Seasons of Wildlife

Townsend'sWarber LeValley 512

Many passerines, like this Townsend's Warbler, migrate to the Humboldt Bay area during the cold winter months. Other passerines can be found in the area year round.

A variety of waterfowl, such as Northern pintail and American wigeon, can be seen rafting on the ponds. Look also for wintering marbled godwits, willets, and long-billed curlews. Aleutian cackling geese and Pacific brant are returning north by the thousands. These species and many more will be using the wetlands in and around Humboldt Bay all winter and spring as they refuel for their migration to breeding areas to the north.


Adult steelhead and coho salmon are moving up local streams and rivers to spawn. River otters are seen often in refuge sloughs. First endangered Humboldt Bay wallflowers begin blooming at the Dunes Units.
Large western Canada geese and mallards begin nesting locally.  Willows and alders are budding and leafing out.



The peak of migration, greatest diversity and overall numbers of birds moving through the area.  A celebration of birding, the Godwit Days Festival takes place. 


MarbledGodwit LeValley 447

Picture: The Marbled Godwit, shown above, has a very long bill to facilitate probing deep into the mud in search of food.

Canada geese young (goslings) are commonly seen near almost any wetland.
Many passerine birds are nesting….deer are dropping their fawns. Peak wildflowers at the Dunes Units.
First shorebirds are migrating south….young egrets and herons are fledging and learning to hunt. Peak wildflowers at Dunes Units.
Swallows staging for their southerly migration….goldfinches are ubiquitous.
Black-tailed deer are abundant and easily seen and photographed.

Blacktail Thomson 345

Picture: Blacktail deer in the evening sun.

Aleutian cackling geese and many other waterfowl and shorebirds migrating south to wintering areas.
Seasonal wetlands on refuge flood, Pacific brant moving down coast, tundra swans show up late in the month and are here until early March.
Raptors abound….bald eagles, peregrine falcons, northern harriers, white-tailed kites, kestrels can all be seen hunting their prey…which are primarily birds and small mammals.