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Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is a 30,700-acre refuge that protects mixed habitat types including oak savanna, big woods and wetlands. 11,000 sandhill cranes stage on the refuge in late October as they start to gather for migration. The St. Francis River flows through the eastern side of the park. Over 230 species of birds, 58 species of mammals and 25 species of reptiles and amphibians have been recorded in the refuge.
Wildlife that nest and breed on Sherburne include the mallard, Canada goose, green heron, black tern, pied- billed grebe, red-tailed hawk, gopher snake, and Blanding’s turtle. Other animals, such as the great blue heron, common egret, and white pelican come to feed in wetland areas. A continually changing display of native wildflowers can be seen from late May through September. Wild lupine, hairy puccoon, large-flowered penstemon, butterfly weed, prairie rose, and blazing star are a few of the jewels observed during this time. The southward bird migration peaks in October. Hooded merganser, American coot, wigeon, scaup, northern pintail, rough-legged hawk and yellow-shafted flicker are a few of the many species that use the refuge as a place to rest and feed during their journey.
The Blue Hill Trail is a 4.9-mile loop that offers magnificent views from two overlooks in the fall. Arrive at sunrise or stay for sunset to see the flocks flying to or from their overnight roost!
The study of the annual calendar of changes in nature is called phenology. Here are some things to look and listen for on your visits to the refuge throughout the year. Use the following as a guideline to learn what you may find at different times of the year. A long winter, early spring, cold summer, or abbreviated fall can affect timing of natural events, especially bloom times. Watch how one season gradually blends into the next.
Helpful companions to this list are: Native Wildflowers of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (a full-color brochure available for $1 from the Eagle’s Nest Nature Store in the refuge headquarters), the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Drive Wildflowers and Grasses and the Bird Checklist (refuge brochures available free of charge). Enjoy!
SEPTEMBER Early: • Watch for flocks of migrating white pelicans spiraling high in the sky. • Migrant monarch butterflies headed for Mexico can be seen nectaring at flowers during the day to refuel. • Look for the purple and white blossoms of asters along the Wildlife Drive and the Blue Hill Trail. Mid: • The autumnal equinox, the astronomical first day of fall, occurs between September 19 and 21 signaling equal length of days and nights. • Hummingbirds, orioles, warblers, swallows, and other migrant birds go south to winter where food is more available. Late: • Expect the first light frost. Watch as fall colors become prominent. • Don’t be surprised to see a few snow flurries mixed with rain as fall weather begins to set in. • Plan to attend Sherburne’s Wildlife Festival!
OCTOBER Early: • The first hard freeze can occur any day. • Sandhill cranes gather in numbers to roost in wetlands at night and feed in upland fields by day in preparation for migrating to Florida in late November. Mid: • Fall colors are at their peak—maples, sumac, oaks, aspen. Enjoy the beauty! • See numerous bald eagles and hawks migrating south. Late: • Snow flurries and sleet are possible. • Many trees have dropped their leaves. Exceptions are the buckthorn, northern pin oak, and northern red oak. • Comma, question mark, and mourning cloak butterflies begin hibernation.
Grab a trail snack! Mushroom and berry picking are permitted for personal consumption within 100 feet of trails or public right of ways. VISIT THE FALL WILDLIFE FESTIVAL September 29th, 2018.10am - 3pm The Wildlife Festival celebrates National Urban Refuge Day, National Public Lands Day and Nat'l Wildlife Refuge Week. Join the refuge for a FREE fun-filled, family-friendly day at the Oak Savanna Learning Center and surrounding trails!
The Friends of Sherburne are a non- profit group formed to give assistance and support for refuge projects and educational programs.