Birds

Lewis's Woodpecker, Ankeny

Birding is a common national pastime, and what better place to do it than at Ankeny NWR? Here on the refuge over 200 species of birds either come to visit or live here year-round. Check out all the different types of birds you might see below!

  • Waterfowl

    Dusky Canada Goose

    Though present year-round, waterfowl flock to the refuge's wetlands and fields by the thousands in the winter months. Some of the most common species include northern pintail, mallard, American widgeon, and tundra swan. In the summertime, some of these species stick around as residents, and other migrants arrive, like cinnamon teal and the occasional blue-winged teal. One species to look for in particular is the dusky Canada goose, a dark subspecies of Canada goose whose scarcity in the 1960's led to the designation of the Willamette Valley Refuge Complex.

    Learn more about Dusky Canada Geese

  • Wading & Other Waterbirds

    Green Heron

    Aside from waterfowl, the refuge wetlands are called home by a multitude of other water-reliant species. This group includes the regal herons, bitterns, and egrets, as well as the lithe grebes and cormorants, the sneaky rails and coots, and unforgettable migrants like the American white pelican. Look for these species at the Eagle Marsh.

  • Raptors

    Bald Eagle

    Particularly popular with visitors are the raptors. Aside from our national bird, the bald eagle, other raptors you can spot at Ankeny NWR include Northern harrier, red-shouldered hawk, osprey, great-horned owl, and rough-legged hawk. 

  • Shorebirds

    Black necked stilt

    Designated as an Important Shorebird Migratory Stopover, Ankeny not only provides refuge for migrating shorebirds, but also for nesting and year-round residents. Shorebirds are a broad group that is generally found along water-edges, but some species have adapted to drier locales, such as the killdeer (which does not prey on deer, but whose call sounds rather like “killdeer killdeer”). Most shorebirds have sensitive nerves at the ends of their bills which help them seek out invertebrates and other critters hiding in the mud. Different bill lengths allow many different species to hunt in one location—each one picking out food from different soil depths. Some familiar species include greater yellowlegs, long-billed dowitcher, western sandpiper, and Wilson’s snipe. 

  • Passerines

    Common Yellowthroat

    Passerines are a group defined by their toes! All passerines have three toes facing forward and one facing backward, a set-up that allows them to easily grip branches. This group includes all your favorite songbirds, including American robin, black-capped chickadee, Swainson’s thrush, tree swallow, and western bluebird.

  • Non-passerines

    Red-breasted sapsucker

    While this group is broadly defined as anything but a passerine, it is often used to describe species that seem as though they should be passerines but are not, as well as upland game-type birds. This group includes the rufous hummingbird, Vaux’s swift, red-breasted sapsucker (and other woodpeckers), common nighthawk, mourning dove, and California quail.