Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Ruby Valley, Nevada
A Refuge for Nesting and Migrating Waterfowl and Other Wildlife
Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938. It encompasses 37,632 acres at the south end of Ruby Valley. This land was once covered by a 200 foot deep, 300,800 acre lake known as Franklin Lake. Today 12,000 acres of marsh remain on the refuge. Just north of the refuge, a 15,000 acre seasonal wetland is now referred to as Franklin Lake.
The refuge, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, consists of an extensive bulrush marsh interspersed with pockets of open water. Fish are abundant. Islands scattered throughout provide good nesting habitat for many bird species.
Over 200 springs flow into the marsh along its west border creating riparian habitat which is used by many songbirds, snipe, rail and small mammals. They also provide a water source for larger mammals. With slight increases in elevation, wet meadows gradate into grasslands and sagebrush-rabbitbrush habitat.
Pinon Pines and juniper cover the slopes of the Ruby Mountains that rise to 11,000 feet along the west side of the refuge. Canyons provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Rock cliffs provide raptors with nesting and perching sites. A mountainside of dead trees, home for cavity dwelling birds, was the result of a 1979 fire.
Viewing wildlife is best done during morning and evening hours. Binoculars or a spotting scope greatly assist in identifying wildlife and observing their behavior. Best wildlife viewing from a car can be done by taking the Bressman Cabin Loop passing Unit 10, the North and East Sumps, and Unit 13 and/or by taking the Brown Dike-Short Dike Loop around Unit 21. For a unique opportunity to see the marsh wildlife up-close, the South Sump is open during part of the year for canoeing and electric motors.
Amphibians and Reptiles
Amphibians live both in water and on land. Reptiles usually occur on drier sites. Both amphibians and reptiles hibernate during the winter and therefore are only seen during the spring through the fall. Because they are small, secretive animals, they are not highly visible to the refuge visitor. The Great Basin rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) and gopher snake (Pituophis melanoleucus) are most often seen crossing roads. Lizards are occasionally seen around the shrub uplands while frogs are seen along the marsh's edge. A species list has not yet been compiled for this area.
A special thank you to L. Ports and M. Ports from Northern Nevada Community College and M. Green from Nevada Department of Wildlife for their help in preparing this list. For further information contact:
Refuge Manager Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge HC 60, Box 860 Ruby Valley, Nevada 89833 Telephone: 702/779-2237