U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

20834 E. 940 Rd
Butler, OK   73625 - 5001
E-mail: washita@fws.gov
Phone Number: 580-664-2205
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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  Wildlife and Habitat

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The restless waterfowl flocks attract instant attention, but sharp-eyed wildlife viewers will notice sandhill cranes along the shorelines and in fields in fall. As many as 3,000 may pass through in early November. White pelicans drop in as well to pursue fish in Foss Reservoir before flapping southward. Bald eagles find the open, geese and duck-filled waters good hunting grounds each winter.

Swainson's hawks prey on small rodents in refuge fields to replenish their energy for the long flight to South America. Bird watchers have spotted as many as 200 in a field in early October!

When reservoir levels drop to expose mudflats close to river inlets, migrating shorebirds take advantage of a fall rest stop. American avocets probe the mud for crustaceans, joined by marbled godwits, killdeer, long-billed dowitchers, and sandpipers. Look for shorebirds again in spring.


When sandhill cranes fly through in spring, refuge staff always look closely to see if they are joined by a pair of endangered whooping cranes. America's tallest bird sometimes graces the refuge fields with its presence in spring, and occasionally in fall.

In early May, pairs of Mississippi kites, neotropical migratory birds fresh from a winter in South America, build their stick nests high in trees along watercourses. Unlike most birds of prey, these slim-winged birds thrive mostly on a diet of insects pursued in flight.

The scissor-tailed flycatcher winters south of the border and nests at Washita NWR as well. Watch for Oklahoma's state bird sporting its showy, split tail from a high-wire perch.

Summer features cliff and barn swallows nesting under bridges, snowy egrets wading in the shallows, and resident red-headed and red-bellied woodpeckers drumming in the forests. Roadrunners dash by the headquarters office.

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