Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is located in Idaho's Panhandle only 20 miles from Canada. The refuge was established in 1965, primarily to create a resting area for waterfowl during migration.
Wildland Diversity Attracts Many Animals
The small 2,774 acre refuge encompasses a wide variety of habitat. Meadows, grain fields and wetlands are interspersed in the valley bottom adjacent to the Kootenai River. Wetlands include open-water ponds, cattail marshes, tree-lined ponds and rushing creeks. A small portion of the refuge ascends the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains which consists of dense coniferous forest.
Wildlife species in this leaflet are grouped into five categories: birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. A total of 300 species of vertebrate animals normally occur here indicating the richness of this environment.
Tips to Help You Enjoy Wildlife
Early morning and late evening are the best times for observing wildlife. Field guides, available at most book stores, describe an animal's habitat to help you learn where to look for particular species. This leaflet shows the seasons a bird is likely to be present. A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will help you observe wildlife from a distance without disturbing it. Wildlife photography may open a new area of enjoyment for you.
Good Luck! Whether you are a seasoned observer or just beginning, we wish you memorable experiences from this visit.
Calendar of Natural Events
Spring: by mid-March most ponds are ice free, mallard and pintail migration is peaking, and Canada geese begin nesting. In late March wake robin (Trillium) appears as snow recedes and coincides with mountain bluebird migration. Early April - osprey arrive as bald eagles depart Mid-April- skunk cabbage begins blooming and sounds of spring are in the air with ruffed grouse "drumming" and snipe "winnowing." Late April - geese are hatching and hummingbirds have arrived. May - profuse blooming chokecherry, elderberry, thimbleberry, mountain ash and Oregon grape. Ducks begin hatching and a moose may be seen on rare occasions.
Summer: June - duck broods are prominent, striped skunks bring their kittens out at night. July - goslings begin flying; Syringa, the Idaho State Flower, and pearly everlasting are blooming. Fireweed, which grows on disturbed soils, is a favorite of the hummingbirds. August - huckleberries ripen, providing tasty morsels for both bears and humans. The month also begins the migration of Canada geese and shorebirds.
Fall: September - osprey and shorebirds depart early, while late in the month 3,000-4,000 geese peak, as do early migrating pintail from Alaska. October - signals a change as kestrels leave for warmer climates and bald eagles and rough-legged hawks arrive for the winter. At mid-month tundra swans stop briefly to restore their energy. November - ducks comprised mostly of mallards peak at 25,000-35,000 early in the month. Ponds freeze over by late November and bald eagles concentrate around dense flocks of mallards for food.
Winter: in December winter waterfowl move to the ice-free Kootenai River but still feed in refuge grain fields. All wildlife settle in to survive the next two stressful months. Late in February, tundra swans arrive while goldeneyes and mergansers begin courtship displays.
The remaining vertebrate animals are listed according to evolutionary development, from the primitive to the advanced. The list contains species that should occur on the refuge. It includes 22 species of fishes, 7 species of amphibians, 6 species of reptiles and 45 species of mammals.
___ Tiger Salamander (Blotched subspecies)
___ Long-toed Salamander (Northern subspecies)
___ Western Toad (Boreal subspecies)
___ Pacific Treefrog
___ Wood Frog
___ Spotted Frog
___ Leopard Frog
___ Northern Painted Turtle
___ Western Skink
___ Northern Alligator Lizard
___ Rubber Boa (Rocky Mountain subspecies)
___ Common Garter Snake (Valley Garter Snake subspecies)
___ Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Wandering Garter Snake subspecies)
Refuge Manager Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge HCR 60, Box 283 Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805 Telephone 208/267-3888