a black, grey and white tern sits on a nest on a beach featuring some yellow flowers surrounding it.
a black, grey and white tern sits on a nest on a beach featuring some yellow flowers surrounding it.
An adult California least tern sits on its nest. Photo by Mark Pavelka/USFWS

California has once again welcomed tiny and graceful visitors to beaches, estuaries, river mouths and lagoons. The federally endangered California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni), the smallest of the tern species, returns to California — from the bay to the border — each year during the first or second week of April to feast, rest, and nest.

Least terns hover over the surf zone or shallow estuarine waters and can be seen plunging into the water from 10–30 feet to capture small, slender-bodied fish like anchovies and topsmelt. …


Wildlife species that deserve your love and attention.

When you think of wildlife, what species come to mind and gets you excited about our natural world? It could be the symbolic bald eagle, revered bison, or iconic wolf. There are probably many charismatic species you’ve come to know and love, but we want to introduce you to some less popular wildlife that also deserve some hype.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to conserve, protect, and enhance countless wildlife species, and every single one of them contributes to biodiversity. …


person in wetsuit with snorkel looks at camera as 2 manatees swim near her
person in wetsuit with snorkel looks at camera as 2 manatees swim near her
Monica Scroggin practicing passive observation.

She gets this question a lot:

What are those bubbles around the manatee?

Ever the professional, Monica Scroggin answers with a straight face.

Farts. Manatee farts.

And this: They’re pretty strong.

When you’re the head of visitors’ services at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, you learn all about manatees — their behavior, their travels and, yes, their flatulence. You want to know something about Trichechus manatus latirostris, ask Scroggin.


close up photo of milk-vetch plant with lavender petals and some light greenery
close up photo of milk-vetch plant with lavender petals and some light greenery
Ash Meadows milk-vetch. Photo by USFWS

Milk-vetches are part of the largest group of plants in the world known as Astragalus and consists of about 3,000 identified species. This group is part of the legume family, which includes peas. In California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin, some of these milk-vetches grow in habitats that are incredibly inhospitable to most plants. Let’s meet a few of these tough and resilient beauties.

Coachella Valley milk-vetch

Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae


Landscape photo of a lake with trees in background
Landscape photo of a lake with trees in background
Zimmerman Lake in Colorado. Photo by Theo Stein/USFWS

Historically, women have faced many challenges in STEM fields, but have persevered and paved the way for future generations. Louella Cable, Rachel Carson and others less well-known paved the way for women in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), and their legacy continues to inspire women in the Service today.

Despite the accomplishments of these pioneering women, studies suggest women continue to face a number of structural and cultural challenges in their pursuit of reaching their career heights in STEM. For example, as women outperform men in both physical and life science undergraduate courses, men continue to be perceived…


Landscape photo of trees and ground covered in snow
Landscape photo of trees and ground covered in snow
Snowy landscape at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah. Photo by John Zaker/USFWS

Hibernation season. Soup season. Winter. Whatever you might call it, this is the time of year when you might sit on the edge of your seats with skis or snowshoes in hand ready for the first snowfall of the year. Others might live where winter doesn’t really exist (…we’re looking at you, Florida.) Whether it’s snowshoeing, ice fishing, or hiking, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries are special places to enjoy the winter season.

National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries offer many different winter recreational activities, and they are home to many wildlife…


How Conservation Helps Fill in the Gaps of History

aerial map with white outline of refuge  land and orange rectangle with white tag saying Benn Ross Site
aerial map with white outline of refuge  land and orange rectangle with white tag saying Benn Ross Site
Map of the new Peter’s Neck Unit and where Ben Ross’ land is believed to be.

In October 2020, after years of negotiations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered with The Conservation Fund to acquire an additional 2,691 acres of forested wetlands to be added to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The parcel will provide essential habitat for migrating shorebirds, waterfowl, and other native species. Wildlife aren’t the only ones, however, that benefit from the riches of these lands. Beneath the soil there are deep historic roots that may help us piece together previously untold stories.

For years, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge has worked alongside the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Harriet Tubman Underground…


woman in red plaid shirt, camo pants and hat, sunglasses on hat holds a duck
woman in red plaid shirt, camo pants and hat, sunglasses on hat holds a duck
Stephanie knew early in her career that she did not want to do anything unless it involved waterfowl. Photo by USFWS

Hi! I’m Stephanie Catino, the Atlantic Flyway Speciator. Yes I know, that sounds like a fictitious title. So what exactly IS a speciator? Good question! When I accepted the job three years ago, I also had no idea what I was getting myself into…

As the speciator, I am responsible for receiving waterfowl parts from all the states along the Atlantic Coast (including Vermont and West Virginia) and determining what species of waterfowl it is from based solely on the wing characteristics. But why are we even getting wings in the mail?

It’s part of our long-term survey, the Parts…


Closeup of albatross head
Closeup of albatross head
This and the other photos in this blog show mōlī (Laysan albatross). More than 70 percent of the world’s nesting population of mōlī resides on Midway Atoll.

Story, Photos and Videos by Eric Kershner

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to stare into the eyes of an albatross? I know I have! I’ve always dreamed about visiting Midway Atoll to see the millions of seabirds that call the island their home. Well that dream came true for me! I was fortunate enough to serve as the acting refuge manager for Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial for two months beginning in mid-November of 2020.

See also: World’s oldest known, banded wild bird hatches chick at Midway Atoll

Now, I’ve studied puffins…


California Edition

a red and black beetle with a red heart emoji over its body.
a red and black beetle with a red heart emoji over its body.
Male Valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Credit: USFWS (modified image)

We’re using the the term “bugs” loosely here. True bugs belong in a family known as Hemiptera while beetles are insects of the Coleapotera family. The main differences lie in their mouth parts and how they grow from egg to adult.

Now that we’ve covered that, did you know the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protects over 24 insects in California? Here are four threatened and endangered California crawlies that need some love this Valentine’s Day and beyond.

1. Delta green ground beetle

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

We’re dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

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