Skip Navigation
Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Pacific Region

Visiting the Refuges along the Oregon Coast is rewarding year-round, because each season brings different wildlife viewing opportunities.

Photo of a sea lion on the rocksPhoto of a pigeon guillemot in flight.Photo of two deer, a doe and fawn, at the shoreline. Photo of several common murres on a steep rock face.
Photo credits: USFWS

Wildlife Viewing Highlights
Download a Watchable Wildlife Map for the Oregon Coast

Birds of Prey


A bird of prey, or raptor, is characterized as having excellent eyesight, long sharp talons, and a strong rounded beak. The two main orders of raptors are the Falconiformes and Strigiformes. The Falconiformes, which include the hawks, falcons, eagles, kites, and harriers are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime. The Strigiformes are the owls, which are mostly nocturnal (meaning they are active at night), though there are some diurnal species. Vultures are also considered birds of prey. Both the Falconiformes and the Strigiformes are carnivorous birds, eating other small birds, rodents, reptiles, insects and small mammals. Owls and other raptors often eat their prey whole and then regurgitate what are called pellets consisting of the animal's indigestible parts like bone and hair.

Image of a Peregrine FalconPeregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) - In North America, Peregrine Falcons can be found breeding from the Arctic Coast south to Baja. Once an endangered species, these falcons can be found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. They were removed from the endangered species list in 1999 after an estimated 1,650 peregrine pairs was cited in the US in 1998. Peregrines use cliff ledges, and in cities they use window ledges, within close proximity to water for nest sites in what are called aeries. Egg laying begins as early as March but may not be completed until late May. Clutch size is usually three to four eggs, with an incubation period of four weeks done mainly by the female. Young fledge at six weeks. Their diet is made up mostly of other birds as well as rodents and fish which they strike and capture with their sharp talons. Peregrine Falcons are named the fastest animal in the world, with the ability to dive at speeds of over 220 mph. A pair of Peregrine Falcons can be seen using Cape Meares NWR from the viewing decks located within the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint.

Back to top

Bald EagleBald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - The Bald Eagle is resident in North America and can be found in almost every region of Oregon. With their distinctive white head, yellow beak, and brown body, these eagles can be spotted easily. The Bald Eagle's wingspan can reach up to eight feet across. This symbol of the United States was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Nesting occurs in forested areas associated with bodies of water. Nest are made of sticks and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Laying begins in February but can start as late as April. Clutch size is most often two eggs with an incubation period of thirty-five days shared by both sexes. Fledging occurs ten to twelve weeks after hatching. A Bald Eagle's diet is primarily fish, but can include rodents, small mammals, and other birds. Eagles use their large talons to catch their prey. Bald eagles can be found at most refuges along the coast.

Back to top

Barn OwlBarn Owl (Tyto alba) - Barn Owls are distributed throughout the country and on every continent except for Antarctica. In Oregon, they are common west of the Cascades. All owls have exceptional eyesight at night but the best hearing of all birds. Their very lightweight bodies and special feathers allow them to fly through the air silently. They cannot move their eyes from side to side; instead they have the ability to turn their heads three quarters of the way around, or 270 degrees of a full circle. The Barn Owl does not make a nest; instead it finds hollow tree cavities, barns, bridges, and cliff recesses. Barn Owls will breed anytime of year though most often in the spring. Clutch size can be as few as three eggs but can exceed ten. The incubation period is five weeks but the brood is not necessarily complete before the female incubates alone. Thus hatching occurs at different times. The young fledge at about sixty days. There can also be more than one brood per season. Barn Owls are nocturnal but unlike most of other owls, they forage for their food, often flying overhead scoping out prey. Their diet consists of mostly small mammals and rodents, with the small occasional bird. Owls eat their prey whole and then regurgitate what are called pellets consisting of the animal's indigestible bone and hair. Their appearance is unmistakable, they are also referred to as the heart-faced owl. Though difficult to spot because of their nocturnal instincts, their sound is easily recognizable with its startling abrasive cry. Barn Owls are known to nest at Nestucca Bay NWR and can also be seen at Siletz Bay NWR.
Back to top

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - From Alaska to Newfoundland and down to the Southwestern US, from the Atlantic coast ospreysouth to Florida, the Osprey breeds in forested areas near lakes, rivers, and the ocean. In Oregon, Osprey can be found breeding in any forested area in close proximity to water. This bird of prey wasn't always as abundant, along with the Bald Eagle, it's population declined during the 1950's and 60's due to pesticide poisoning, dropping to less than half the number of breeding pairs. The Osprey has since recovered and can be seen nesting in trees, utility poles, and artificially constructed platforms. Like other raptors, Osprey use their sharp talons to catch prey. They hunt over shallow bodies of water and dive feet first to pluck a fish from the surface. A clutch size of three to four eggs is laid in early May. Incubation lasts thirty to forty days. Once the eggs have hatched the young fledge after fifty to sixty days. An Osprey can easily be spotted in the air with its noticeable kink in the wing. Their wingspan can reach five feet. Their nest is also obvious, made from large sticks it is a large bulky formation sitting on top some kind of platform in the middle of a clearing.

All migratory birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which applies to all migratory birds and their parts including eggs, nests, and feathers and forbids the taking, killing, or possessing any migratory bird, any part, nest, or eggs.

America's National Wildlife Refuges... where wildlife comes first!

Pacific Region National Wildlife Refuge System Home
Pacific Region Home

Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Home | News | Events | CCP | Education | Wildlife | Maps and Directions | Volunteers | FAQ | Links | Contact Us
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior | | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Accessibility 
Privacy | Notices | Disclaimer | FOIA
* * * * *
Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 2127 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, OR, 97365
Phone: 541-867-4550. Email:
Site last updated March 8, 2011