Seasons of Wildlife


Blue-gray Gnatcatchers snatch up tiny insects in mid-air. You can find them by their call, listen for the short whine in the forest.

  • Spring

    Prothonotary Warbler

    April and May are some of the best times to see songbird migration.  Stopping at a boat landing and taking time to scan the treetops can reward a visitor with many species of warblers.  Following the Great River Road on both sides of the river, you will discover one of the many walking trails or decks with spotting scopes to help you view wildlife, but it is always best to bring your own binoculars.

  • Summer

    Heron Rookery

    In the floodplain forest  great blue herons, great egrets and double-crested cormorants nest in rookeries.  Look for groups of American white pelicans feeding in formation or soaring over the refuge.  The sora rail, the laughter of the marsh, is the most common marsh bird. Seldom seen, but often heard, in the early morning or late evening.  Eleven species of frogs and toads sing, chirp, and croak from April to August. Listen for them in the evenings at the marsh.



  • Fall

    SOW Swans

    Fall colors are the backdrop for thousands of waterfowl migrating back to their wintering grounds. Migrating tundra swans grace the refuge through freeze-up. During peak fall migration in late October, hundreds of thousands of canvasbacks, common mergansers, goldeneyes, mallards, shovelers, blue-winged teal, and coots gather on the refuge.

    GPS Coordinates for:
    Brownsville Overlook: 43 39.121 N 91 16.488 W (Brownsville, MN)
    Hwy 26 Overlook: 43 37.955 N 91 16.436 W  (Brownsville, MN)

    Tundra Swan Facts

  • Winter

    winter animal track

    Tracks in snow remind you that winter is alive with activity.  A track made by otter sliding on the ice or a deer path across the ice are often discovered on a winter outing.     Hundreds of wintering bald eagles congregate near open water snatching fish with their talons and soaring to to the treetops to eat their prey.

    Bald Eagle Facts

  • Discontinued Aerial Surveys

    Aerial surveys of migratory waterfowl utilizing Pools 4 through 6 of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) have been discontinued in order to re-evaluate the program regarding protocols and necessity. Aerial surveys of migratory waterfowl utilizing Pools 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Refuge are conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. You are encouraged to contact your local Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist for more information regarding aerial waterfowl surveys in these pools. Aerial surveys of migratory waterfowl utilizing Pool 13 of the Refuge are conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey. You are encouraged to visit their website at and click on Aerial Inventories for information regarding aerial waterfowl surveys in pool 13. 

    For information regarding waterfowl migration on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, you should contact the respective District Managers as listed below:

    For Pools 4, 5, 5a and 6 contact District Manager, Mary Stefanski at (507) 454-7351

    For Pool 7 and 8 contact District Manager, Tim Miller at (608) 779-2399

    For Pools 9, 10 and 11 contact District Manager,  (608) 326-0515

    For Pools 12, 13 and 14 contact District Manager, Ed Britton at (815) 273-2732

  • Historical Fall Flights


    Historical Fall Waterfowl Flights

    Learn More