Humboldt Bay is considered and internationally significant area for migratory birds by both the American Bird Conservancy and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. Large numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, and songbirds depend on the habitats the Bay and Refuge provide during all seasons of the year for foraging, roost sites, and breeding. The primary reason the Refuge was established in 1971 was due to the areas importance as wintering and stopover habitat for migratory birds.
Heavy influxes of birds occur during fall and spring months as birds are migrating south and north, respectively through the Pacific Flyway. Over 260 different species of birds have been documented either on the Refuge or in the nearby vicinity. This includes over 34 species of shorebirds exceeding 100,000 birds during migration peaks (Nov and Apr) and 31 species of waterfowl numbering over 75,000 birds. The dune forest and riparian areas found on the Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes Units support large numbers of breeding and non-breeding songbirds. These very rare and pristine habitats attract migrants moving up and down the coast.
For a list of species and when you may see them in the Humboldt area have a look at our watchable wildlife brochure.