The Washita National Wildlife Refuge will hold wildlife viewing tours on Saturday and again on Jan. 15.
Participants will get opportunities to see bald eagles, ducks and geese in areas of the refuge that are normally not open to the public.
Spotting scopes will be available for wildlife watching but participants are encouraged to bring their own binoculars as well.
Tour groups will caravan to the viewing areas from the headquarters in their own vehicles.
Tours will begin at the refuge headquarters located 5 miles west of Butler on SH 33 then 1 mile north and ½ mile west.
Washita Refuge is home to a number of migratory and resident wildlife species and is a wintering home for bald eagles.
According to refuge officials, these birds of prey feed on fish from Foss Reservoir, and geese from neighboring fields – and are often seen in trees along the lake shore.
Several mature eagles (with white heads and tails) and immature eagles (uniformly brown colored) have been observed in recent weeks, according to the refuge’s news release.
As winter weather freezes lakes to our north over the next several weeks, more eagles should join them.
Between 50,000 and 100,000 geese usually spend the winter on the refuge each year.
Canada, white-fronted, snow, and Ross’s geese begin arriving in late October each year.
Some of these birds will continue their southern migration as the winter weather turns colder and wheat fields are eaten bare – but some will remain on the refuge until spring, when they begin their migration to nesting grounds in the northern United States and Canada.
These birds graze in the wheat fields, both on and off the refuge, close to the lake. About 2,000 acres of the refuge are planted in wheat annually to provide food for the geese.
White-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats and other resident species are also abundant on the refuge, and tour participants usually enjoy seeing a variety of resident wildlife in the wheat fields and grasslands.
For more information on the tours, call (580) 664-2205.