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Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region

Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge - Photo by USFWS

The verdant pastures around Nestucca Bay harbor six subspecies of geese including the world's population of Semidi Islands Aleutian Canada geese, a subspecies of the Aleutian Canada Goose, and the only coastal wintering population of dusky Canada geese. Late October to early April marks an exciting time of year at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This is the period when the geese can be seen feeding on the surrounding short grass pastures.

Wildlife and Habitats

Nestucca Bay Unit
Sinuous tidal channels in Brooten Marsh - Photo by Shawn Stephensen USFWS Nestucca Bay Refuge provides important winter habitat for the formerly endangered Aleutian Canada goose and serves as an important overwintering site for 15% of the declining population of the dusky Canada goose. Other subspecies of white-cheeked geese, including cackling geese (Tavernerís and cackling) and Canada (lesser and western), also use refuge pastures. The freshwater wetlands and estuarine habitats support thousands of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. The riverine and estuarine habitats provide essential habitat for Chinook salmon, threatened coho salmon, chum salmon, steelhead trout and coastal cutthroat trout. Mammals such as marsh shrews, Oregon voles, muskrats, beaver, mink, river otters, and raccoons are common in the marshes and wetter pastures and harbor seals forage over flooded tideflats. Deer and elk graze the marsh and pasture grasses. The riparian forest patches and the valley forested wetlands support small mammals as well as many amphibians and reptiles such as long-toed and Pacific giant salamanders, rough-skinned newts, Pacific tree frogs, and garter snakes. The forest areas are used as breeding habitat by neotropical songbirds including Swainsonís thrush, Wilsonís warbler, orange-crowned warbler and western tanager. The forest is also used by other songbirds on a year-round basis including chestnut-backed chickadee, winter wren, golden-crowned kinglet, varied thrush and song sparrow. The recently delisted California brown pelican uses the open waters within Nestucca Bay as foraging habitat in summer and early fall. Peregrine falcon observations are numerous from fall through spring. Cannery Hill, located on the upper portion of the Nestucca Bay Unit, has several bald eagle perching sites.

Neskowin Marsh Unit
The carnivorous sundew and bog cranberry at the Neskowin Marsh unit of Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge - Photo copyrighted by David Pitkin Habitats within the Neskowin Marsh Unit, located about 2.5 miles south of the Nestucca Bay Refuge Unit, include marsh, bogs, forested wetlands, upland shrub and meadows, and adjacent forested uplands. The bog communities are extremely specialized, and include sedge fen, shrub carr, and sphagnum bog. The sphagnum bog is significant because it contains the largest known occurrence of acid-forming mire on the Oregon coast.

The complexity of marsh, forested wetlands and adjacent upland woodlands found within the Neskowin Marsh Unit provide important habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds birds such as yellow-rumped warbler, common yellowthroat, marsh wren, olive-sided flycatcher and Hermit thrush. Waterfowl use the marsh throughout the winter and in the fall and spring migration periods. Species commonly observed include mallard, wood duck, American wigeon, northern pintail, green-winged teal, ring-necked duck, lesser scaup and bufflehead. Both the mallard and wood duck are probable breeders at the marsh. A variety of other marsh dependent birds and waterbirds using the marsh include red-winged blackbird, great blue heron, green heron, Virginia rail and sora. Signs of mammals such as black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, black bear and beaver are abundant. Anadromous fish, including Chinook salmon, threatened coho salmon, chum salmon, steelhead trout and coastal cutthroat use Neskowin Creek for spawning and rearing, and juvenile coho salmon also use the marsh as off-channel overwintering habitat. In the spring, thousands of amphibians and numerous egg masses appear in the wetlands, indicating that the marsh is an important breeding area for red-legged frogs and northwest salamanders. Peregrine falcons and bald eagles nest in the vicinity and use the wetland and surrounding upland habitat for hunting, foraging and resting.

Visitor Opportunities

Waterfowl Hunting
Ducks and coots can be hunted at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge 2014-15. Specifically, 108 acres of Brooten Marsh and 33 acres of tidal marsh at the mouth of Little Nestucca River will be open to hunting. The Service will allow hunting on these refuge lands seven days per week in accordance with State and Federal regulations. Hunters can access refuge lands two hours before sunrise and up to one hour after sunset. Goose hunting will remain closed on all lands within Nestucca Bay Refuge to provide sanctuary for wintering Canada geese. Brooten Marsh is a salt marsh located where the Nestucca River joins the Little Nestucca River. Hunters can access the area either by boat or walking in from a pull-out along Brooten Road near the southeast corner of the marsh. Access to the mouth of the Little Nestucca River is only possible by boat.

State hunting license requirements apply to duck and coot hunting on the refuge. Download the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Hunting Regulations and Map (4.4 MB). Click here for the 2014-15 Oregon Game Bird Regulations. For more information call 541-867-4550.
Thumbnail of Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Hunting Regulations
Thumbnail of Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Hunting Map
Refuge Waterfowl Hunting Regulations and Map (4.4 MB PDF)

Wildlife Watching and Photography
Explore the trails of Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The patient observer will be rewarded with many wildlife viewing opportunities on the refuge. The Cannery Hill Unit is open daily from sunrise to sunset. There are two parking lots on the Cannery Hill Unit. The Pacific View Parking Area has minimal parking so we encourage you to leave your car at the first parking lot and walk the graveled Christensen Road/Trail which is a moderately difficult, 15 minute one way trip that leads you to the Pacific View Trail. Be mindful that you will be sharing the roadway with cars. On the Pacific View Trail you will experience an easy, 10 minute walk on a paved surface with rest benches. The trail ends at an observation deck where you will be treated to a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean, Haystack Rock, Nestucca Bay, the Coast Range, and the Little Nestucca River.

Download the bird checklist for Nestucca Bay NWR (136 KB PDF).

What you need to know when visiting the refuge:
Please stay on the trails
Keep to the trails – no off trail use.
Thumbnail of Cannery Hill Unit Map
Download a letter-sized PDF map of the Cannery Hill Unit (312 KB).
Pets are prohibited
Pets are prohibited on the refuge to protect wildlife and people.
This trail is wheelchair accessible
The Pacific View Trail is wheelchair accessible.
No collecting of plants and animals
Enjoy viewing plants and animals where they are – no collecting.
Firearms are not allowed
Firearms are prohibited.
Bicycles are not allowed
Bicycles are not allowed on the trail.

Refuge Planning

The Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex has completed a planning process for the long-term management of wildlife, habitat, and public use activities on Bandon Marsh, Nestucca Bay, and Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuges. Through this planning process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought input from the public, interested agencies, Tribes, and organizations regarding their interests, concerns, and viewpoints about important Refuge management issues. The Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Nestucca Bay Refuge is available. Download a map of our planned management direction (1.8 MB PDF). For more information visit our CCP site.

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Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 2127 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, OR, 97365
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Site last updated April 30, 2015