Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
- This white-cheeked goose breeds in the Aleutian and Semidi
Islands of Alaska. The Semidi Island Aleutian Cackling Goose winters on
the Oregon coast at Nestucca Bay NWR along with a few thousand Aleutian Cackling Geese. This rather small Cackling Goose was once on the
U.S. Endangered Species List until it recovered and was removed from the list in March
2001. This dramatic recovery happened after the species was reduced to less than 1,000 birds. The Aleutian
Cackling Goose feeds in the pastures at Nestucca Bay
and roosts in the ocean or on Haystack Rock in Pacific
City. Like other white-cheeked geese, the cackling goose likes pastures
where grass and wetlands are present but they can also be
found in freshwater, bays, and marshes. On the Aleutian Islands in Alaska they nest
on the ground near water in a nest lined with their
down. They typically lay four to eight eggs with
a month long incubation period. It can take six to ten
weeks for the young to fly.
Back to top
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis occidentalis)
- Dusky Canada Goose, also a subspecies, breeds in Alaska and the Middleton
Islands and winters in Washington and on the Oregon
coast at Nestucca Bay NWR and Oregon Islands NWR. Habitat is similar to the Aleutian
Cackling Goose, grazing in wet pasturelands. These geese
are the first to arrive in the fall settling at Nestucca
Bay and several offshore rocks and islands. On their arctic breeding grounds their nests are made on the ground near water and they line it with down. The birds lay four to eight eggs with a month long
incubation period. Young geese can fly after six to ten weeks.
The diet of the Dusky Canada Goose is mainly plant matter. In 1964, the breeding
grounds for the Dusky Canada Goose in the Copper River
Delta of Alaska were forever changed when an earthquake
of magnitude 8.3 caused enormous uplift and as a result
altered the habitat and predation balance threatening the future existence this subspecies.
Back to top
(Anas americana) - The American Wigeon's breeding
grounds span the Canadian territories, Alaska, the western
states of America, the Atlantic coast, and the northern
portion of the US It can be found wintering along the
Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts of North America.
This goose-like duck falls into the group of ducks called
dabbling ducks. Dabbling ducks stay mostly in shallower
fresh waters like ponds and marshes. They feed by "dabbling"
the surface of the water or tipping instead of diving.
They can take to flight by lifting directly off the
water. Their diet is mostly plants of which they steal
from other birds when resurfacing. Unlike other dabbling
ducks, they spend time in bays and lakes, and graze
like geese in pastures. Laying begins in May with a
clutch size of six to ten eggs and an incubation lasting
three weeks. Young fledge five to six weeks after hatching.
American Wigeons scare off very easily, so spotting
them must be done with care.
Back to top
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) - Buffleheads
breed in Alaska and Canada as well as several western
states including Wyoming, Montana, and Washington. Seldom
breeds in the mountains of Oregon. They winter along
both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, interior river
valleys, and throughout Oregon. This smaller sized duck
can be found near fresh and salt water bodies, usually
in estuaries or wooded lakes. Buffleheads are cavity
nesters, using old woodpecker holes or vacated cavities.
Clutch size ranges from six to twelve eggs in a down-lined
nest that can be up to twenty feet high off the ground.
Incubation lasts about one month and the young fledge
fifty days after hatching. Buffleheads are diving ducks.
They dive to substantial depths to feed and can travel
a considerable distance underwater. Their diet is primarily
invertebrates, fish, and some plant life. On the Oregon
coast, the Bufflehead is known to eat herring eggs.
Unlike other diving ducks who "run" across
the water before becoming airborne, Buffleheads take
flight by lifting off the water. Their population is
considered sensitive due to continuing habitat loss
and human disturbance. Look for them at Siletz
Bay NWR, and Nestucca
Back to top
Teal (Anas crecca) - One of the smallest
dabbling ducks, the Green-Winged Teal moves fast and
erratically through the air resembling a shorebird rather
than waterfowl. This species breeds in Alaska, parts
of Canada, the western states and east to New York and
Massachusetts. Although not a common breeder in western
Oregon, large numbers winter along the coast in bays
and estuaries, mudflats, and flooded agricultural fields.
Clutch size ranges from six to eighteen eggs. The incubation
period is three weeks and the young will fledge thirty
days after hatching. The Green-Winged Teal feeds mainly
on plant matter, seeds, and less often, invertebrates.
One of the most common ducks next to mallards, these
species are often overlooked, but the males whistle-like
call is unmistakable.
Back to top
Duck (Aix sponsa) - The colorful Wood Duck
breeds in British Columbia south to California, and
in most areas of the US with the exception of the Great
Plains and Rocky Mountains. In Oregon the wood duck
breeds in the valleys, interior rivers and lakes, and
coastal areas. Wintering occurs mostly in western Oregon,
in wet wooded areas. Similar to the Bufflehead, Wood
Ducks are cavity nesters, often using nest boxes, previously
used cavities, or old Pileated Woodpecker holes. Wood
Ducks will occasionally have two broods in a season,
with a clutch size of eight to fifteen eggs and an incubation
period lasting over thirty days. The young fledge at
eight to ten weeks, and soon after jump into the water.
The main food sources are acorns, fruits like berries
and grapes, nuts, and plant material. In the early part
of the twentieth century, Wood Ducks were nearly hunted
to extinction for their meat and plumage which was used
for flying ties for fishing. Now their population continuously
increases with the addition of artificial nesting structures.
They can be found at Bandon
Marsh NWR where a pair recently had a brood
in a nest box.
Back to top
Merganser (Mergus merganser) -
The Common Merganser's breeding grounds extend from
Alaska east to Newfoundland and south across most of
the northern portion of the US Wintering grounds extend
more south into parts of northern Mexico. These diving
ducks can be found in almost every part of Oregon where
open water is present. The Common Merganser is a cavity
nester, often utilizing nest boxes, as well as hollow
trees or rock ledges. Laying begins in April or May
with a clutch size ranging from six to twelve eggs.
Incubation period is four to five weeks, and the young
will fledge two to three months after hatching. Common
Mergansers live on both lakes and rivers, and can also
be found on estuaries and occasionally on salt water.
They eat marine and fresh water fish depending on the
feeding area. Their diet may include juvenile salmonids,
sculpin, trout, shrimp, and insect larvae. Their bills
are specially designed for catching slippery fish, having
a fine serrated edge that can grip the fish. The Common
Merganser can be found at Siletz
Bay NWR, and Bandon
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.