Whooping cranes are the tallest and some of the most rare birds in North America. Adults are mostly white and stand almost five feet tall with a wingspan of seven feet. Never an abundant species, the total population dwindled to a low of 16 birds in 1941 due to hunting pressures and habitat loss. Now there are about 600 in the world. These three adults and one juvenile were spotted at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas. Photo by Barry Jones, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Who is a fan of birds? Whether you are a beginner or a veteran birder, you can find a wondrous variety of birds in Saguaro National Park in Arizona. From birds that are adapted to the extremes of the desert, to birds that prefer the tall pines of the mountains, over 200 species of birds live in or migrate through the park. This owl family looks quite at home in the crook of a large saguaro. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Johnson.
National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great time to remind everyone that refuges are some of the best places for birdwatching. One of the most thrilling birds to spot is the bald eagle. A majestic symbol of our nation, bald eagles are found in every state except Hawaii. Males and females work together to build large nests, and you’ll often see them hunting over open fields and water. This one just left its perch at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. Photo by Curtis Gibbens (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors. Urban wildlife refuges provide an easy escape to nature for millions of Americans every year. Within view of Denver’s skyscrapers, visitors to Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge can see bison, bald eagles, snow geese and sunsets. It’s just one of many resources for city dwellers. Find more: www.fws.gov/urban/wildlifeRefuges.php Sunset photo by Dave Showalter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Tomorrow is National Hunting and Fishing Day. Held every year since 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrates outdoor sports, and how hunters and anglers contribute to conservation. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned sportsman or woman, your public lands are some of the best places to wet a line or bag the big one. Just ask the people at Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, a very popular place for outdoor sports. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Located along the northeast coast of Massachusetts, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge provides feeding, resting and nesting habitat for a wide variety of migratory birds. The refuge includes more than 4,700 acres of diverse habitats – from sandy beaches and dunes to cranberry bogs, maritime forests and freshwater marshes. The most abundant habitat on the refuge is salt marsh, one of the most productive ecosystems in nature. It’s a great place to see your favorite birds as the fall migrations begin. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Today marks the 115th anniversary of the creation of the first national wildlife refuge at Pelican Island in Florida and the birth of the national wildlife refuge system. From Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge on the Atlantic to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific, over 550 wildlife refuges – many of them close to urban centers – protect an incredible array of wildlife and landscapes. Find a refuge near you. Photo of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia by Heather Bautista (www.sharetheexperience.org).