Wildlife Calendar


January - mid-March:

Winter migrants (e.g. rough-legged hawks and snow buntings) present if snow isn't too deep

Sharp-tailed grouse feeding along roadsides and in birch and aspen

Good time to look for tracks


Mid-March - early April:

Flowages begin to open

Otters and muskrat using ice adjacent to open water

First ducks arrive

Concentrations of eagles and gulls on the ice eating winter killed fish

Sharp-tailed grouse begin displaying



Eagles being nesting

Heavy use of refuge fields by deer

Spring peepers, chorus frogs, and wood frogs calling

Geese begin nesting

American bitterns calling from the marshes

Sandhill cranes arrive


Mid-April - early May:

Osprey return and begin nesting

Trumpeter swans return

Peak numbers of waterfowl

Great blue herons begin nesting

Peak of sharp-tailed grouse display

First prairie flowers

First goose broods hatch

Leopard frogs, toads, and tree frogs calling

Loons return and begin nesting

Overwintering butterflies including Mourning Cloaks and commas appear on warm days
Olympia Marbles and the first of the Blues emerge
Duskywing Skippers take flight


Mid-May - early June:

First fawns appear

All resident birds have returned

Peak display of prairie flowers

Goose broods everywhere

Blandings and painted turtles nesting

Early migrants including American Ladies and Monarchs may be seen
Elfins and the first of the Grass skippers take flight
Swallowtails and many brushfoots emerge
The first flight of the Karner blue butterfly begins


June - July:

Eagle and osprey raising young

Male ducks forming large flocks

Non-breeding flocks of sandhill cranes using sedge marshes

Occasional pelicans and Caspian terns using the larger flowages

Big bluestem grass beginning to dominate the prairies

Many duck and goose broods

Grass skippers hit their full numbers.
Satyrs rotate appearances
Big Frittilary take to the skies. (late june/july)
Hairstreaks take flight (late june/july)
Second burst of Karners (july)
Second flight of Mottled Duskywings (july)


August -early September:

Young birds fledging

Concentrations of great blue herons and great egrets feeding in shallow bays

Early migrating shorebirds feeding on mudflats

Young eagles fledging

Leonards skippers.
Butterfly numbers decline



Peak numbers of blue-winged teal and wood ducks

Duck population increasing

Sandhill crane and goose populations building

Peak of hawk and warbler migration

Many shore birds present

First eagle concentrations

Fall prairie plants still in bloom


Early -mid-October:

Peak numbers of diving ducks (e.g. scaup, ringnecks, bufflehead, hooded mergansers)

Sandhill cranes and Canada geese in refuge fields

Peak number of bald eagles on Refuge Extension and Phantom Lake

First hard frost turns prairie golden brown


Mid-late October:

Peak numbers of Canada geese and sandhill cranes

Overall duck numbers decreasing but still many diving ducks

Eagles still present

Peak fall colors



Ducks leave after first hard freeze

Sandhills and Canada geese still at peak numbers (weather dependent)

Winter migrants arrive


Mid-November - December:

All flowages frozen

Some geese and eagles may over-winter if water is available.


Get more seasonal updates from local observations at Polk Burnett Outdoors 






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