayak or canoe and life jacket. Some boats are available for borrowing. Register: 731-538-2481.

Horseshoe Crab Rescue  
May 4, 11 a.m. — Kimbles Beach, NJ
See the spring horseshoe crab spawn and join the Friends of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge in helping overturned crabs back on their feet. Learn about the crabs’ importance to the Delaware Bay. Falling crab numbers spell trouble for shorebirds like red knots, for the fishing industry and for health professionals, who use a substance in crab blood to detect bacterial contaminants.


Plant Walk
May 4, 1 to 3 p.m. — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA           
Join a plant expert in looking for and identifying plants. Meet at the visitor center.


Refuge Ramble
May 4, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Enjoy an informal guided walk around the refuge. Meet at the Helen Fenske Visitor Center.


Magnificent Whooping Crane Month
Throughout May — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Enjoy a host of activities celebrating the rare birds that the refuge is helping to breed and recover. Compare your height to that of a full-grown crane. Learn how cranes grow from an egg to an adult. See videos and puppet shows about cranes. All programs and activities are free; donations to the Adopt-A-Whooper Program are tax deductible. Some activities require advanced registration: 301-497-5887.


Monthly Concord Conservation Coffees
May 6, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. — Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Attend an informal gathering and information exchange between town natural resources and other interested staff and board members and local environmental leaders, organizations, naturalists, and interested citizens.


Butterfly-Dragonfly Walks
May 7, 14, 21, and 28, 10 a.m. to noon — Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Look for Santa Ana’s amazing and unique butterfly species on this guided walk. Explore different refuge trails and habitats in search of different species. The refuge has binoculars you can borrow.


Birding Festival
May 9 — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Enjoy guided birding hikes, bus and boat tours, kids’ activities, bird banding demos, live birds of prey and special exhibits.


Monthly Bird Walks
May 10, 8 to 10 a.m. — Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, WI
Hone your birding skills by joining avid birders in exploring the refuge. Birders of all ages and skill levels are welcome.


Full Moon Guided Canoe Trip
May 10, 7 to 9 p.m. — Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Enjoy a guided moonlight canoe tour through part of the refuge interior.  Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants and bring a flashlight and bug spray. All canoes must be rented ($32) from Loxahatchee Canoeing. Reservations required: 561-733-0192


Wetlands, Wildflowers & Wonder
May 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Celebrate the refuge’s 50th anniversary with food, fun and festivities. Enjoy a guided van ride and nature tour of Pigeon Butte; a “Now & Then” photo exhibit; a children’s scavenger hunt; historic tours, live music and more. A buffet lunch is available for $5. Kids under 5 eat free.


Wings Over Muscatatuck
May 10, all day — Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, IN
Enjoy this daylong program featuring live hawks, owls and eagles, as well as bird banding, kids’ activities, bird walks and guided bird tours. There will also be a guided tour of nearby Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge.


Spring Celebration of Nature
May 10, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Take a 7 a.m. bird tour on Mahnomen Trail. See live birds, reptiles, amphibians and a porcupine. Enjoy a Friends plant sale and kids nature crafts.


International Migratory Bird Day
May 10, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Enjoy a full day of activities to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Bird walks leave at 7, 8, 9 and 10 a.m. A photo walk is at 3 p.m. Bald Eagle family games are in the visitor center.  Binoculars are available to borrow first come, first served.


May Bird Walk
May 10, 8 to 10 a.m. — Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Join a free morning bird walk on the Platte River Trail. Loaner binoculars will be available at the trailhead. Birding may continue if there is enough interest. For more information, call 320-632-1575.


Hooked on Fishing
May 10, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Patriot Lake, Galloway Township, NJ
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Galloway Township will hold their 11th annual fishing derby for children. Registration is required: 609-652-1665


Lost Mound Birding Tours
May 10 and 18, 1 to 5 p.m. — Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, WI
Journey through portions of the Lost Mound Unit, formerly known as the Savanna Army Depot, which contains the largest remnant of sand prairie/sand savanna in Illinois. Look beyond the military relics and you might glimpse a loggerhead shrike, blue grosbeak or an upland sandpiper.


Mother’s Day
May 11, 8 a.m. am — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Join mom on a bird walk, starting in the visitor center. Binoculars are available for loan at the front desk.  The program may last up to three hours, but you can leave for that brunch reservation at any time! Walk is weather-dependent.


Mother’s Day Beginning Bird Watching
May 11, 9:30 to 11 a.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Spend time today birding with mom. After an indoor slideshow teaches you to recognize some species often seen here, borrow binoculars and take a walk to try out your new skills. All ages are welcome. Reservations: 408-262-5513 ext. 104.


Nature Walk
May 11, 3 to 5 p.m. — Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Stroll along unfolding ferns and wildflowers. Join a local naturalist in an exploration of the refuge. Meet at the information kiosk by the parking lot in Concord. Questions? 978-760-1933.


75th Anniversary Celebration
May 16, 7 p.m. — Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
In honor of the refuge’s 75th anniversary, attend one of a series of spring “Evenings at Forsythe” lectures, focusing on different aspects of the refuge.


Hike with a Ranger
May 17, 9 to 11 a.m. — San Diego National Wildlife Refuges, CA
Take a guided interpretive hike to learn about San Diego’s biologically diverse native habitats and what the refuge is doing to protect them. This hike is along the Par 4 Drive Trail, and focuses on native bee pollinators. Please bring water, sturdy hiking shoes, binoculars and a sketchbook. Some binoculars can be borrowed.


Bird Walk
May 17, 9 a.m. to noon — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Improve your birding skills and learn to identify spring migrants. Bring binoculars or borrow ours. Walk starts at the visitor center.


Kids’ Fishing Clinic
May 17, 9 a.m. to noon — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Introduce a child to fishing. Learn how to tie knots and where to fish at the refuge’s lakes. Free. Reservations are required: 303-289-0930. Children must be accompanied by an adult.


Nature Photo Walk
May 17, 9 to 11 a.m. — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Join an expert photographer on refuge trails. Learn tips to improve your shots of birds and butterflies. Bring your camera. The program meets at the Route 420 end of the visitor center in the gravel lot. The walk is weather dependent.


Bird Festival
May 17 — Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Attend the refuge’s biggest annual event. The 19th annual Tualatin River Bird Festival is a free family-friendly celebration that includes a live bird show, a Native blessing by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, an archery clinic, bird banding demos, decoy painting, guided walks, a photo exhibit and more. Shuttle buses will run continuously from offsite parking to the refuge. Check Friends of Tualatin River Refuge for a complete schedule of events.


Twilight Marsh Walk
May 17, 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Experience the salt marsh at twilight on an easy stroll along Tidelands Trail (1.3 miles). Discover the sights, sounds and smells of the refuge as night descends. Not suitable for young children. Register: or call 510-792-0222 ext. 362. (Fremont)


International Migratory Bird Day
May 17, 7 a.m. — Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, VT
Join an orientation at refuge headquarters followed by a bird count and tally. After lunch, join species counts that will continue on refuge trails and waterways, or hear a speaker talk on a bird-related topic.  The theme for this year’s celebration is “Why Birds Matter” (Benefits of Birds to Humans and Nature). Register: 802-868-4781


Youth Fishing Day
May 17, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Introduce a child age 15 or under to the joy of fishing. Staff and volunteers will teach children to cast. Poles and bait provided. More information: 573-847-2333.


Elk Fest
May 17-18 — Jackson, WY
Attend a lively outdoor festival that includes the auctioning of thousands of pounds of antlers shed by wintering elk at National Elk Refuge. Staff and volunteers and Boy Scouts collect the antlers as they start dropping in early to mid-March. Removing antlers reduces damage to tractors, trailers and other equipment used during the winter by refuge staff. Eighty percent of the auction proceeds are donated toward elk management and habitat enhancement on the refuge.


Meet the Swallow Family
May 18, 1 to 2 p.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Join a two-mile hike to learn about swallows. Discover how young swallows learn to fly and catch their meals before they embark on a 5,000-mile journey to a jungle they have never seen before.


Down East Spring Birding Festival
May 23-26, all day — Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, ME
Come out for guided hikes and birding expedition, self-guided tours, school field trips, and live bird demonstrations by the Chewonki Foundation.  Explore down east habitats: open fields, boreal forests, wetlands, coastal and inland waters. 

Endangered Species Day
May 24, 10 a.m. to noon — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
The turtles are back! Come learn about endangered species and welcome home the head-start turtles. Helen Fenske Visitor Center


Bike the Refuge
May 24, 10 to 11 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Pedal your way along a six-to-eight-mile ride through refuge grasslands, wetlands and woodlands, spotting wildlife with a naturalist. Fact, puncture-proof tires are recommended. A helmet is required. Reservations are required: 303-289-0930. Children must be accompanied by an adult.


Guided Hike
May 24, 8:15 to 11:15 a.m. — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Join a two-mile guided hike along a portion of the Canyon Trail. Explore a sculpted canyon in the Chihuahuan Desert and look for signs of life adapted to this unique environment. Meet at the Canyon Trailhead along Hwy1. Please do not bring pets.


Bay Bike Ride

May 24, 10:30 a.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge, CA - Fremont
Take an 11-mile guided bike ride along Marshlands Road and on the Shoreline Trail to observe birds and the occasional leopard shark. Pass through salt marsh, salt pond and bay habitat. Hybrid bicycles recommended. Helmets are required. Recommended for more experienced bicyclists. Program cancels if it rains the day before. Register: or 510-792-0222 ext. 362


Butterfly and Bird Walk
May 31, 9 a.m. to noon — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Join a free, volunteer-guided butterfly and bird walk. Bring binoculars or borrow them from the visitor center.


Historic Plants along the Wilderness Area’s Orange Trail
May 31, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act by learning about the refuge wilderness area. Meet at the Helen Fenske Visitor Center or at the trailhead at the end of White Bridge Road.


Spring Butterfly Tour
May 31, 10 a.m. to noon — Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Meet your guide at the Mahnomen Trail.


Fossils and Flumes
May 31, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Fossils and flumes are used to teach children about the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. Park Ranger Jose Garcia brings fossils from Triassic wetlands he collected in eastern Montana to show the similarities to today’s wetlands, and to explain their function in nature. Interactive flumes allow for a hands-on experience of how wetlands protect the surrounding area from flooding. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Reserve: 510-792-0222 ext. 141.

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Last updated: April 30, 2014