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14 Refuges: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

The early spring sun rises across the vast wetlands and lights up the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The James V. Hansen Wildlife Education Center opens at 8 a.m., but the birds have been up for hours already, their wings and their songs filling the cool air as they start their day.

Millions of birds flow in and out of the refuge from the south as spring wears on. Geese and ducks arrive in early spring, followed by shorebirds who use their long legs to wade in the wetlands looking for food.

Spring is a time of celebration and showmanship: mating season. Birds sing songs and dance and show off their feathers. Birdwatchers and school children flock to the refuge to learn about local ecology and to see the mating displays.

As summer starts, many birds leave to continue north, but over 60 species stay on the refuge to raise their babies in the quieter, hotter summer months.

Baby geese follow close to mom in May. Ducklings and baby shorebirds explore the refuge in June and July and baby western grebes cruise around Bear River atop their mothers’ backs.

Later on, the shorebirds who continued north come back on their way south again. Half a million ducks and geese arrive. Over 30,000 tundra swans spend the late fall and early winter on the refuge.

Highway 15 lights up as the winter sun sets. The cold, still air holds no sound except for car tires on pavement and the occasional screech from the hawks, falcons, and bald eagles who roam the skies of Bear River, searching for prey on the dried up and frozen wetland.

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge slumbers, waiting for the spring and its millions of birds. And as always, people who need a little refuge from the city are more than welcome to visit.

Kelly Dudzik is a freelance writer/blogger who contributes to NWRA’s Urban Refuge Program’s campaign series. This piece was written after experiencing the natural wonders of this migratory bird refuge.

Check out our piece on Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge Below! 

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge


NWRA’s Urban Refuge Program – Protecting our Conservation Future strives to reach beyond refuge boundaries to engage with and connect people of all ages to nature and our Refuge System.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2018/07/14-refuges-bear-river-migratory-bird-refuge/

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