Ankeny NWR is easy to get to and provides excellent viewing of wintering waterfowl, raptors, marsh species, and upland songbirds. Located just off the interstate and designed to make wildlife observation easy and accessible to all, the refuge features an abundance of observation blinds, platforms, boardwalks, and information kiosks. I enjoy birding the site for the diversity of species and sheer number of birds.
The refuge was established in 1965 to provide wintering habitat for the rare Dusky Canada Goose, whose entire population winters in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Ankeny is also the winter haven for up to three other races of Canada Goose, three races of Cackling Goose, and smaller numbers of Snow, Ross’s, and Greater White-fronted Geese. Emperor Geese and Brant join in on occasion.
In spring, look for American Bitterns, rails, Wood Ducks, and other marsh birds. The Rail Trail leads through an ash swale that attracts migrant warblers, owls, and Red-breasted Sapsuckers in addition to the Virginia Rails that give the boardwalk its name. – John Rakestraw
Flat. Hiking trails up to two miles in length. Easily birded by car.
Cackling and Canada Geese, Tundra Swan, Wood Duck, Northern Pintail, Green-winged, Blue-winged, and Cinnamon Teals, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded and Common Mergansers, Ruddy Duck, Bald Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, American Bittern, California Quail, Spotted and Western Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, other migrant shorebirds, Belted Kingfisher, Rufous Hummingbird, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, Vaux’s Swift, Western Bluebird, Varied Thrush, Northern Shrike, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, and MacGillivray’s Warblers, Purple Finch, Brewer’s Blackbird, Bullock’s Oriole.
When to go
October to March for geese and raptors, April to June for nesting songbirds and marsh species, July to September for migrant shorebirds.
Primitive restroom, two boardwalks, observation platforms and blinds, informational signage.
Federal wildlife refuge. Open sunrise to sunset, no admission fee, ample parking/pullouts. Much of refuge closed to public access October to March, but both boardwalks and all observation sites are open year-round. No public transportation.
A spotting scope is useful for sorting through the flocks of waterfowl.