Wildlife and Habitats
National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect salt marsh,
brackish marsh, tidal sloughs, mudflats, and coniferous and deciduous
forestland. The refuge provides nursery grounds for coho and chinook
salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. The primary ecological
goal for the refuge is to allow the salt marsh to return to its
natural tidally influenced state.
An 100-acre tidal marsh restoration project was completed on Millport Slough through a partnership between the USFWS, Ducks Unlimited and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. The restoration involved breaching 220 feet of dike, removing two dikes totaling 9,300 feet and filling 1,200 feet of artificial ditches. Large woody debris was placed in the marsh to improve habitat for anadromous fish..
Large numbers of migratory birds use the marshes and tidal slough areas. Annual mid-winter waterfowl surveys are conducted in this area and in 2009 over 1,200 waterfowl were counted in the Siletz Bay area (USFWS unpublished data). Waterfowl species such as mallard, northern pintail, American wigeon, green-winged teal, bufflehead, red-breasted merganser, hooded merganser, and Canada and cackling geese feed and rest on the marshes. Great blue herons and other wading birds use the bay and there is a small breeding colony of great blue herons on the refuge. Thousands of gulls and shorebirds including whimbrel, western and least sandpipers, dunlin, greater yellowlegs, semipalmated plover, long-billed dowitchers, and black-bellied plovers use Siletz Bay as stopover habitat. Virginia rails and sora make use of the freshwater / brackish wetlands and tidal marsh / meadow-nesting species such as savannah sparrow, marsh wren and common yellowthroat are abundant. A diversity of raptors, such as osprey, northern harrier, bald eagle, and red-tailed hawk are commonly observed hunting prey within the marshes and mudflats. The recently delisted California brown pelican uses the lower bay for foraging and the spit as a roost site. Aquatic mammals such as marsh shrews, Oregon voles, muskrat, river otter, beaver, and raccoon are common. Harbor seals forage and rest over tide flats with their primary haulout located on the spit. Black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk forage in the meadows and tidal marshes.
The forested areas of the refuge provide important wildlife habitat. Young riparian alder and understory vegetation in coniferous forests provides browse for deer and elk. Wetland forest and woody riparian habitat support mammals such as beaver, mink, river otter, muskrat, and raccoon as well as numerous small mammals such as deer mice and a variety of species of voles, moles, and shrews. Many amphibians and reptiles such as long-toed and western red- backed salamanders, rough-skinned newts, Pacific tree and red-legged frogs, northern alligator lizards, and garter snakes are also dependent upon these habitats. The forests are used by neo-tropical songbirds including Wilson’s and Townsend’s, orange-crowned, black-throated gray and yellow-rumped warblers; hermit, Swainson’s and varied thrushes. Chestnut-backed chickadees, winter wren, Stellers’ jay, wrentit, and song sparrows are found year round in the forest.