Message from the Board

By Terry Thomas

May 2020 

If there is a “best” time to visit Camas National Wildlife Refuge, it has to be the next several weeks. The birding community has long recognized that Memorial Day weekend is the peak of the songbird migration. If you hope to add significantly to your life list, then from now through the first week of June is the time to do it.

The marshes are booming at this time of year. Most of the waterbirds have arrived and from cattails to open water, there are species using the habitats. The variety of birds and mammals can be staggering if one has a little patience, a spotting scope and knows where to look.

Spring is also the time of birthing and hatching. Many of the waterfowl already have broods that are fledging right now, but others are just starting. The same is true for the elk, deer and moose. The next month will see all the fawns and calves enter this life with wide-eyed wonder and the cuteness index pegs into the red with each new birth.

The Refuge is probably in its finest condition this time of year. By now, trees are all in leaf, grass and cattails are greening and ponds are as full as they are going to be all year. For a sensory overload, be on the marsh for sunrise and catch the vibrant colors of a new day reflecting in Big Pond or Redhead Pond. Don’t forget your camera and to enter your photos in this year’s contest.

Spring is also the time when days are long, offering you a chance to get to Camas in the evening after work and school are over, yet the temperatures are still reasonable.

From wildlife to scenics to weather, now is the time to visit Camas National Wildlife Refuge, not just once, but as often as possible, for the show is different every day.

Photos by Patty Picket


Refuge Manager's Notes

Brian Wehausen, 

Camas NWR Update April 14, 2020 

Since the declaration of the pandemic and the Idaho Governor has issued the “Stay at Home Order” work on the Refuge has not been normal.  The good thing is the wildlife does not seem to care and it's business as usual for them.  In terms of staff and work being completed, we are currently working on essential tasks and projects that will isolate our employees from contacts with others to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy.  The Refuge office has been closed to the public even when staff is present.  However, the Refuge remains open to the public, as usual, we just ask that all visitors respect social distancing guidelines and ask that groups stay within families and no gatherings.  If you are planning a visit please bring a supply of disinfecting wipes or other ways to sanitize if you plan to use the picnic tables at the pavilion.

As of today, we have yet to see any water flow make it to the Refuge through Camas Creek.  The warmer weather has pushed water further down the channel and we hope to see it reach the Refuge by weeks end.  The Crab Creek snotel site is currently reporting 13.6 inches of water equivalent (38 inches snow depth) which is down from the high last week of 14.1 inches of water equivalent.  That drop is a sign that water is starting to move from the high country.  We do have a couple of our wells operating at this time slowly filling Refuge wetlands.  Both Big and Redhead Ponds are currently filling. 

In terms of bird migration, the bulk of the waterfowl migration seems to be past us at this point.  There are still small groups of snow geese in the area and at times they are using the Refuge occasionally.  On the ponds, you can see a variety of ducks, swans, cranes, and geese at any given time.  In the last week, I have noticed shorebirds beginning to arrive, avocets, stilts, and yellowlegs have been sited.  This week I have also noticed the arrival of Goldfinches at the feeders next to the Refuge Office and if temperatures warm will hope to see other new arrivals soon.  The pair of bald eagles are on their nest again this year and will hopefully be as successful as past years.  As usual plenty of harriers can be seen hunting the marshes and it is a great time of the year to watch their courtship displays as they soar over the marshes with their mates.

Big game animals can be seen as well.  A cow moose and calf have been sited regularly south and west of Big Pond in the willows along the Camas Creek channel.  Also, still seeing both white-tailed and mule deer around the Refuge, with the best time being early in the morning to catch of glimpse of these critters.

What's New

The Bird-a-Thon is on!

This is the week to use your bird watching hobby to raise money for the local Audubon Society.  You have until Memorial Day, May 25th to record your day of observations and submit your forms. 

Friends of Camas NWR Photography Contest

Step right up folks!  It’s time to get out in the fresh air and take your amazing pictures!  Please practice social distancing!

Photo by Ray Thomas

The Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge is celebrating the natural wonders of Eastern Idaho wildlife refuges and wildlife management areas with its fourth photography contest.   Photographs of birds, other wildlife and flora, as well as scenic images may be submitted at  through August 31, 2020.  See complete rules and submission form at

Entrants may submit up to five photographs taken at the Southeast Idaho Refuge Management Complex (Camas NWR, Bear Lake NWR, Gray’s Lake NWR, Oxford Slough WPA) and Idaho Fish and Game-managed areas (Mud Lake WMA, Market Lake WMA and Deer Parks WMA [including Cartier Slough]). 

A Grand Prize of $50 will be awarded.

First prize will be a Friends of Camas NWR neck gaiter and an Idaho Birding Trails book.

Second prize will be Friends of Camas NWR neck gaiter.

Third place will be an Idaho Birding Trails book. 

All prize winners and honorable mention will receive ribbons.

The Falcon Cam IS Live

The Falcon Cam this year is a Raven Cam!
For more information go to the Webcam link under the “Projects” tab above to the “F of C Projects” page.  

The webcam is currently experiencing technical issues, please check back later.  




Friends of Camas NWR Inc. 
2150 E 2350 N
Hamer, ID 83425