In search of the woodcock
Early summer is a wonderful time to quietly observe the young of spring. Look for deer fawns hiding behind their mothers, bear cubs exploring their new world, and eaglets demanding to be fed. Experience the vibrant colors and fragrances of early summer woodland flowers including the showy pink lady slipper. Listen for songbirds as they settle in for the summer season.
Here at Tamarac, wildlife is left undisturbed as they care for their young. Portions of the refuge are closed to the public during this crucial time, but many viewing opportunities still exist. The most optimum times for viewing wildlife occur around sunrise and sunset. But sometimes even an afternoon visit can be rewarding to the quiet, watchful observer.
To increase your chances of seeing wildlife, take a drive on the Blackbird Auto Tour Route. This five-mile drive follows the edges of lakes, marshes and meadows. If you feel inclined to exercise, hike the two-mile long Old Indian Hiking Trail and experience the beauty of the maple basswood forest.
Try your luck in one of our five lakes open to fishing. There are many varieties of fish to be caught including crappie, walleye, sunfish, northern pike and bass. A fishing map and regulations can be obtained at the refuge information kiosks or the visitor center.
If you've got questions, our enthusiastic staff has answers! We are eager to help you make the most of your visit.
Check out our interactive exhibits and learn about the diverse habitats which, support Tamarac's many species of wildlife. Learn about the historical use of the refuge including that of the Ojibwe Indians and the European settlers. Be sure to view our large screen presentation entitled: "Tamarac: Its Life and Legends." Before you leave, browse in the Tamarac Bookshop. Proceeds from sales support educational programs at the refuge.
The visitor center is located nine miles north of Hwy 34. Visitor center hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Guided tours, Sunday movies, presentations
Wildlife Excursions will be offered every Thursday June through August from 10 a.m. to noon. Explore the refuge with a knowledgeable guide. Search for wildlife and learn about the cultural and natural history of Tamarac. Wildlife films, special programs or activities will be offered every Sunday at 2 p.m.
Friday Night Frogging
Become part of the tradition Friday, June 4, 8-10 p.m. Join a Tamarac park ranger for a night of frogging. Identify frogs by their calls while learning about their natural history and significance to the ecosystem. Meet at the visitor center.
Bring a flashlight and boots or shoes that can get wet. We'll tromp through a marsh and get a close up look at some of these cool green critters.
Film: Crane Song
A film on the Sandhill crane is at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 6. Eighty percent of the world's Sandhill cranes make their way through a 75-mile stretch of Nebraska's Central Platte River Valley every spring. Witness striking visuals and majestic sounds of the bird's journey north.
Discovering Tamarac History Tour
Discover the history of Tamarac on Saturday, June 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. Take a journey into Tamarac's past. Before the refuge was established, this landscape was extensively settled. Who were these folks? Where did they live and how did they survive in this wilderness? Learn about their significance to the refuge and more! Meet at the visitor center for a presentation and then caravan to several post-colonial historical sites.
The Secret Lives of Dragonflies and Butterflies
Learn about dragonflies and butterflies Sunday, June 13, at 2 p.m. Join local favorite, John Weber for an intriguing look into the fascinating world of dragonflies and butterflies. Enjoy beautiful photography along with a short walk to observe these creatures in the wild. Learn about their fascinating lifestyles and their significance in the balance of nature.
Discover the world of wolves by plane, helicopter, on foot and through time Sunday, June 20, at 2 p.m.
Nature Photography Workshop
A nature photography workshop is Saturday, June 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Discover the fun and adventure of photographing wildlife, plant life and the ever changing scenes of nature at Tamarac.
First, a presentation will reveal some secrets as well as cover the basic principles of taking good photos. Then we'll head out into the field to take pictures. The workshop will conclude at the visitor center with a review of our work. Please sign up in advance by calling 218-847-2641. Bring your own camera and sack lunch. Meet at the visitor center. Workshop is geared toward beginner and intermediate levels.
Film: Pollen Nation
View "Pollen Nation" Sunday, June 27, at 2 p.m. Follow the journey of a commercial bee keeper from the honey harvest on the high plains to the warm winter feeding grounds of California. Learn why honeybees and numerous species of native bees are in serious decline and how it's affecting our dinner table and that of wildlife. New this season!
Film: American Eagle
See "American Eagle" on Sunday, July 4, at 2 p.m. Take an unprecedented look at a year in the life of North America's most recognized aerial predator. From the pristine wilderness of Alaska to the Upper Mississippi River Valley, go behind the scenes and into the nest to discover the eagle's struggle to survive. 55 min.
The Scoop on Poop
Check out the droppings Sunday, July 11, at 2 p.m. For Kids of all ages! We may not see all the critters we want to on the refuge, but they leave plenty behind! Discover the wonders of scat! You'll even get to create your own animal scat to take home.
In search of woodcock
By Jayme Dittmar
The American Woodcock is a sought after game bird and a popular species among bird watchers, but it's in trouble.
According to Tamarac biologist Wayne Brininger, woodcock populations are decreasing across the nation by approximately 1 percent per year in the central United States and around 1.5 percent in the eastern United States. Tamarac's student research biologist, Kyle Daly, said that though the early successional habitats of shrubby forest floors and pole-sized trees required for woodcocks are remaining constant or rising on Tamarac, the population continues to decrease.
"Usually an increase in habitat will also increase a species' population because they will have more available resources, but this isn't happening at Tamarac," he said.
In 2009, Tamarac biologists radio marked and tracked 12 woodcock chicks. They documented a significantly poor survival rate. But with such a small sample size there may be inconsistencies within the study. Biologists emphasize that this was only an initial pilot study to obtain an idea of woodcock population statistics on the refuge.
Tamarac has received funding for 2010 to continue the study of the American woodcock by increasing sample sizes and improving radio tracking techniques. Only time will tell how Tamarac's stocky sandpipers of the woods are doing and what their future may hold.