It’s time to bundle up and take that walk in the woods. Crunchy leaves underfoot, a golden canopy overhead – paths like this one at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota can be found throughout much of the country right now. Surrounded by loved ones or escaping for a few solitary moments, America’s public lands provide incredible places to walk off the holiday stress and delicious meals. Photo of a gorgeous fall scene at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge by LuGene Peterson.
Soar over the Aleutian Range, and take in the incredible textures of Becharof National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Alaska. Adjacent to Katmai National Park & Preserve, this wonderland nurtures one of Bristol Bay’s largest sockeye salmon runs, part of the foundation for the local economy. Some six million sockeye salmon run here annually, supporting a wide array of wildlife while contributing to ancient cycles. At a size difficult to comprehend, the refuge protects 1,157,000 acres and includes an active volcano, unusual geological features, historically significant landmarks, and a federally designated Wilderness. Photos by Jeff Jones, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
It turns out, the golden views at Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge are what you find at the end of the rainbow. This Colorado wildlife refuge offers glimpses of both the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Great Sand Dunes National Park in the distance. The auto-tour route between April and early fall allows a drive, in solitude, amongst wetlands home to dozens of bird species. Along the Rio Grande River Trail, you will see a wide variety of habitats, from lush grasses to dense stands of willow, to towering cottonwood trees. Photo courtesy of Patricia Henschen.
Get beary comfy! It’s National Lazy Day!
Photo of a Kodiak brown bear napping at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska by Lisa Hupp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Today is International Owl Awareness Day, a day that’s especially important because owls are fantastic at disguise — making awareness of them challenging. Fierce hunters, owls fly silently and have excellent hearing and eyesight. There are 19 species of owls found in North America and plenty of opportunities to spot these birds on public lands or in your backyard.
Burrowing owl (owl in the photo) awareness facts:
– They hiss when frightened to mimic a snake
– They will sometimes decorate their burrows with dung to attract their favorite food, dung beetles
– Sometimes they dig their own burrows and sometimes they’ll use the burrows dug by other animals like tortoises or prairie dogs.
Whoo has seen an owl on a national park, national wildlife refuge or any other public lands? We want to know!
Photo of a burrowing owl at Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge in California by Sarah Chan (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The magnificent sky reflects a blend of colors on the water at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. A patient, great blue heron fishes as the sun sets, reminding us that the crepuscular hour is an excellent time to watch for wildlife. With four land trails and over 20,000 acres open for public recreation, the refuge has activities for visitors all year long. Paddling, hiking, fishing or spotting bald eagle nests are just a few reasons people return to this compelling place time and time again. Photo by Zolt Levay (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The mornings and evenings are alive with the songs of birds and other wildlife at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, a vital oasis in the high desert of Nevada. Located 75 miles from Reno, it’s some of the only water around, providing a refreshing marsh for a variety of birds and other wildlife. Egrets, herons, hawks, owls, waterfowl and shorebirds all thrive there and you may even see coyotes, mule deer, or pronghorn as you explore the area. Photo by Marie Nygren, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina is a popular family spot – for black bears! Spotting not two or three, but FOUR cubs is a special treat. Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge has what is believed to be one of the largest concentrations of black bear found in the southeastern United States. It’s not uncommon for visitors to see dozens of bears on a one-hour drive through the refuge. These tiny bear cubs were spotted at the end of May in an area on the refuge that grows crops for waterfowl. Feasting on blueberries and switch cane stems through the summer, the bears are majestic to watch. Please remember to be respectful of these wild animals and follow refuge signs and rules. Photo courtesy of Richard Thigpen.
In Native American legends, raccoons are often known as tricksters and mischief-makers. Highly intelligent and resourceful, raccoons are one of the most widespread mammals in North America. They have adapted to live in forests, mountainous areas, coastal marshes and even urban centers. This one was spotted hanging out at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Bill Buchanan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A new day begins, and summer’s brilliance radiates at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The sun burns through the fog and bursts through a burl oak tree on a serene Minnesota morning, casting light upon magnificent wildflowers. Goldfinches, song sparrows and yellow warblers are common to see this time of year on the refuge, and the warmth of summer brings a variety of dragonfly and damselfly species. Photo by Erik Fremstad @erikfremstad (www.sharetheexperience.org).