Tamarac Wildlife Refuge
August is the month to prepare for the cold months ahead. Spend some time in nature to rejuvenate your spirit before the frigid temperatures arrive. Experience some vibrant early foliate color with native sumacs and observe the beauty of late summer flowers including yarrow, goldenrod, hoary alyssum, and woodland sunflower.
Sample the fall cuisine with raspberries, gooseberries, elderberries, pin cherries and chokecherries that can all be found and picked south of Hwy 29 in the visitor area. See you at the refuge where the blacktop ends and the backwoods begins.
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 9 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, special presentations and activities
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.
Saturday, Aug. 7 -- 10 a.m. A Trumpeter Triumph Talk and Tour.
Meet at the Tamarac Visitor Center and discover the world of trumpeter swans, North America's largest waterfowl species. Learn how this bird was nearly decimated and how Tamarac played a critical role in its amazing recovery. Then we'll head out on the refuge in search of these beautiful birds and their young
You are invited to participate in Tamarac's 8th annual Amateur Photo Contest. There are five categories this year: Wildlife, Plant Life, Scenic, Nature's Abstracts and Recreation. All photos must be taken on the refuge and entries must be received by Sept. 10. For more information stop in at the visitors center, call 218-847-2641, or visit www.tamaracfriends.org.
Friday, Aug. 13 -- 8-10 p.m. Tamarac Twilight Hike.
Join us for an evening of discovery at the Tamarac Visitor Center. While most critters are settling in for a night of rest, others are just waking up! Learn about Tamarac's nightlife and how they adapt to the darkness of night. Use your senses and become part of their world. Meet at the visitor center to carpool to hiking location. Bring a flashlight and insect repellent.
Sunday, Aug. 15 -- 2 p.m. Going Green in a Changing Climate.
How is global climate change affecting wildlife and wildlands? Learn about some of the latest research going on in distant lands and right here at Tamarac. Then find out how you can make a difference by leaving a smaller "carbon footprint" on the planet. Sandy Gunderson of Becker County Environmental Services will show you that it's easy being green. Meet at the Tamarac Visitor Center.
Tuesday, Aug. 24 -- 1 p.m. Wet and Wild: Macroinvertebrates!
Explore Jim's Marsh and discover tiny critters, which provide food and cover for fish and other animals. You'll collect invertebrates using a dip net and will have the opportunity to sketch these animals and identify them by using a key. See how many you can find. A great family activity presented by MinnAqua instructor Jess Johnson at the Tamarac Visitor Center.
Sunday Movies, 2 p.m.
Aug. 1: Planet Earth -- Seasonal Forests. Investigate temperate regions and find some of the most elusive creatures and well-adapted plant life on earth. From the giant sequoia to the Siberian forests, Forests bring to life a seemingly familiar world that remains largely unexplored. 55 min.
Aug. 8: Lords of Nature -- Life in the Land of Great Predators. Wolves and cougars, once driven to the edge of existence, are finding their way back -- from the Yellowstone plateau to the canyons of Zion, from the farm country of northern Minnesota to the rugged open range of the West. It tells the story of science now discovering the great carnivores as revitalizing forces of nature, and a society now learning tolerance for the beasts they had once banished. 60 min. New!
Aug. 22: Beavers, the Biggest Dam Movie You Ever Saw! Take an intimate swim with beavers and experience the rich aquatic habitat of one of nature's greatest engineers. Our most popular movie! 38 min.
Aug. 29: Mino-Bimadiziiwin: The Good Life, Ojibwe wild rice harvesting in Minnesota. An engaging portrait of a community on the White Earth reservation where people's lives revolve around the annual harvest of wild rice. 57 min.
Tamarac's wild nightlife
On a sun-filled afternoon Tamarac will receive many visitors seeking to find wildlife in the great outdoors. However, just because we go to sleep at night, doesn't mean all of Minnesota's wildlife does the same. The evening in a forest is a thrilling new world with a unique set of sights and sounds.
In fact some of the prime wildlife viewing, or listening opportunities exist in the hours of darkness. Here are some wildlife calls and sightings that can be found on the refuge when the sun sets.
Loon Calls: There is probably nothing more distinctive in the northern wilderness than the call of the loon. The loon has four basic calls. The tremolo, which sounds like quivering laughter, is a sound of alarm and aggression. This is also the call a loon performs when flying. The "wail" is the long lonely call used to communicate over distance. The "yodel" is used by males to guard their territory. Finally the "hoot" a shorter call, is used to communicate with the young.
Wolf Howls: Wolves are some of the most social and vocal mammals. Howling is used to identify one another, celebrate a successful hunt and find other pack members. The low pitch and long duration of a howl are well suited for transmission in forest and across tundra. Because wolves range over vast areas to find food, they are often separated from one another. Howling serves as the glue that keeps a pack physically together. Wolves are sometimes even responsive to a human howling.
Owls: The word owl comes from the old English word ule, which means to howl. Minnesota has twelve different owl species that are active in the darkness of Tamarac's forests. Owl calls can be heard on the refuge that range from rapid whistles, long piercing screeches and gentle softer hoots. The two most common species on the refuge are the barred owl and the great horned owl. The barred owl has a call that sounds like it is saying "who cooks for you?" While the great horned owl call is from 3 to 8 hoots, most often six. It is called a "hootie" or hoot owl because its call is a deep who-who HOO-HOO.
Because these creatures are active mainly by night, counter to our diurnal activity, they are often misunderstood and considered evil -- blood sucking bats, the Big Bad Wolf. Though these are fascinating creatures that have adapted themselves to the night in order to reduce overall competition for resources among other species; it allows animals with similar food sources, such as hawks and owls, to live within the same habitat.
Tamarac is holding a Twilight Hike on Aug. 13, where we will become a part of the refuge's wild night life. We will learn how to sing to the loons, wolves, and owls and about many nocturnal animal adaptations to darkness. We will meet at the visitor center at 8 p.m. Don't forget your flashlight!