National Wildlife Refuge Week 2016 Highlights

National Wildlife Refuge Week, celebrated each year during the second full week of October, is a great time to visit a national wildlife refuge to hike, fish, paddle or just delight in nature. Enjoy some of the many special events and festivals hosted by refuges this month. Or just come out and explore.

Check the special events calendar for Refuge Week events. Among events planned this fall:

October 8

In a rite of autumn, an elk bugles for a mate. Wichita Mountains
Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma offers bugling elk tours in the fall --
just around the time of Refuge Week.
Photo: Erwin and Peggy Bauer/USFWS

Log Cabin Day Festival, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, southern Indiana
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  
Enjoy a festival at Myers Cabin, sponsored by Muscatatuck Wildlife Society, featuring a free ham-and-bean dinner, old-time crafts, music, wildlife exhibits and children's activities. From Sunday through the following Saturday, a normally “closed” area of the refuge will be open to walk-in visitors for bird viewing.

5K Run/Walk for Wildlife, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Mayville, WI
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Celebrate Refuge Week with a race on the auto tour route. Register at 9 a.m. Event starts at 10 a.m. Pre-register here. A road rally (scavenger hunt) and other fun activities will follow the morning run/walk.

October 10 - 14

Pollinator Week at Crab Orchard, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Marion, IL
Join one or more of several free classes and activities with a pollinator focus. Celebrate bats, birds, bugs and more! Look here for more event details to come.

October 15

Wildlife Festival, Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Take in a free festival for Refuge Week. Enjoy live animals, children’s crafts, tram tours, scientific demonstrations and behind-the-scenes research tours of the U.S. Geological Society’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. See where endangered whooping cranes and sea ducks are raised and studied.

Wildlife Celebration, Red River National Wildlife Refuge , northwestern LA
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Enjoy a day full of free, wildlife-themed activities and events in honor of Refuge Week. Highlights include canoeing, archery, an animal skull-ID maze and a story trail.

October 16 - 22

Sandhill cranes gather along Nebraska's Platte River in
preparation for migration. National Wildlife Refugesare popular
stops on birds' migration route.
Photo: Larry Crist/USFWS

Ding” Darling Days, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, Florida
A week of fun activities, including free tram tours and live wildlife presentations, kicks off with Family Fun Day on Sunday, October 16. Birding, boating, paddle-boarding and kayaking activities fill the week. The 27th annual “Ding” Darling Days celebration ends Saturday, October 22, with Conservation Art Day, highlighting Jay Norwood Darling’s legacy as the first Duck Stamp artist and Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist. The 2016 festivities also celebrate Refuge Week and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Centennial.

The Big Sit!

Join this annual, international birding event — hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and held during Refuge Week. Grab a pair of binoculars and see how many birds you can spot in one day as you sit in a 17-foot diameter circle. Stay for a few minutes or a few hours. No birding experience is necessary.  Contact a refuge near you to see if it is participating:  Here are a few examples:

October 8

Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Williamstown, WV
Sunrise to sunset at the refuge visitor center

October 9

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, Philadelphia, PA
5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Observation tower, Dike Road

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, southern IN
Sunrise to sunset, Endicott Observation deck

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL panhandle
7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Lighthouse observation deck

Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sumner, MO
Sunrise to sunset, Observation deck

October 15

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty, TX
7 a.m. until sunset
Champion Lake Public Use Area pier