Embracing the Outdoors This Winter

Someone has a taste for snow

Someone has a taste for snow

Even in winter, national wildlife refuges hold infinite pleasures and surprises for nature lovers. Ducks and geese in profusion, a furtive red fox darting past, animal prints stamped clearly in the ground, the creaking of trees in the cold. So, we thought, what better way to flex your eco-adventuring muscles than to try exploring some trails by snowshoe or take a wildlife tour … on a horse-drawn sleigh. Whatever your mode of transportation, national wildlife refuges will make the outing unique (not to mention visually inspiring).

So, warm up at one of a host of special National Wildlife Refuge events – from wreath-making workshops to wildlife presentations – and make the most of this time of year.

Winter Photography Lecture and Hike
Saturday, January 4, 9:30 a.m. to noon — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Taking photos in winter can be a challenge. Learn how to set your camera to keep skin tones true and the snow from looking dingy grey. The lecture will also cover shooting techniques, shooting locations and how to stay warm and protect your gear. Bring any type of camera and warm winter clothing.

Winter Bird Count for Kids
Saturday, January 4, 8 a.m. to noon — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Young Birders in its 4th annual event for kids. The event will include presentations, an introduction to eBird, and a tally rally with hot pizza and beverages.

Game Day Sunday
Sundays, January 5 and 19, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Enjoy fun, educational games for the whole family in the Discovery Room.  Try your skill at “Bird-opoly” or perhaps you might get “Caught in a Web” with insect trivia. No reservations are required. First-come, first-served. Games for ages 5+.

Bird Walk: Winter Waterfowl and Other Birds
Sunday, January 9, 9 a.m. to noon — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Join a free, guided bird walk, featuring waterfowl, woodpeckers, sparrows, raptors and herons.  Bring binoculars or borrow them from the visitor center. No experience necessary.

All About Snakes
Saturday, January 11, 10 a.m. — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Learn about snakes from an expert in this Second Saturday nature program.

2nd Annual Festival of the Cranes  
Saturday, January 11, 8 a.m. — Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, AL
See thousands of wintering sandhill cranes as well as whooping cranes and white pelicans. Enjoy refuge tours, birding workshops, nature walks, live raptors and kids’ activities.

Marsh Bird Walk
Sundays, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Explore native birds and raptors with a guided walk at Sweetwater Marsh. Meet at the Living Coast Discovery Center (LCDC) entrance. While the refuge is free to enter, this guided tour with LCDC docents requires LCDC admission ($14).

Second Saturday Nature Programs
Saturday, January 11 — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy a free nature program about the snakes of north Texas. The program includes an indoor talk and a brief field trip on the refuge.

Photo Workshop
Saturday, January 11, 10 to 11 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Learn tips and tricks to great wildlife photography from visitor services staff. Get the inside track on the best locations for refuge photos during this auditorium program. After the program, take advantage of a special photo op.

Bird Walk
Sunday, January 12, 9 to 11 a.m. — Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge, CA
Take a free guided bird hike with Audubon Society walk leaders. Borrow binoculars; share the walk leader’s spotting scope. Bird walks usually cover a distance of about two miles. Beginners are welcome.

Wichita Mountains Eagle Watch    
January and February dates TBD, 1:30 to 4 p.m. — Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, OK
Enjoy an interpretive program at refuge headquarters, followed by a bus tour to search for bald and golden eagles. Children must be 8 or older. Wheelchair accommodations can be made by request. Reserve beginning December 31:  580-429-2151. Bring binoculars if possible.

Snowshoe Clinic 
Saturday, January 18, 9 a.m. to noon — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join Sudbury Valley Trustees and Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) of Acton, Marlborough, and Northborough for a snowshoe clinic at Memorial Forest in Sudbury. EMS will provide snowshoes and instructions for those who need them. Space is limited. Sign up early.
SVT’s Memorial Forest includes the southern unit of Assabet River Refuge. Register here.

Wildlife Viewing Tours
Saturday, January 18 to Sunday, January 19, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Let a naturalist be your guide for this family-friendly bus tour. See bison, hawks, eagles, deer and more in a winter landscape.

Bird Watching Trek
Monday, January 20, 8 to 10 a.m. — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, MN
The Wilkie Unit is a great place to see winter birds. Trumpeter swans, sucks, rough-legged hawks, bald eagles, and northern shrikes have overwintered here in the past. Bring your binoculars and favorite field guide.

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 
January 22 –27, Eastern Florida State College, Titusville, FL
The 17th annual event is billed as the largest birding and wildlife festival in the United States. . Festival includes field trips to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Eagle Watch    
On selected Saturdays in January. Dates TBD, 9 a.m. — Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, OK
After an orientation at the refuge office, take a guided bus tour to see nests through scopes. Contact: 918-773-5271.

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