Godwits 512

Large flocks of migrant Godwits (shown above) pass through the Humboldt area on their migrations from as far south as Mexico to as far north as Alaska.

  • Migratory Birds

    NorthernPintail LeValley 150

    Humboldt Bay is considered and internationally significant area for migratory birds by both the American Bird Conservancy and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.  Large numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, and songbirds depend on the habitats the Bay and Refuge provide during all seasons of the year for foraging, roost sites, and breeding.  The primary reason the Refuge was established in 1971 was due to the areas importance as wintering and stopover habitat for migratory birds.  


    Heavy influxes of birds occur during fall and spring months as birds are migrating south and north, respectively through the Pacific Flyway.  Over 260 different species of birds have been documented either on the Refuge or in the nearby vicinity.  This includes over 34 species of shorebirds exceeding 100,000 birds during migration peaks (Nov and Apr) and 31 species of waterfowl numbering over 75,000 birds.  The dune forest and riparian areas found on the Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes Units support large numbers of breeding and non-breeding songbirds.  These very rare and pristine habitats attract migrants moving up and down the coast.  


    For a list of species and when you may see them in the Humboldt area have a look at our watchable wildlife brochure.


  • Aleutian Cackling Geese

    AleutianInFlight 150

    The population of these small (4-6 pounds) geese has made one of the most astounding recoveries in the history of wildlife management.  The population has soared from <800 individual birds in 1974 to >120,000 today.  Aleutian Cackling geese were formerly known as Aleutian Canada geese until taxonomists renamed and “regrouped” them in 2004.

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  • Pacific Brant

    BrantPair Peters 150

    Each spring, eelgrass beds in Humboldt Bay attract large flocks of brant along the Pacific coast as the bird’s stopover during their migration from southern wintering sites to breeding grounds in the Arctic. Humboldt Bay NWR is the southernmost in a chain of National Wildlife Refuges in the United States that provide habitat for most of the world’s population of Pacific brant.

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