Seasons of Wildlife
Spring is a great time to see wild turkeys at the refuge. The males will be strutting for the females and putting on quite a show. The females may be gathered together in large groups. Mornings and evenings are the best times to look for turkeys which can often be seen in fields adjacent to the wildlife drive.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy songbirds on the refuge. Bluebirds are abundant and nest in the boxes provided. If the weather is good, they may raise two of three clutches of chicks over the summer. There are about 200 bluebird boxes on the refuge that are monitored by volunteers. Many of them can be seen along public roadways. Look for the bluebirds perched atop the boxes or on nearby fences or signs.
Fall is a great time to look for white-tailed deer on the refuge. Large numbers can often be seen in the evening feeding in the farm fields. They are fattening up on soybeans to prepare for the cold winter temps. The restricted area will be open for self-guided driving tours on Sunday afternoons in October. These roads are a good place to look for deer and other wildlife.
Winter is a good time for spotting bald eagles on the refuge. The colder and snowier the weather, the better your chance for spotting eagles. Resident eagles will be strengthening their pair bond while working on their nests. Look in large sturdy trees near the water, especially around Crab Orchard Lake. Migratory birds will come to the refuge when conditions farther north include temperatures cold enough to freeze over lakes and ponds and snow deep enough to force geese to migrate. Look for migratory birds out on the ice or perched along the shores of Crab Orchard Lake especially from the Wolf Creek Causeway or along Route 148.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is home to six nesting pairs of resident bald eagles and their offspring. A few nesting sites are visible from public roads throughout the refuge and eagles are can typically be spotted daily during the late fall and winter seasons. Many migrating eagles spend their winters on the refuge, following the flocks of ducks south.
Wild turkeys can be seen by visitors around the wildlife drive. Often in the morning and evenings, flocks of turkeys stroll around the open fields of the wildlife drive. White-tailed deer can often be seen in large numbers during the evenings. Many songbird species migrate through the refuge during their spring and summer migrations. Visitors may see eastern bluebirds, indigo buntings, white-eyed vireos, summer tanagers and many other bird species.