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Habitat

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There is nothing more fundamental to the mission of Nisqually NWR than management of habitat (including habitat restoration).  A variety of hawks, owls, and other raptors hunt in the fields and marshes.  Woodpeckers, warblers and small mammals are found in the woodlands.  Shorebird flocks search for food in the mudflats while harbor seals rest in the salt marshes nearby.  Freshwater ponds provide habitat for otters, ducks and herons.  Mixed conifer forests on the bluffs above the Delta provide perches for bald eagles.  Salmon and steelhead use the estuary for passage to upriver areas and transition to the sound.

  • Riparian Forest

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    This forest is one of the rare, naturally-occurring, deciduous riparian forests found in Western Washington.  Drought or flooding, erosion or choking silt - all are common and the habitat can change rapidly.

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  • River

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    The Nisqually River's source is the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier.  The river gathers water from other tributary streams and slows and widens as it reaches the delta.  The Nisqually River is a critical habitat for endangered and threatened salmon runs.

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  • Seasonal Freshwater Wetlands

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    Depending on the time of year, you may not think that habitats inside the dike are wetlands, but not all wetlands are wet year-round!  Seasonal freshwater wetlands fill with water in the fall and winter, and then gradually dry out over the spring.

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  • Permanent Freshwater Wetlands

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    The plants and animals in the permanent freshwater wetland are adapted to constant contact with freshwater in the form of shallow and deep pools and ponds.

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  • Coniferous Forest

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    Tall Douglas firs and big leaf maples grow on the western bluffs overlooking the delta.  This area used to contain an old growth forest which was logged many years ago.  Bald Eagles use the tall firs as lookouts.  One pair nests here every spring.

  • Estuary

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    Where the freshwater of the Nisqually River meets the salt water of the Puget Sound, a rich habitat called an estuary is created.  Estuaries provide rich nutrients and sediment for plants, animals and invertebrates.

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  • Open Salt Water

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    The Nisqually NWR boundaries include the deep waters of the Nisqually Reach and Puget Sound.  Here, the marine environment takes over.  Harbor seals hunt for flounder and Dungeness crab.  Scaup and surf scoters feed on clams, while American wigeon rest and feed on sea lettuce.

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Page Photo Credits — coniferous forest photo by Michael Schramm (USFWS), estuary photo by Michael Schramm (USFWS), maple trunk with leaves, photo by Michael Schramm, USFWS, salt water photo by Michael Schramm (USFWS), permanent wetland by Michael Schramm (USFWS), Nisqually River by Michael Schramm (USFWS), seasonal wetland by Michael Schramm (USFWS), tree frog by Michael Schramm (USFWS)
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2013
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