Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
HIKING, WILDLIFE OBSERVATION AND BIRDING TIPS
1. Get up early. Did you know that some wildlife are most active wildlife right around dawn and dusk? This is the best time to see elusive critters like otter and beaver, night herons, and owls.
2. Walk quietly. Moving loudly or carrying on loud conversation can decrease your chances of seeing wildlife.
3. Stay downwind and don't get too close. Most species in the marsh have an excellent sense of smell. Stay downwind and avoid getting too close to wildlife. This allows great views for you, but also gives wildlife plenty of room.
4. Avoid sudden movements. Move slowly to avoid startling the wildlife to allow yourself extra time to view with your binoculars or take photos.
5. Study habitats. It makes sense to look for wildlife where they live. Study habitats before your visit to determine if you want to spend more time in the prairies looking for sparrows, or more time in the wetlands looking for wading birds.
6. Watch for crowds. Oftentimes, the easiest way to find a target bird or animal is to look for crowds of people and ask what they have seen/are viewing.
7. Be vigilant. What you are looking for is sometimes watching you! Be sure to not become too fixated on one spot and take in your entire surroundings.
8. Be prepared. Hiking and viewing wildlife in extreme heat or cold can be dangerous. Be prepared by wearing appropriate layers, sunscreen, bug spray, and taking a hat and bottle of water on your hike. Trail maps are available at the Refuge Visitor Center or kiosks at public access points on satellite properties.
9. Respect nature. Don't assume young animals are abandoned. The adults are probably just waiting for you to leave before they return to the area. Respect Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge by taking only photos and leaving only footprints.
10. Ask questions. Looking for something in particular? Stop by the Visitor Center and ask our team of knowledgeable volunteers and Refuge staff.
11. Be patient. We can tell you where you might find things, but there is no guarantee. Birds have wings. Animals have feet. Things are always changing at your wildlife refuge! Be patient and enjoy your visit.
Refuge Bird Observations
Refuge bird observations include eastern meadowlark, black tern, yellow-headed blackbird, bobolink, sedge wren, peregrine falcon, snowy owl, northern harrier, sandhill crane, osprey, short-eared owl, over 20 species of shorebirds including Wilson's phalarope and marbled godwit, and nearly all North American waterfowl species including nesting trumpeter swan.
Birding Hot Spots Through the Seasons
Every time of year is a good time to visit Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. This list will give you a good idea of where to look (and when!) for the birds that you find interesting.
April to September
SONGBIRDS AND UPLAND BIRDS
April to November
WATERFOWL AND WADING BIRDS
April to November
December to March