Seasons of Wildlife
March through mid-May will be the peak of waterbird migration for waterfowl and shorebirds to be observed. Late May through mid-June will be the peak time to see songbirds as they are working their way north to breed.
Snow geese pass through during their spring migration and use a Camas as a resting spot before heading north to the Arctic regions. As many 15,000 to 20,000 may use the Refuge on a given time during the height of the snow goose migration.
July through August is a great time to come enjoy the new life on the Refuge. Not only are the waterfowl hatching and broods are visible, there will also be chances to see elk calves and deer fawns. Occasionally, moose can also be seen.
Summer is the season to view the emergence of newly hatched birds, such as long-billed curlew. Many species nest on the Refuge, so keep an eye out for young in all types of habitats.
Moose are frequent visitors to Camas NWR, and can be found during any season, depending upon local habitat conditions. This bull moose was checking out all the trees around the Refuge headquarters area.
Late Fall and Winter
Late November through March visitors can enjoy and cold evening watching bald eagles fly into the roost trees at headquarters and enjoy the other raptors in the area, such as rough-legged hawks that frequent this area in the winter.
Winters in the high desert habitat can be harsh, some years there is snow on the ground from late October through April. However resident species such ring-necked pheasant can be seen year round.
The refuge provides a home for a variety of wildlife species and there are viewing opportunities throughout the year. The refuge is home of a unique night roost for wintering bald eagles. This phenomenon happens from late November through March each year. Bald eagles night roost in a cottonwood shelter belt just north and east of the headquarters. It is an amazing experience to see and hear them fly into the trees in that last hour or two of the evening. Friends to Camas NWR hosts a night in February to highlight this event and it has been their most popular public event.
The middle of March is the next big event that happens, which is the waterfowl migration starts to make it move through eastern Idaho. Large numbers of snow geese can be seen on the refuge and in the general area during this time. Both Tundra and Trumpeter swans follow along with snow geese, and ducks arrive shortly after the bigger waterfowl push further north. After the waterfowl migration settles down, the migration of song birds kick in about the last week of March or first week of June.
Our fall attraction is when the elk go in their breeding cycle or “rut”, which happens about mid-September. The elk herd will not only be more visible during this period, but you can also listen for the haunting sounds of the male elk bugling. The whitetail rut occurs in mid-November and is really popular with our photographers. The bucks are always more photogenic during that time of the year.
A variety of migratory and non-migratory bird species can be found at Camas. Over 300 species of birds have been identified on the Refuge over the years. Some of the best songbird migrant viewing in the state can be found around the Refuge Headquarters. Check out our Refuge Wildlife list and find as many species as you can!
Camas has a wide assortment of small and large mammals present at various times of the year. Not much work has been done to identify the variety of small mammal species that exist on the Refuge to date. Through the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) we will begin small mammal surveys to identify as many species that inhabit the Refuge as we can over the next couple of years.
Camas NWR has both native and naturalized habitat types that provide food and shelter for wildlife. The Refuge has native wetland,habitats and also native upland , grasslands and meadows. The naturalized habitats consist of a limited amount of agricultural lands, hay meadows and shelterbelt habitats. All of these types of habitats provide basic needs for migratory and resident wildlife species that utilize the Refuge.