Seasons of Wildlife

  • Spring

    A massive influx of shorebirds begins in late April and continues through mid-May as birds journey north.  This is the spring migration, subject of the Shorebird Festival, typically held at the Refuge during the last weekend in April, depending on tides.  Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop to rest and feed on the vast mudflats in Grays Harbor.  After a brief stay, the birds move north along the coast of British Columbia and reach the Copper River Delta in southeast Alaska.  Then it's on to their breeding grounds where long days and abundant food resources provide an ideal place to nest and raise their young.  While visiting Grays Harbor in the Spring, expect to see large numbers of Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers, and Semipalmated Plover, as well as Black-bellied Plover, Red Knot and Least Sandpiper. Western Sandpipers and Dunlin compose 80 percent of the shorebirds present in the Spring.

    For many years, people have flocked to Grays Harbor in late April and early May to witness a shorebird migration spectacle.  Grays Harbor Audubon Society, Grays Harbor NWR, the city of Hoquiam and a host of local sponsers work together to produce the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival.  This event provides a chance for people from near and far to learn more about shorebirds and this unique area.  For more information, click on the link below.


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  • Summer

    Fall migration begins in July when shorebirds begin to arrive in Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge.   Shorebirds leave their breeding grounds at different times, so Fall migration is less concentrated than Spring migration and lasts through September.  While most shorebirds continue moving south, thousands of shorebirds, primarily Dunlin, will winter along the Washington coast.

  • Fall

    Waterfowl return to the Refuge.  Large flocks of Dunlin attract predators such as Peregrine Falcon.  In the Woodland, as leaves fall and insects disappear, Summer songbirds such as Common Yellowthroat head to warmer climes.

  • Winter

    Weather is rainy and cold - dress warm and bring a waterproof outer layer.  Waterfowl, including Mallards, American Wigeon, and Northern Pintail are most abundant at this time of year and some shorebirds, such as Dunlin, also winter over at the Refuge.  Raptors, including Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks are most abundant at this time of year.