Seasons of Wildlife

During the warmer months, expect to see a myriad of waterfowl, grassland birds and brightly colored prairie wildflowers. During the cooler season, expect to see our more residential wildlife such as white-tailed deer and bald eagles.

Featured Species


Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge is known for its complex of prairie pothole wetlands, marshes and shallow lakes. Many historical accounts of the first settlers described the abundance of waterfowl on refuge waters. “Game was very plentiful, especially ducks, geese and prairie chickens. It was no trouble to keep our families in meat, as all we had to do was to look out on the lake in the morning and see where the ducks were…” (Wilcox 1907). Today, waterfowl numbers have rebounded since the restoration of numerous wetlands on the refuge. Common breeding species include mallard, blue-winged teal, canvasback and trumpeter swan. During migration, all major waterfowl species are observed.

Greater Prairie Chicken

The greater prairie chicken has long been a relic of the Minnesota tallgrass prairie, including around the refuge. At one time, their range extended from south to north along the western edge of the state. But as more and more prairies were plowed, numbers dropped and the remaining prairie chickens were driven to inhabit either the high, dry beach ridges of glacial Lake Agassiz or low, wet ground - both unsuitable for the plow. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources designated the greater prairie chicken as a species of special concern. The greater prairie chickens on the refuge are thriving and visitors can hear their haunting booms every spring on the Hamden Lake lek. Reserve your spring morning in the prairie chicken blind by calling the office at 218-847-4431.

Marbled Godwit

When it comes to bird numbers on the refuge, shorebirds are second only to waterfowl. Up to 1,000 shorebirds at one time have been observed using refuge managed wetlands. Although migration boasts more than 20 species, only the marbled godwit, killdeer and greater yellowlegs breed on the refuge. The marbled godwit, a regional bird of conservation concern, uses wet prairies, grasslands and marshes for breeding and nesting. These habitats are plentiful on the refuge. In the spring, it is likely visitors will hear the call of a godwit pair and see them flying low over the drained Hamden Lake.