About the Refuge
Eighty miles north of
Humboldt Bay, Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) lies about a half mile
offshore from Crescent City, California. Castle Rock NWR is only 14 acres in
size, but is critical to the survival of several hundred thousand seabirds each
year. It is also a key roost site for up to 20,000 Aleutian cackling geese each
winter and spring.
Welcome to the Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge....
Castle Rock NWR is
closed to the public to prevent disturbance to the seabirds, their habitat, and
marine mammals. The birds of Castle Rock can best be seen in the early morning
hours with a spotting scope from Pebble Beach Drive.
From February to
mid-April, the dawn fly-off of Aleutian cackling geese from Castle Rock is
often spectacular. The geese roost on Castle Rock each night and feed on
mainland pastures by day.
Castle Rock rises 335
feet above sea level with a grassy slope, two large inlets, and cliffs that are
important to nesting seabirds in the summer.
The cliffs provide
nesting habitat for one of the largest breeding populations (100,000) of common
murres on the Pacific coast. Ten other species of seabirds also nest here,
including three species of cormorants, pigeon guillemots, Cassin’s and
rhinoceros auklets, Leach’s and fork-tailed storm-petrels, and tufted puffins.
Because many of these bird species nest in burrows and crevices and are
primarily nocturnal, they avoid predation by western gulls that also nest on
Castle Rock NWR also
serves as an important haul out (resting site) for marine mammals, including
harbor seals, northern elephant seals (both bear pups there), and California
and Steller sea lions.
Castle Rock was purchased
in 1979 from The Nature Conservancy.