Where the freshwater of the Nisqually River meets the salt water of the Puget Sound, a rich habitat called an estuary is created. Estuaries provide rich nutrients and sediment for plants, animals and invertebrates. Twice each day, the high tide floods the estuary with water and twice each day the low tide drains the area of water. The Refuge has restored 762 acres of the Nisqually estuary by removing dikes and introducing tidal waters after an absence of more than 100 years. In the estuary there are several distinct habitat types that are described below.
Birds: Grebes (various species), Great Blue Heron, Common Merganser, Caspian Tern, Glaucous-winged Gull, Bufflehead
Animals/fish: Clams, Crab, Amphipod, Salmon, Steelhead, Lugworm
Plants: Puget Sound Gumweed, Lyndbys Sedge, Tufted Hairgrass, Pickleweed
Birds: Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, American Wigeon, Greater Yellowlegs
Animals/fish: Amphipod, Threadworm, Midge Larvae, Clam, Snail, Sculpin
Plants: Sea Lettuce, Phytophankton
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The reclusive American Bittern is a master of disguise. When it feels threatened, it stretches its neck and all but disappears among the reeds.