The sun is high. The day is long. You can feel the heat build hour by hour. But if you think nature is dormant at national wildlife refuges because animals are stuck in the summer doldrums, think again.
On land, in the air and in the water, life is astir on refuges. You just need to know where to look. Sea turtles are nesting. Tule elk are bugling. Dragonflies are staging crazy aerial displays. Osprey chicks are hatching. Salmon are swimming upstream in a rush to spawn. Monarch butterflies are fueling up before it’s time to migrate. Here’s just a taste of what you can see and where this summer on national wildlife refuges.
- Nesting Turtles
It’s sea turtle nesting season at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and other Southeast coastal refuges. Sea Turtle Watch Programs
- Water Ballet
Mid-summer is peak dragonfly-viewing season in much of the country. Story: “Dragonfly Spotting on Refuges”
- Elk Bugling
Tule elk rut and bugling peak in August at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge and other sites in California.
- Osprey Chicks
Ospreys hatch in June at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland and other Northeast sites.
- Wood Ducklings
Wood duck broods try out their swimming strokes in the Midwest.
- Salmon Run
Salmon swim upstream in summer to spawn in Alaska rivers and streams. At Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, anglers along the Russian River eagerly await the sockeye run in June and July. At Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, salmon runs attract brown bears.
- Monarch Season
Monarch butterflies abound in summer at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa and many other refuges. Monarchs that hatch in late summer will migrate to wintering grounds in Mexico.
- Teal Time
In August, blue-winged and green-winged teal begin to arrive from the north at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas and other Southern sites.
- Wetland Birds
The wetlands at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas attract large numbers of herons and egrets in summer.
- Gator Holes
In June, alligators build nests at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Eggs hatch in August.
- Spotlight on Moths
“Moth nights” at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Texas and other refuges highlight the remarkable diversity of these under-appreciated insects.
Summer on Refuges
Natural phenomena aren’t the only reasons to look at national wildlife refuges in summer.