- Bowdoin NWR is a 15,551-acre refuge that is approximately half water and half uplands, with the uplands comprised mostly of native short and mid grass prairie. Bowdoin has a history of overgrazing by livestock and sheep, but there has been no grazing on Bowdoin since the mid 1970's.
Bowdoin NWR's primary objective is to preserve and enhance resting, feeding and nesting habitat for migratory birds. The refuge attracts migrating waterfowl by the thousands and also provides nesting habitat for breeding ducks and geese. The refuge is managed for migratory birds, and has a Mayfield duck nesting success of 50-60 percent.
Colonial nesting birds are also important, with large colonies of American white pelican, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, eared grebe, Franklin's gull, black-crowned night heron, and white-faced ibis. The refuge also has nearly 70 threatened, endangered, candidate, or species of special concern present during at least part of the year. The piping plover has nested on the refuge, and concentrations of 150 bald eagles have been documented at Bowdoin in spring. The Baird's sparrow is an important candidate species, and Bowdoin is leading the work effort for this species and its role in grassland ecosystem efforts for the ecosystem management team.
The area is equally important for a variety of resident and migrant wildlife, including raptors, white-tailed deer, prong horns, coyotes, colonial nesting water birds, and many grassland nesting songbirds.
Water quality is a major problem at Bowdoin. Lake Bowdoin has become a large evaporative basin with salt accumulations reaching quite high levels during low water periods. Discharging salty water into Beaver Creek is regulated by the State of Montana.
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Milk River Valley of Phillips County in north central Montana.