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An oxbow of the Missouri River before the last ice age, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge is a massive series of lakes and wetlands a few miles east of Malta. Before the government started to administer the refuge, water levels would drastically vary by season, making it a poor breeding ground for birds—but an excellent breeding ground for disease. Since the construction of several dikes and water channels in the 1930s, however, the water levels of the lakes have remained fairly constant, and the 15,000-acre preserve now shelters numerous birds and mammals. Aside from typical prairie animals and field songbirds, there are sizeable populations of pelicans, gulls, and herons. Several protected species also live here, including the piping plover, black-footed ferret, bald eagle, and peregrine falcon.
As the main road through the refuge, the Bowdoin Refuge Auto Tour Route affords excellent views of the terrain and wildlife. Old U.S. 2 is another main route, but it doesn't compare to the slower and far more scenic experience of the Auto Tour.
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana, United States