Wildlife & Habitat--A Year of Wildlife
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is a place to discover an ever-changing panorama of wildlife. As the seasons change, so do the wildlife viewing opportunites. Located on the Pacific Flyway, the Refuge is an important stopover where migrating waterfowl, songbirds, and shorebirds stop to rest, refuel, and raise their young.
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Spring is the time to enjoy the bright colors and the singing chorus of migratory songbirds. Many species of songbirds, such as common yellowthroats, arrive in the spring and use the refuge as a place to breed and nest.
As seasonal wetlands dry out in the spring, mudflats are left behind. These provide a rich source of invertebrates for migrating shorebirds that are on their journey to their breeding grounds further north.
As migration slows, Refuge wildlife focus on raising their young. Broods of wood ducks and hooded mergansers are commonly seen in the wetlands. Also, in summer, wetland basins dry out, allowing wetland plants such as water plantain and smartweed to grow and become the perfect food for migrating waterfowl that arrive on the Refuge later in the fall and winter.
As fall rains begin and temperatures cool, Arctic-nesting birds begin to arrive here from their northern breeding grounds. In search of open water, food and shelter, waterfowl find what they need on the Refuge. At the same time, bald eagles become a regular visitor to the Refuge, hunting the increasing numbers of waterfowl found here.
Winter is a spectacular time to visit. Large numbers of waterfowl such as cackling Canada geese, northern pintails, and mallards blanket the Refuge as they eat the rich source of seeds and plants grown in summer. The Refuge boasts an average of 20,000 waterfowl during mid-winter, and in some years, over 50,000 have been observed in a single day.