Cold springs National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1909 by Theodore Roosevelt. The 3,117 acres of this refuge include and surround the 1,517-acre Cold Springs Reservoir. The remainder of the refuge consists of marsh, grasslands, sagebrush, and trees. During mid- to late summer, as the reservoir level drops, vegetation grows in the formerly shallow-water lakebed. The Bureau of Reclamation manages the water in Cold Springs Reservoir for irrigation purposes. The Fish and Wildlife Service manages the surrounding habitat for migratory birds.

Ornithological Summary

During migration and winter, the refuge hosts thousands of waterfowl. Mallard and Canada Geese are the dominant species, but good numbers of American Wigeon and Northern Pintail can often be found. For example during an aerial survey on December 18, 2002, the USFWS counted 10,740 Mallards, 3,010 Canada Geese, and 2,000 Northern Pintails. Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Canvasback, Lesser Scaup, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, and Ring-necked Ducks are also common, though in smaller numbers. Small flocks of White-fronted Geese stop at Cold Springs during the fall and spring migrations. Tundra Swans can also been seen at Cold Springs. Hundreds of shorebirds can be seen during the fall migration when the upper reservoir is exposed. For example a local birder counted 500 western sandpipers on one day during August 2003 and 900 Killdeer on one day in September 2003. Smaller numbers of shorebirds frequent Memorial Marsh during the spring migration.
Many other species occur as well. One to several Bald eagles can be found during winter. Two Great Blue Heron colonies can be found - < 50 nests combined. Hundreds of songbirds stop during migration and/or winter on Cold Springs Refuge. Abundant species (generally several hundred individuals during a migration or winter season) include (in no particular order) Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Oregon Junco, and White-crowned Sparrow. Abundant resident species include Black-capped Chickadee and Song Sparrow.

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