There are greater than 550 nationwide wildlife refuges in the US, with a minimum of one in each state and one inside an hour drive of virtually each main American metropolis. Many have been particularly established for migratory birds and are strategically positioned alongside one of many 4 main North American migration flyways. Others have been established to guard particular fowl species or subspecies.
However they main defend land, a necessary however dwindling avian useful resource. Not like nationwide parks, nationwide forests, nationwide monuments, and different federal lands which should stability competing pursuits corresponding to recreation and useful resource extraction, nationwide wildlife refuges are legally required to be maintained for the preservation of wildlife.
Consequently, there are quite a few wonderful birding hotspots within the system. Many refuges have trails, boardwalks, viewing towers, and/or auto routes, and a number of other are concerned in birding festivals. Each birds and birders flock to nationwide wildlife refuges. Many refuges have been obtained with funds from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps.
Attempting to decide on the “finest” refuges for birding is a idiot’s errand, as everybody’s standards are completely different. Some are nice for a particular fowl, others for 1000’s of birds, and others throughout a selected season. Some simply appear to be rarity magnets. Others could also be good for a free morning on a enterprise journey to Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, or Las Vegas.
However even with various standards, some places rise to the highest.
The next checklist (in alphabetical order) was developed utilizing a subjective weighing of the next non-exclusive checklist of standards: the variety of potential species (notably regional specialties); perceived renown amongst birders and/or look on different prime birding websites lists; customer services; species and guidelines numbers from eBird (increased is healthier for each); and a dose of geographic balancing.
- Anahuac NWR (Texas)
- Aransas NWR (Texas)
- Bear River MBR (Utah)
- Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR (Washington)
- Bombay Hook NWR (Delaware)
- Bosque del Apache NWR (New Mexico)
- Chincoteague NWR (Virginia)
- Desert NWR (Nevada)
- Edwin B. Forsythe NWR (New Jersey)
- Harris Neck NWR (Georgia)
- Horicon NWR (Wisconsin)
- J. N. Ding Darling NWR (Florida)
- John Heinz NWR (Pennsylvania)
- Kilauea Level NWR (Hawaii)
- Klamath Basin NWR Advanced (California and Oregon)
- Laguna Atascosa NWR (Texas)
- Lee Metcalf NWR (Montana)
- Malheur NWR (Oregon)
- Minnesota Valley NWR (Minnesota)
- Ottawa NWR (Ohio)
- Parker River NWR (Massachusetts)
- Pea Island NWR (North Carolina)
- Quivira NWR (Kansas)
- Santa Ana NWR (Texas)
- St. Marks NWR (Florida)
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A Google map (which can also be the picture on the prime of this put up) with all 25 places is right here. To be taught extra a couple of particular NWR, try the eBird “Discover a Nationwide Wildlife Refuge” characteristic and evaluate that refuge’s Complete Conservation Plan (CCP).
Many of those comprise hotspots within the prime 100 within the U.S. based on eBird, together with: Aransas (366 species); Bosque del Apache (380); Parker River (365); Laguna Atascosa (365); Santa Ana (358); Anahuac (336); Pea Island (322); and Edwin B. Forsythe (344). Just about all are listed within the Nationwide Geographic Information to Birding Sizzling Spots of the US (2006) by Mel White and Paul Lehman, nonetheless a wonderful useful resource for the touring birder greater than a decade after publication.
Word that this checklist excludes refuges that will be extremely fascinating to go to however don’t permit public entry or are successfully inaccessible (e.g., Halfway Atoll NWR, Farallon Islands NWR, and many others.) and solely consists of places which might be technically nationwide wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. For instance, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a part of Gateway Nationwide Recreation Space, a unit of the Nationwide Park Service. This checklist additionally doesn’t embrace models outdoors the 50 states (e.g., any of the models within the Caribbean).
Be happy to depart feedback and strategies, as it is a subjective checklist and it’s not mounted in stone. However, if proposing an addition, please determine an present location that will be dropped in favor of the proposed addition.
As the one federal lands with a authorized mandate to guard wildlife, birders ought to be at forefront of defending the Nationwide Wildlife Refuge System. One method to assist and defend the system is to find out about and go to a refuge, together with the top-notch birding places on this checklist.
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Primarily based on strategies, I added the “Subsequent 10” to authentic “Prime 25” checklist on Google Maps, which is right here and pictured on the prime. They’re:
- Arrowwood NWR (North Dakota)
- Again Bay NWR (Virginia)
- Bayou Sauvage NWR (Louisiana)
- Bowdoin NWR (Montana)
- Hagerman NWR (Texas)
- Leoess Bluffs NWR (Missouri)
- Merritt Island NWR (Florida)
- Montezuma NWR (New York)
- Sacramento NWR Advanced (California)
- Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR (California)
This put up was initially printed on January 30, 2018, and it has been up to date.